If you’re just starting your journey as a triathlete, one question you might ask yourself is ‘What should I wear for my first triathlon?’ There’s nothing worse than starting your next leg and your suit is already chafing and your goggles are starting to leak, so taking the time to fully prepare beforehand is one step you can take now to make race day run a little bit smoother.
We’ve put together a comprehensive race day kit list so you can check things off and arrive at the start line calm, confident and ready to focus on just one thing – racing your best.
Swim Gear Checklist
- Wetsuit – Even if it’s not required to wear a wetsuit by the event organisers, beginners should still wear one. As well as keeping you warm, a wetsuit will increase your buoyancy in the water, helping you to swim faster. Look for a wetsuit that fits tightly without reducing the range of motion of your shoulders and legs. For a guide to the best wetsuits for women and men, check out The Great Outdoor Swimming Society’s Great Wetsuit Test
- Tri-Suit – You can wear your tri-suit throughout the full triathlon. Tri-suits are designed to dry off quickly after the swim (you can wear one under your wetsuit), provide cushioning for the cycle, and keep you moving freely during the run. As with the wetsuit, you’re looking for a tight fit on your tri-suit. Any bulges or misshapen joints will slow you down on the swim. Try out the Zone3 Women’s Aquaflo Plus Tri Suit – voted best buy by The Independent and the men’s Synergy Tri Suit – voted #1 in the Top 10 Tri suits for 2019.
- Goggles – It’d be pretty impossible to swim in a triathlon without a pair of goggles. It’s recommended to have two pairs for different conditions, typically, a clear pair for darker conditions such as swimming in indoor pools and outdoor swimming in cloudy weather. Then another pair which are tinted for when the sun is in your eyes, which will help with sighting the buoys. We recommend our SilverSlick goggles with extra wide, advanced technology curved lenses which ensure 180-degree vision no matter the circumstances, making you extra safe in the water.
- Swim Cap – Swimming caps are usually provided by the race organisers so they can designate which wave you’ll start in. But bring a spare just in case as its better to have an extra cap than nothing at all, especially when you’re in the water on a cold day!
If you want to practice improving your swim speed in preparation for the race to ensure you get the best possible time, check out our guide to the key elements you need to consider to become a faster swimmer.
Cycling Gear Checklist
- Bike – Most types of bikes are permitted at triathlons so don’t worry about investing in a triathlon specific bike until you’ve decided you’re going to stick with it. If you’ve got a mountain bike already sitting around in the shed then that’ll be perfect, just make sure to take it to a bike shop beforehand to check it’s all good to go.
- Helmet – A helmet is a must-have piece of equipment when it comes to taking part in a triathlon. No helmet? No race! You don’t need to fork out when it comes to headwear, check out your local bike shop as they’ll generally carry brands that have passed standardised safety testing
- Bike Shorts – A basic tri short with padding will make the bike section of the race much more enjoyable. Bike shorts contain padding, or chamois, which give you a little more protection from the bike seat. These are great as they’re made of microfibers that not only move with the skin but move smoothly against it, preventing chafing.
- Sunglasses – A pair of sunglasses can make the difference between loving your first triathlon and vowing never to do one again. Get yourself a pair of sports sunglasses for your first outing. They don’t need to be expensive but they’ll protect your eyes from wind, rain (ironic as they’re sunglasses), and obviously the glare from the sun.
Running Gear Checklist
- Trainers – If your current trainers are comfortable, they are good to go. They’re a similar situation to the bike – until you know it’s something you’re going to stick at, there’s no point in splashing out on expensive ones that you’ll rarely use. However, make sure to wear a supportive pair if you suffer from any issues such as shin splints or know you need more support for your ankles.
- Sports Bra – You’re going to want to wear a good, supportive sports bra under whatever you’re wearing. Make sure to wear one you’re comfortable running in and keeps you feeling secure as you smash this part of the race.
- Sports Cap – A cap will be really handy for if it’s sunny on race day. Not only will it protect your head from the UV rays, but it’ll keep the sun out of your eyes for that little extra shade.
Other Race Day Essentials
- Race belt – these are a great alternative to attach your race number to you rather than needing to use safety pins. It also gives you the option to turn it over onto your front or back depending on which part of the race you’re doing so officials can track you easily.
- Flat tyre bag – flat tyres are inevitable so make sure you’re prepared with a kit including a mini-pump, a tube, tire levers and a multi-tool. Also, make sure you know how to use the items in the bag!
- Towel – bring a quick-dry microfibre towel, not only to dry off after the swim and to dab down any sweat, but also to use as a visual marker to find your bike once out of the water (the brighter the better).
- Sun cream – apply a high-quality, long-lasting, sport-specific variety of sun cream that’s water and sweat-resistant. Aim to apply this prior to racing, and again in transitions 1 & 2.
- Body lubricant – The constant movement of your tri suit during the race often creates a friction rub on the skin. Products like Vaseline or Happy Bottom Bumbutter will reduce the likelihood of the dreaded wetsuit chafing.
- Water bottle – it’s important to stay hydrated, so try finding a bottle that’s easy enough to strap onto your bike and to hold onto during the run.
- Sports watch – a simple sport watch is handy to have for tracking your times and making sure you’re on track. Check out our list of top tracking devices to make sure you pick the best one for you.
There you have it, our checklist to the essential gear to take along with you! If you need more advice when it comes to what and when to eat on the day, take a look at our ‘What To Eat on Triathlon Race Day guide’ to help make sure you’re fuelling up and improving your performance instead of hindering it.