The Gear Every Triathlete Needs to Succeed: Part I

Happy Monday from Reno!

I’m finally gearing up for a triathlon in San Francisco next weekend and the excitement is building. I’m kind of sick of running (marathon, RTO), and look forward to getting back into the swim/bike/run awesomeness that I originally signed up for! This will be my 3rd year in a row racing the Golden Gate triathlon, practically making it a tradition. It’s always fun to be familiar with a race venue because you have better expectations and goals for your time, and you are less likely to be caught off guard by unpleasant surprises.

As with everything in life, you need the right gear to succeed in triathlon competition. You’d be hard pressed to do well at work without a computer, legal pad, boss, or your favorite ball point pen. The same goes with athletic events. Without the proper gear (I’m only referring to the basics) you won’t get very far.

I will have a follow-up post where I share the gear and nutrition strategies that I use as an advanced triathlete. If you’re just starting out, it’s kind of silly to worry about gear that saves you 35 seconds on the swim, 10 seconds per mile on the bike, or 30 seconds over the course of your run.

  1. The swim – Unsurprisingly, this is typically the event that most people struggle with, because it is the most technical of the 3 sports and many people simply aren’t raised in a swimming pool like I was. For the basics, you need a solid pair of goggles (bring a backup just in case). You should also invest in a trisuit (here’s what I use). Although they are a tad expensive, this will save you from changing many times over the race. You can swim in it, bike in it, and run in it, all without having to waste precious time pulling on a shirt, yanking laces, or frustrating yourself as you waste away in the transition area.
  2. The bike – Obviously, you need a bike. I strongly recommend and encourage that you look into a road bike (unless you’re doing a mountain bike race) but for beginners a tri-specific bike is not necessary. You can invest your training time and money better in other areas for your first few seasons. If you are already an avid cyclist, I would recommend going for clip-in pedals. They generate more power and will help you conserve energy over your biking distance. For beginners, any bike helmet will suffice (more coming on this in the next post).
  3. The run – probably the area you need to invest the least in. First, you should get a great pair of running shoes. Go to a running store (Eclipse Running in Reno) not some giant sports warehouse. Second, you should get quick tie laces. I don’t know how many times I’ve watched athletes waste precious time sitting down to tie their shoes! Don’t!! Finally, you should invest in a race belt to hold your number. This helps to avoid those nasty safety pins and will save time in transition.

So there you have it, the very basic gear you need to succeed and have fun at a triathlon.

What other basics did you use for your first triathlon?



  1. My first triathlon was watching you in Sacramento a few years ago. Necessary equipment was:
    1) a comfy pair of shoes that wouldn’t blow out when running from one transition point to the next
    2) a portable, lightweight lounge chair (in shady spot), and
    3) a cool beer

    I enjoy my role as a triathlon enthusiast — from the sidelines.

    Have fun in ‘Frisco. Play hard; eat hearty; have fun.

    1. Hahaha, you definitely did a great job of getting around between transition areas! I feel that the cool beer and shady lounge chair were the critical pieces of equipment needed to enjoy your day!

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