The Gear Every (Advanced) Triathlete Needs to Succeed: Part II

Good Morning From Another Glorious Day in Reno!

Friday is my absolute favorite day of the week, because you get to enjoy the successes from the hard hours you’ve put in at work but also get to anticipate the fun that the weekend will bring.

For me, the weekend consists of Aces baseball, roadtrip to San Francisco, Giants baseball, and an Olympic triathlon across the Golden Gate Bridge. If that doesn’t sound fun to you, well, you’re just sick :-) All great stress relievers, and for the past 2 weeks I’ve been super stressed. It’ll be great to get away for a while…

So, as promised, here’s the follow-up to The Gear Every Triathlete Needs to Succeed.

  1. Swim – Again, the swim requires more technical skill than technical gear. The first thing I highly recommend for anyone looking at doing more than 4-5 races is invest in a wetsuit [$200-300 for entry level]. It provides warmth when the water is cold (I’ve raced in 52 degrees before for a mile, which would not be fun without a wetsuit) and it also provides extra buoyancy and a slight speed boost. Note: I find Xterra wetsuits to work just fine while still being affordable. Take time to practice open water swims with your wetsuit before trying to compete with one. It feels slightly different and will greatly affect your transition times without the proper practice. You should also be practicing “sighting” in open water. This is the process of popping your head out of the water to see where you’re going without losing speed or momentum.
  2. Bike – Without a doubt, the most costly and investment intense area of a triathlon. Bikes can range from $900-$12,000 with everything in between [drool]. And that’s not to mention all of the carbon accessories, rear wheel discs, and countless other parts such as aerobars. I raced for 2 seasons on a standard road bike before upgrading to a used triathlon bike. I can’t really speak to the technical specifications, but the tri bike is designed to save your legs a bit for the run, and also to put you in an aerodynamic position to save you precious seconds. Perhaps the most cost effective way to shave seconds is invest in an aero helmet (teardrop shaped head accessory). I spent about $130 on mine, with the top end models going for around $200. I’ve improved my average mph by nearly 3 mphs since getting my new bike and helmet. A majority of these gains are from training, but the gear certainly helps. The last thing I would recommend is to invest in a pair of Tri Clips. They hold your shoe in place so you can perform a flying mount with greater ease and not worry about running on your bike shoes.

  3. Run – Not much is left to invest for on the run, although I would recommend bringing along your lucky pair of sunglasses (I’ve raced with my Oakleys for 5 years and simply refuse to do anything active without them) and sports sunscreen. Besides in your training, you can also save a bit of time in how you transition. Some athletes prefer to race without socks and some with. You could save about 10 seconds without socks, but the blisters I get have never been worth it. For me, the most valuable time saver on the run is doing brick workouts (transition from bike to run in the same workout) and just getting out there and running! I’m hoping my marathon experience will make me faster on the 10k, especially since it’s 20 miles shorter.
  4. Nutrition – This is by far a very fuzzy area, as it is 100% different for every single athlete, although the principles remain the same. Depending on the length of the race, I will bring 1 or 2 water bottles on my bike with water and an electrolyte drink. If I’m doing an Olympic, I will typically bring 2 gels for the bike and then use the aid stations during the run. Nutrition requires experimentation during training so you know what your body can and can’t handle. Pre-race nutrition the morning of is critical for me, as I run out of gas pretty quick. I won’t ever eat 2.5 hours before running, so I’m typically eating 3 hours before the gun goes off on race morning. Try out different things and see how they work for you! Remember, you aren’t a triathlete until you puke during a race :-)

Be sure to get out there, have fun, and stay stress free. What are your advanced training strategies?


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