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What To Wear For A Triathlon

What To Wear For A Triathlon

Taking on a triathlon is a huge athletic endeavor. In addition to the physical challenge, you also need to tackle the logistics. What you will wear is often at the top of that list. You need to wear something suitable for swimming, biking and running. These are completely different activities, so dressing appropriately can be a challenge for beginners. To help you get started, here’s a guide on what to wear for a triathlon. We include tips on what to wear for training and race day in this post!

Considerations For Race Day

The typical triathlon format is to move from a swimming segment into a biking segment, before a run to finish off the race. It’s a huge challenge, and it will be a great accomplishment when you stride across the finish line at the end of the day.

Before you start shopping for specific gear, you can think about what is going to take place during a triathlon to focus your efforts:

  • You’ll start in the water. Right off the bat, you are going to be heading into the water for a swim. Many triathlons allow wetsuits, which are a big advantage for long swims, because they keep you warm and they help you swim faster with less effort. But wetsuits can be expensive, even to rent. And your first swim in a wetsuit shouldn’t be on race day! Whether or not you wear a wetsuit, the clothes you wear under it will get wet, so be prepared.
  • Are you going to change? Most triathletes typically wear just one outfit from start to finish. Only the longest races give you a place to change between segments. Of course, if you’re doing a triathlon just for the fun of the experience, you may choose to make some wardrobe adjustments for your comfort in the transitions between events. If it’s cold, you might want a dry top or a jacket for the bike segment.
  • Think about your feet. Once the swim is complete, you’ll head out of the water to find your bike. At that point, you will need to put something on your feet, which could either be your running shoes or bike-specific shoes. Bike shoes may help your performance while pedaling, but they are an additional investment (and you’ll have to switch to running shoes to finish the race).

Race Day Clothing Checklist

  • Tri Shorts.Tri shorts come in gender-specific designs and are really your best bet for race day. . Tri shorts have a thin pad so you can ride in them and run in them. Note that it's next to impossible to run in cycling shorts, and very uncomfortable to bike in running shorts.
  • Tri Top.Tri tops and suits have pockets for lots of nutrition. And they’re snug to your body, so the nutrition you carry doesn’t bounce around. You need more nutrition in the run segment of a tri than on your training runs, because you're already depleted from the swim and bike. If you’re not ready to invest in a tri top, a running shirt will be your next best option.
  • Triathlon Suit.Tri suits are sometimes more comfortable than having a separate top and shorts, and are often worn by more advanced racers. But getting the right fit can be tricky, and they can make bathroom stops complicated.
  • Swimsuit.If you’re not ready to invest in tri-specific gear, you will need a swimsuit for the swim event. One-piece suits are recommended for women. Speedo style briefs are a popular option for men. Men should also keep in mind that some triathlons don’t allow bare chests, so a swim shirt may also be required.
  • Goggles. You’ll need to bring your own goggles. Be sure to use a pair that you’ve worn before. Showing up race day with no goggles could lead to some issues.
  • Swim Cap. Most likely, your swim cap will be provided by the race itself, and it will have your race number on it. Just check the race details, or bring a backup just in case.
  • Running Shoes.Seek out quality running shoes that fit well. Your feet will thank you.
  • Bike Shoes (Optional) –Bike shoes may help your performance while pedaling, but they are an additional investment (and you’ll have to switch to running shoes to finish the race).
  • Sunglasses (Optional) –Is the sun going to shine brightly? Sunglasses will be essential, as the time you spend out on the road could be very uncomfortable without protection for your eyes.

Clothing Considerations For Training

When training for a triathlon, athletes typically break up their training by event. This means that your clothing can be a little less strict, as you will likely wear the specific clothing for the leg you are training for. For instance, if you’re working on improving your bike time, you will likely wear cycling specific gear—which may not be ideal for race day.

Here’s what to wear for event-specific triathlon training:

  • Run.A close-fitting running shirt made from synthetic materials will be the best way to stay comfortable. A pair of running shorts and shoes will help you get the most out of your training as well.
  • Bike.It is well worth investing in cycling specific gear for training. Bike shorts are almost essential and make it comfortable to spend a lot of time in the saddle. You may need a jacket and tights to train in the spring, even if your race is in the summer. Keep in mind that on race day, cycling-specific gear may not be ideal. Running in your bike shorts is going to be nearly impossible, because the padding is just too thick.
  • Swim.For your swim workouts in a pool, consider wearing a regular swimsuit rather than your tri clothing. Chlorine damages everything, so train in inexpensive swimsuits to spare your expensive tri gear from the chlorine!

Closer to the race, avid triathletes will typically do a combo workout called a brick. This is a bike leg, followed by a run. Now’s the time to don those tri shorts! A brick is a great time to try out all of your race-day gear. Remember: Nothing new on race day!

We recommend not wearing triathlon gear too much during training. Among other things, the fabric rubbing against the saddle will wear it out faster. Wear tri clothes for bricks and races, and wear run, cycle and swim specific gear for those training sessions.

Keep Your Triathlon Gear Fresh

Triathletes will typically run at least 3 times a week, bike at least 3 times a week, and swim 2-4 times per week. Some also take strengthening classes like pilates, or stretching classes like yoga. Each of those requires different clothes, which generates a lot of laundry!

To keep your triathlon gear and other activewear fresh, order a bottle of WIN Sports Detergent today. We have specifically designed our product to care for and remove odor from the synthetic materials in activewear. With WIN, you don't need drawers and drawers of triathlon clothes—you just do the laundry and keep fresh!