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Couch to Sprint Tri: What Triathlon Gear is Needed?

May 04, 2015

Couch to Sprint Tri: What Triathlon Gear is Needed?


Some would say that the number one rule for a new triathlete is, “Don’t look faster than you are.

Last week, James had a number of questions about what gear is needed. The triathlon gear options are endless and it can be tough to weed through it all to figure out what you really do need and what can wait until you have fallen, head over heels, in love with triathlon.

So, you can be this person if you want, but you don’t have to be:


I do recommend a tri-suit if it is reasonable for you. Go find a good deal though. Don’t wear your bike shorts in the water! They have cushioning that could weigh you down for the rest of the event. You can wear a swimsuit if a tri-suit isn’t reasonable. It should be an athletic suit that is tight fitting with no frills (for safety purposes).

Women often wear a sports bra and spandex shorts in the water. Then you can toss a bike shirt on after the swim.


A wetsuit is usually worth it if you are swimming in a colder climate. These can be rented to reduce cost. You can go without if the water is warm enough. The wetsuit will help you swim faster, but will take time to remove in transition. If you do choose to wear a wetsuit, make sure it is a triathlon wetsuit. There is a difference and it is a USAT rule.

You must wear a swim cap, but these should be provided for you at the event. Just be prepared for it. Water safety is extremely important in triathlon.

Goggles are a worthy investment. Spend the few extra dollars to get a pair of swimming goggles that will fit properly and stay there. Anything that can give you comfort and reduce anxiety in the swim is beneficial.


If you find that you are dizzy when you get out of the water after a swim, you may want to think about ear plugs. They are a small investment that can help you avoid any embarrassing crawling to your first transition.


You do need a bicycle. You do not need a special bicycle. You may want to consider putting road tires on your bike if you do not have a road or triathlon bike available. The better the bike, the smoother your ride. But, a sprint triathlon will be relatively short and might not be worth the potential thousands of dollars you could spend.

I do not suggest buying clip-in pedals and shoes until you are sure you will be cycling regularly. They can be pricey and there is a learning curve to getting in and out of them. It is better to spend your time logging miles rather than learning to start riding all over again. But, as soon as you have converted to a cyclist, clip-ins are a good idea.

Aerobars are not necessary. But if you feel like you want them, get them. It will give you an opportunity to rest those muscles from swimming that help you with good form on the run.

If your bike has suspension, you should lock it up for the triathlon and road training. You will lose energy through the suspension when it isn’t needed.

You do need a water bottle on your bike. Stay hydrated during your event!

Don’t forget your helmet. It is required. There is no triathlon with out a bike helmet.



Technically, you do not need anything new for your run. But, you want to be comfortable. You may want to have a fuel-belt to carry water, gels, chews, etc. on the run. By this time you may start running out of energy and it is always good to keep something on you, in case the course doesn’t have something the morning you need it. You won’t need anything excessive though. That extra weight can also slow you down, so get a good idea of your nutrition needs.

You should have a good pair of running shoes. It is worth the price to go to your local running store and get the right shoes for you.


Bring a towel to put your stuff on for your transitions.

Have an extra paid of socks. When you don’t have all of the fancy gear, the run and bike can get a bit soggy.

Have a plastic bag for your gear in case it is raining.

The main point: A triathlon shouldn’t cost a fortune.

You can beg, borrow, and…well, we don’t recommend stealing, but you know what I mean.

If you have endless money, by all means, have at it. But you don’t triathlon can be for anyone.

See the training plan here.

Read about James’ (StrideBox Founder) first week of training here.

Subscribe to StrideBox here.