Must Have Gear for Your First Triathlon

448 279 Patrick McCrann

TriSports Staff

I recently did a podcast on the gear required to go from JV to Varsity level as a triathlete. As many of you pointed out, beginner triathletes could also use some help! Never fear…I broke out the Endurance Nation Time Machine to take myself back to 1999…the year of my first triathlon (I’ll spare you the pictures!) to put myself in the right mindset to help you out.

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First Principles

The most important thing to remember is that you simply want to do a triathlon. It’s very easy to get carried away with equipment that you don’t need. So it’s important to boil everything down to the bare minimum. You’ll need a swimsuit with goggles. You’ll need a bicycle with a helmet, a water bottle cages and a water bottle. You’ll need running shoes.

Please Note: I didn’t mention clothing for the bike and the run, because I’m assuming you won’t forget that!

That’s it! That is all you need to complete your first triathlon. Anything beyond that is simply a bonus. If you find yourself getting stressed out, or concerned…odds are you getting a little too carried away.

The best news is that you kind of need disk year if your training is a translate. So if you can get through a week of swim, bike, and run workouts then you should be all set.

For those of you looking for a bit more here are some specifics on items that you will need for your first triathlon, enjoy!

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The Swim

Without a doubt you will want a comfortable swimsuit. While the ladies should rock a one-piece swimsuit, men may prefer a pair of jammers or spandex shorts to the traditional bathing suit. Bonus if this has a pad inside so you can cycle on it.

You’ll also want a good pair of goggles. Sometimes it takes a while to find the right pair, in general you want to get a pair that are comfortable for you and don’t leak in your training swims. That’s all you need.

Don’t worry about glare or tinting or anything else. Remember that in your first triathlon, not being able to see where you’re going is almost a rite of passage!

And odds are, even with the best goggles on the planet you’re still going to have a tough time swimming in a straight line.


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The Bike

For the bike you’ll need a helmet and a bicycle that has gears you can shift. It doesn’t matter if it’s three speed, seven speed, or 10 speed. You’ll just want a bike where you can adjust some of the gears and feel comfortable coming to a complete stop.

You don’t need toe cages or special shoes to complete the bike. For simplicity sake, it might be easier to have flat pedals that you can ride with your sneakers on. This way you can transition more quickly from bike to run!

I mentioned earlier that you will also want a bike bottle. It’s good to have some sports drink, such as Gatorade, on your bike while your riding (side note, you’ll want to practice drinking from a bottle before race day!). You will want to practice drinking while you ride. Having some calories here will be helpful, especially before you start the run.

The Run

Once you get back to transition for the run, if you don’t already have sneakers on quickly pull them over your socks. Make sure they’re snug and get to work. You may also want a baseball cap or visor if you have one to protect your eyes from the sun and/or rain.
If you have a race number, you can easily pin it to your shirt that you wear on the bike and then also on the run.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!! You now have all the baseline gear you need to complete your first triathlon.

Additional Bonus Gear

See, I can’t help it! Even I, your faithful guide, want to give you more stuff. Here are some other things to consider while you’re out there:

Sunscreen – Especially for the hot day can’t hurt to have that in your transition bag.

Some Food – Either a bar or gel. It’s nice to eat something in transition, especially when you go from the bike to the run when you’ll be hungry.

Sunglasses – Everyone has a known sensitivity to the sun. If you are particularly sensitive, consider having your sunglasses available for the bike in or run.

Wetsuit – Certainly not required to swim, but perhaps worthwhile if the temperatures are cold. Anything below 70°F feels pretty darn chilly. Especially for those of you who are skinny and have very low body fat, you will need something additional to keep you warm. The swim cap does help, but it’s not meant to be a warming device.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, your top goal should be to finish and have fun. The minute you cross the finish line, you’ll be full of things you can improve upon. Save your hard earned cash for afterwards, when you’ll know exactly what you want.

Good luck out there!

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