Q: What do I wear in a triathlon?
A: Triathletes typically wear an outfit thatthey can keep on for the entire race – swim, bike and run. Many rely ontriathlon shorts for the bottom, which is intended for all 3 sports. Females oftenwear a singlet on top for the entirety of the race, while men can wear asinglet or just put a t-shirt or workout shirt on when the bike legbegins. Obviously, you will want shoes for cycling and running, and it ismandatory that you wear a bike helmet while cycling. Some triathleteswill wear a tri suit, but that is not necessary for many newer triathletes. You can use this triathlon checklist to be sure you are considering the right gear.
Q: How long does it take to be ready for atriathlon?
A: It depends on your base level of fitness,and if you are experienced at swimming and cycling (most people know how torun). Assuming that you don’t need to learn to swim, most people who havesome base level of fitness can be ready for a race in 3 months. Forpeople who routinely bike and/or run as part of their normal workouts, you canbe ready for a shorter race in 2 months of training.
Q: Do I need a wetsuit?
A: Many triathletes wear wetsuits during arace, which not only helps with warmth in the open water, but also adds justenough buoyancy to be useful. Longer triathlons and races in coldervenues (or earlier in the season when lakes are cold) tend to have more wetsuit-wearers. For a short race in a warm venue, the wetsuit becomes very optional. Mostraces we see have a majority - but certainly not all - racers wearing awetsuit. You want to be sure it is a triathlon wetsuit. Wetsuitsmade for surfing or wakeboarding don’t provide for a good swim motion. Wetsuits are generally not recommended as the water temp rises above 78degrees.
Q: Do you recommend a full or no sleevewetsuit?
A: It is all personal preference. Eitherstyle will help with your buoyancy in the water. Some prefer a full suitbecause it is warmer and slightly more buoyant, but a sleeveless wetsuit canprovide more range-of-motion for the shoulder. Sleeveless wetsuits areusually less expensive.
Q: Is there a difference between a road bikeand a triathlon bike?
A: Definitely. The bikes may looksimilar, but a tri bike has geometry that can preserve some of your leg powerfor a run, and is really fast on a flat straightaway. They always haveaerobars for aerodynamics. Road bikes have a slightly more relaxedgeometry, but tend to be snappier on hills and in curves. Road bikesusually do not come with aerobars, but you can add them after the fact. Both types of bikes are common in a triathlon.
Q: Should I use a computer or triathlon watch?
A: Both can be helpful, and while trainingwith a bike computer can be really useful, we actually prefer using a watch on raceday. Bike computers are great for training and recording your distances andspeeds, or for off-road races where you need to follow a programmedroute. Triathlons, however, typically have a well-marked route. Insteadof fiddling with a bike computer, we suggest wearing a good triathlon watchthat will easily track your swim, bike, and run stats. It is well worththe investment.
Q: How much do I need to spend ontriathlon?
A: Not as much as you might think. Whilesome people spend lots of money on their bike and wetsuit, and electronics fortraining, you don’t have to. As long as you have a bike that fits youwell, the major expenses are getting some basic triathlon attire and perhaps anentry-level wetsuit if you expect it will help you. And of course, youwill need to budget for race entry fees.
Q: How long is a triathlon?
A: There are several distances of triathlons,with my newer racers doing either the Sprint or Olympic.
Sprint:½ mile swim, 15 mile bike (avg), 3.1 mile run
Olympicor Full: 1 mile swim, 25 mile bike, 6.2 mile run
HalfIronman: 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run
Ironman: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run
Q: Where do I find races?
A: Besides general online searches, look attrifind.com which is generally up-to-date on races, and searchable by locationand date. If there is a large race production company in your region,their website is often a great place to check as well. Finally, askaround at local tri or bike shops for which races are recommended amongenthusiasts.