What To Wear For A Triathlon Sprint Tri, Essential Gear For Triathlons



If you are just starting triathlon, and are not sure you will be a long term triathlete, then a road bike is probably your best choice as it is more practical for hills, and commuting and non-triathlon related cycling. A few added accessories can be added to your road bike to improve your aerodynamics and speed, such as clip on aerobars and disc wheels.

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If you are going to be participating in longer triathlons, and want more speed, then a tri bike would probably be a great fit for you. The triathlon or TT bike has different geometry designed to put you in an aero position for improved aerodynamics and efficiency. In addition, the geometry change works your leg muscles differently If you are a serious triathlete, you will probably want both road and a tri bike in your arsenal. You will be spending a lot of time on the bike training and will probably appreciate having both options for different conditions and rides. After all, at this point, triathlon is more than just a sport, it is a passion and a lifestyle. We get it.

Shop Triathlon LAB”s tri-bike selection

Cycling Shoes


Cycling shoes are designed to be efficient in power transfer from leg to bike. This is accomplished witha stiff sole design and using clips on the bottom of the shoes that attach directly to the bike pedals. Beginners will sometimes use toe straps on pedals which are used with regular running shoes. However, toe straps are not as efficient as clip on cycling shoes and energy will be wasted. There are cycling specific shoes and cycling tri shoes. The main difference is that cycling shoes designed for triathlons are easier to take off because of the wider single or double strap system. In addition, they typically are seamless inside to make it possible to wear without sock. Tri specific cycling shoes will also usually have a loop in the back of the shoe to aid in pulling off the shoe during tranisition to the run..

Shop Triathlon LAB”s selection of bike shoes.



Helmets are absolutely necessary to participate in traithlons. They are required during the triathlon, and should always be worn during cycling to protect your head in case of an accident. There are many types of helmets to choose from. Helmets with more vents will be cooler and more comfortable in warm weather conditions. For longer triathlons where you will be spending a long time on the bike in aero position, you may want to consider an aero helmet. These helmets are designed to reduce drag and increase cycling speed. For short triathlons and regular cycling, a road helmet is probably the best choice.


Shop Triathlon LAB”s selection of bike helmets.


Don”t forget your sunglasses in your transition area. Sunglasses are important to use as they offer your eyes protection from the wind, debris, UV rays and glare. Your best choices are sport sunglasses with light frames and the correct shape that will be compatible with your bike helmet. Choose your lens type based on your need. Some sunglasses come with multiple lenses for different light conditions. Some come with photochromatic lenses which change tint based on light conditions, which are very convenient as there is no need to change out lenses with changing light conditions.

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Shop Triathlon LAB”s selection of sunglasses.

Tools and Tire Repair


It is important to have spare tubes on hand and the tools required to change or repair a tube in case you get a flat on the course. Some triathlons have race support on the course and can help change out flat tires, but it is better to be prepared in case help is unavailale. Make sure you know how to change a tube. It would be very frustrating not to complete a triathlon due to a flat tire. Here is an instructional video on “How to change a tire and tube”. Triathlon LAB has short free workshops on “How to replace a tube”. Check our facebook page for dates and times. Here is a list of recommended items.

Spare tubes (2)Tire levers (Set of 2)Co2 cartridge & adapter or hand pumpBike Multi ToolSaddle bag (To store the items)

Cycling Gloves

Not required, but are designed to offer comfort and sometimes warmth. Cycling gloves are designed to reduce pressure on the Median and Ulner nerves. If you are spending extened time on the bike, then cycling gloves are highly recommended. Cycling gloves come in full fingered or half fingered gloves. The full fingered gloves are ideal for cold weather conditions, where as the half fingered gloves are the best choice for warmer weather.

Race Number Belt

Race number belts add convenience during the race transitions. The number is attached to the racebelt in advance, simply requiring you to snap the belt on prior to the bike and run legs. Otherwise you will need to use safetypins to attach the number to your clothing. Most triathletes don”t want to put safetypins through their technical triathlon clothing and cause damage to the clothing. So for added convenience and clothing care, race nnumber belts are a recommended inexpensive item.

Running Gear

Running Shoes

Choosing the right running shoe is not simple. There are many different philosphies as to the best running form, which coincide with different types of run shoes. There are three main types of foot strikes: Heel strike, midsole strike and forefoot strike. The shoe drop typically dictates which type of foot strike. Zero drop or low drop shoes will promote a midsole or forefoot strike, and shoes with a larger heel drop will promote a heel strike. Some philosphies tout zero drop shoes to create a more natural almost barefoot run style. Others prefer more cushioning in the heel as they prefer a heel strike technique. In addition, there are stability shoes designed for pronators. Your shoe choice will depend on your running philosophy and what works best for you. There are running shoes designed for triathlons. Typical features you will find are seamless interiors to provide comfort while running without socks. Bungee laces or cord locks are a good lace option as you do not have to worry about laces becoming untied during your run and they are quick to put on and tighten.

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Shop Triathlon LAB”s selection of men”s running shoes and women”s running shoes.

