So I hear you are doing your first triathlon? Here is some advice on beginner triathlon NEEDS versus WANTS!
Swim gear: pretty simple here, you need goggles. Ask around and try different models before making a purchase. There are several high quality goggles available for less than $30! All triathlon venues will supply you with a brightly colored swim cap prior to the event. You’ll need to wear the cap which helps to identify which event you are participating in. If your ears are prone to swallowing water, inexpensive silicone ear plugs can save you a lot of discomfort. Of course you will want a wetsuit as it will definitely make things a bit easier. Of course registered M3RC members get 50% off Xterrawetsuits (saves you about $100 on basic models).
Bike Gear: YOU MUST have a quality bike helmet which will absolutely need to be on before you can leave the transition area. Helmets can be costly but they don’t need to be as you can find a safe, fashionable helmet for around $60. Don’t skimp here as it’s pretty important that your brain keeps working correctly! Next up, you need a bike (that fits). Any bike will do and many beginners ride mountain bikes for a while before they make the investment into a road or triathlon bike. If you are riding a mountain or hybrid bike and worry about looking “funny”—get over it. I’ve seen triathletes racing with upright child seats on the back of 3 speeds (with front basket) while passing spandex clad athletes on carbon race bikes! All that matters is that you have two wheels, working brakes, pedals and are having fun. When you commit to the sport (and statistically, over 90% of first time triathletes do another within 8 months of their first), you can worry about custom shoes, pedals, hydration systems, computers, GPS devices, and the like. Again, ask around and try other bikes before you jump head first. Lastly, make sure you have a professional look at you and make sure you are dialed into a good fit on your bike (whatever you ride). There is nothing worse than needless pain and discomfort while doing something that is supposed to be fun! For safety reasons, you should always plan to ride with our cell phone tucked safely in a bike pack (strapped under your bike seat). Always carry an extra tube, patch kit OR be sure to have your cell phone or enough money to make a call somewhere).
Running Gear: Shoes and socks are just about it here. Nowadays a good pair of shoes will cost around $75-150 (Runners Performance Stores provides a 10% discount to M3RC club members or a savings of MORE than half of what your annual M3RC membership costs). A gait analysis performed by a physician, physical therapist, chiropractor, or personal trainer can quickly provide you with important information regarding the most appropriate footwear to be running in. Because many runners (particularly beginners) will often develop running injuries, it is often recommended to have a video running analysis and movement screen prior to jumping headstrong into intense training and activity.
Transition Gear and others: Transition Bag (Duffle bag) will be helpful to keep all of your gear together in the transition area. Sun screen (in your bag), large beach towel for transition, small first aid kit for minor scrapes, stings, chaffing (body glide is great and Butt Butter work great).
Lastly, you need to know the rules! Check out sites including www.beginnertriathlete.com for rules, basic training plans and much more. Spend the time to learn, make the effort to practice with M3RC and enjoy your successes. Okay, of course there are lots of items left out and the list can go on and on. The good news–once you have the basics, you should be fine for a while or at least until you really get hooked. Then you’ll need to read more about the WANTS related to the sport of triathlon. Enjoy!