So you’re doing your first triathlon…Congrats! Every triathlete remembers their first triathlon, the nerves, the excitement and the race of course! Walking up on race day can be a bit intimidating, there are a lot of spandex, fancy bikes, and funny shaped helmets is all this necessary?? But we all want to fit in and look the part when we walk up to check-in on race day and having the right gear helps boost confidence to get to the starting line of your first triathlon. Therefore, we compiled a beginners guide on what to wear for your first triathlon.
What To Wear For Your First Triathlon
Triathletes wear what’s called a “tri kit” throughout the whole triathlon. It’s worn underneath your wetsuit or swam in without a wetsuit on, and then on the bike and run as well. The reason we wear one outfit the entire event is to save the time it would take to change after each event, not to mention how difficult it is to peel off wet/sweaty clothes and then get dry clothes on a wet body.
The top is called a jersey and can be a tank top or quarter length sleeves. The material is spandex and nylon for both tops and bottoms of a tri kit this is to prevent chafing. When clothes are not tightly fitted, they rub on your skin and this is what can cause chafing.
The bottoms are called triathlon shorts. They have some padding for comfort on the bike. But it’s not as much padding as bike shorts, so that you’re able to jump off the bike and run in them as well. To be honest, now that I own triathlon shorts I run in them even if I’m not biking beforehand. They don’t ever ride up or need adjusting while running like regular running shorts often do.
Most Common Question –
Do I have to wear a triathlon kit for my first triathlon?? No, you do not, but there are definite advantages listed above as to why you should consider it. Most transition areas are out in the open, so minimal changing between events can take place. I have seen people wear an actual swimsuit and then throw bike shorts on for the bike and run shorts and a top on for the run.
The Triathlete Hub’s Top Rated Kits –
Pearl iZUMi Men’s Tri Top –
Pearl iZUMi produces apparel focused primarily for cycling and triathlons. They are headquartered in Colorado today and currently owned by Shimano since 2008, which has allowed them to invest heavily in research and development. As of today, they make essential triathlon clothing, shoes and even arm warmers and socks. They have developed one of the most comfortable tri kits that triathletes can get their hands on.
Zoot Sports Women’s Tri Racerback –
Zoot was born in 1983 in the heart of the triathlon world, or better known as Kona. For the last 30 years, Christal Nylin has studied what triathletes need most when competing. They have perfected some of the most advanced triathlon gear, from shoes to race kits to race day bags. We selected Zoot because their kits are not only comfortable but they are a leader in finding the highest quality materials for keep triathletes cool on race day.
What To Wear For Your First Triathlon – Swim
You will absolutely need a pair of goggles for any distance triathlon. Make sure you’ve trained with the pair you’re going to use on race day. Different goggles fit people’s faces very differently so you may have to try a few pairs to find the ones best fitted to your face shape to prevent any leaking. After struggling to find a pair for myself that doesn’t leak, I’ve found the TYR 2.0 special ops to be the best and most comfortable. Pro tip- bring an extra pair of goggles just in case your strap breaks on race day. Some people even wear an extra pair stuffed in the wetsuits in case their goggles were to get knocked off during the swim.
You actually probably don’t need a swim cap for race day. Most races require you to wear the swim caps they provide because it will have your race number to identify you. Plus they are often bright colors so (lifeguards) can easily see racers as they are swimming. The color of the cap will also often identify your age group and/or gender.
Whether or not you need a wetsuit for your first triathlon will depend on the distance and particular race you are doing. My first triathlon was a sprint tri in May in Northern Wisconsin. The air temp that morning was 49 and the water temp was 55, so even though I was swimming 400 m, I was more than happy I had invested in a wetsuit. Thankfully Xterra has great entry level wetsuits that won’t break the bank. If you are looking for a wetsuit check out our article on entry level wetsuits here.
Doing a sprint or Olympic distance for your first triathlon there will plenty of people with and without wetsuits. If you’re doing a longer distance triathlon for your first you definitely want to invest in a good wetsuit. Also be sure to check your particular race regulations which will be listed on their website. Many have a requirement if the water temp is below a certain level you are required to wear a wetsuit and if it is above a certain temp you are not allowed to wear one.
What To Wear For Your First Triathlon – Bike
You will be required to wear a helmet on race day. Obviously, races and race directors will ensure that safety is key and wearing a helmet is key. However, there are a few things to consider on a helmet purchase. There are different kinds of helmets when you look to purchase, aero, road and off-road. Typically you want to stick to road and aero style helmets. You can easily spend upwards of $300 on a helmet. However if it’ts your first this Giro helmet here is a great starter that is safe, aerodynamic, and going to last for many years.
You will probably want to wear sunglasses on the bike, there’s nothing worse than biking into the sun and not being able to see where you’re going. They also help block wind from drying out your eyes and any particles from getting in your eyes. Pro tip- Put your sunglasses inside your helmet, that way when you get to T1 you won’t be able to forget them because you will put your helmet on.
What To Wear For Your First Triathlon – Run
Obviously, you’ll have to wear running shoes. If you did not wear clip-ins on the bike, maybe these are the same shoes, but most people will be changing into their running shoes in T2. Pro tip- Get no tie shoelaces for your running shoes, this makes getting your shoes on quick and easy and you’re out of T2 faster. I love Lock Laces and now put them on all my running shoes and work shoes for that matter. Who has time to tie the shoelaces?? Not me!
This is totally a preference and you wear whatever you’re comfortable with whether it be a hat, visor, headband or nothing at all. Advantages to wearing one are sun protection which in turn keeps you cooler, holding back your hair, absorbing some of the sweat (let’s be real, it’s not going to get it all). For hats I like this hat here and these visors here, both of them are Headsweats, they keep you cool, are lightweight, comfortable and they have every color imaginable.
A race belt holds your race bib, which you are required to wear on the run. Some people will use safety pins and just pin their race number onto their clothes. That is totally fine and you can do it for your first race, the disadvantages are you have the safety pins possibly bothering you on the run. Also fumbling with getting it pinned on during transition can be time-consuming. A race belt is an inexpensive way to make T2 smoother and you run more comfortable.