Running Pack (Hydration Belt)

Most triathlons will have several aid stations along the course to provide hydration and sometimes food (longer courses). However, it may be a good idea to carry hydration and energy foods with you so you can use your favorite type and have it when ever needed. See below for nutritional tips.

Shop Triathlon LAB”s selection of running packs.


Run hats or visors provide protection for your eyes from sun and rain. Some hats and visors have built in sweat bands to help keep sweat out of your eyes. Most run hats are made out of breathable cool fabric.

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Heart Rate Monitors, Fitness Trackers, and GPS Watches


Heart rate monitors and fitness trackers are useful devices. Heart rate monitors are important tools to measure how hard you are working your heart. It will let you know if you should speed up or slow down. In addition, these devices will track distances and pace. A bare bones Fitness tracker will give you time and pace measurements. A heart rate monitor usually requires you to wear a strap around your chest to measure your heart rate, but there are some types that only require a wrist bracelet to measure your pulse. GPS enable watches will accurately track true distances travelled and even elevation gains.

See the Triathlon LAB Expert Advice article on How to Choose a Fitness Monitor to learn more, or shop Triathlon LAB”s selection of fitness monitors.

Pre Race Prep and Gear

Transition /Tri Bag

Because of the three discliplines of a triathlon, there is a lot of gear needed to have with you on race day or during training. Triathlon specific bags are designed to carry your required gear and to separate wet from dry gear. Most tri bags will have a wetsuit or wet department that is separated from the dry area. Some are simple duffle bag style, where others for the very organized individual will have multiple compartments for shoes, helmets, sunglasses westuits, etc.


Towel and Water Bottle

You should pack a towel for the transition area to stand on while you are putting your shoes on. In addition, have a water bottle on hand to rinse of your feet after the swim prior to putting on your cycling shoes.

Anti Chafing / Lube

Anti chafe products are a triathletes best friend. Products like Bodyglide and Trislide are useful in preventing rashes from wetsuits, or other types of skin rashes caused by friction during swimming, biking or running. To prevent rashes from wetuits, apply the anti chafing around the neck region, and if you are wearing a sleeveless wetsuit, around the arm holes of the wetsuit. The anti chafe can also be used to facilitate wetsuit removal by applying on the wrists and ankles under your wetsuit,

You can also apply lubricate any part of your body that rubs against other body parts or clothing that causes irritation. Blistershield applied in shoes will help prevent blisters during the run. Chamois cream applied inside cycling shorts will prevent chafing during the bike ride.

Shop Triathlon LAB”s selection of skin care products.

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Protecting your skin from sun damage is important. Sunscreen that is designed to stay on during excercise is important, or it will just sweat off. And while you want to protect your skin from harmful UV rays, which cause cancer and premature aging, you should also care if the sunscreen itself is damaging to your body due to harmful chemicals. Consider a sunscreen that is certified to be free of biological harmful ingredients. Be sure to apply according to the directions on the bottle prior to the swim, then re-apply after the swim and before the run. Even though a sunscreen may be labeled as waterproof, it may still need re-application due to sweating or rubbing.

Shop Triathlon LAB”s selection of sunscreen.


Leading up to the triathlon, make sure you stay hydrated. Hydration is best not left till right before the race, but as a steady process. Muscles are more prone to injury and cramping when you are dehydrated. When you are dehydrated, you will fatigue faster. For the night before the triathlon, don”t eat processed or foods high in fat or fiber as they take longer to digest. Stick with foods you are familiar with and don”t try anything new. You don”t want any digestive surprises during your race.

Shop Triathlon LAB”s selection of energy food.

Arm and Knee warmers / Arm Coolers

For cool weather riding and conditions, arm warmers will provide you with warmth and protection from the wind and sun. The nice feature is that they are easy to remove if you start to get too warm. Knee warmers are another option to procide warmth on cool rides. They too can easily be removed if you start to get too warm. For warm weather condtions, consider arm coolers. The material for arm cooers is designed to protect you from the sun and to keep you cooler.

Tip: Keep a vest in your transition area. If it is windy and cold, you will appreciate the warmth especially while still wet from the swim. There are some very light weight vests that can be caried in small pockets if you need to remove during the ride.

Shop Triathlon LAB”s selection of warmers.

Compression Clothing

Triathlon compression clothing is designed to improve blood flow throughout your body and to provide muscle support. True compression clothing should have a graduated compression that will help push blood from the extremeties to your core and back to the heart. This is more pronounced when you are not moving and why compression clothing is especially good for recovery and why it is good for blood circulation. During activity, the compression clothing will provide muscle support and help push out lactic acid from your muscles to reduce fatigue. Medical compression clothing is not designed for triathlons and is not recommended for use during activity.

Triathlon LAB carries a line of 2XU technical compression apparel including ankle sleeves, socks, compression tri tops and shorts, and even compression arm sleeves.

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Race Day Tips

See Triathlon LAB”s Race day checklist to make sure you don”t forget anything crucial for the race.

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