It’s race day girls!
Working up to a triathlon is no easy feat. Hours of practice for weeks, months, or even years at a time, all lead up to one moment. Nothing can get in your way– or can it?
Dragging, sagging shorts pulling you down while you swim, loose t-shirts getting stuck in your spokes, chafing on the final sprint are all dangerous threats to an otherwise stellar performance.
We’ve put together some tips and hacks for getting the most out of your triathlon garb.
For the Swim Stage
Tri-suits come in two varieties: One-piece and two-piece, also known as tri kit. One-piece tri suits are like wet suits with knee-length shorts and a zipper in front or back. Tri-kits are a similar style but split into top and bottoms.
One-pieces allow for more aerodynamic movement and avoid any dragging of the clothes in the water.
However, just like any one-piece bathing suit, you better hope you used the bathroom before the race because any potty break is going to be a struggle!
Two-piece suits are much easier to relieve yourself in but may cause dragging in the swimming leg.
Tri-suits can be worn for all three legs of the race, significantly reducing transition times. They are specifically designed for, well, triathlons, and are quick-drying and chafe-resistant.
However, they can be pricey which leads to our other options.
We recommend specifically athletic (no frilly collars or halter tops!) one-piece suits for the swim leg to encourage aerodynamics and to prevent dragging and any unwanted accidental exposure.
However, some types of bathing suits can cause chafing during the biking and running legs, so you may want to practice all three legs in the swimsuit in order to ensure comfort.
And of course, if the size of your bladder is an issue, two-piece options are the best! No one wants to peel off and pull back on a wet one-piece!
Just keep the triathlon rules in mind. Some do not allow exposed torsos, so avoid bikini styles no matter how athletic their design, regardless of how dashing you may look in them.
Focus on the race, ladies! You’ll look cutest on the first place pedestal!
Don’t forget to wear goggles in your swim! Forgetting this little accessory could mean disaster on race day!
For the Bike Stage
You may be tempted to wear bicycle shorts during the swim in order to make a faster transition, but beware! Your bicycle shorts will absorb the water as you swim, creating that awful drag that could add meaningful seconds to your race time.
It’s best to save them for the transition period or skip them altogether. They may lose you even more time trying to pull them on while soaking!
We recommend a pair of looser shorts such as running or track shorts to quickly slip on before hopping on the bike. Avoid anything like basketball shorts that are knee-length, which may get caught in the bike spokes!
If you are a seasoned bicyclist and own a pair of cycling shoes, by all means, wear them!
If you feel you’re performing your best in them, they are the way to go. It will add extra transition time switching from your cycling shoes to running shoes after the bike, but whatever brings you the best success is what you should do.
If you don’t own cycling shoes, biking in regular running shoes will work just fine and save you a little time in transitions.
You may want to bring sunglasses in case of a bright day, which could totally throw off your game. And of course, don’t forget a helmet! Safety first, always!
For the Run Portion
The best thing to wear for the run would be, well, running shoes. There are stores that sell shoes specifically for purposes such as cross country, track, running marathons, and of course triathlons.
Once at the store, the workers will test the way you walk and run on a treadmill and give you personalized shoes to fit your needs, whether your foot leans inwards, outwards, or flat!
Personalized shoes can provide optimal comfort when running, correct any errors your feet may make by putting pressure in the wrong place (many of us do and we don’t know it!), and prevent any injuries from stressing your weight in harmful areas.
These personalized, quality shoes have many benefits, but the cost is not one of them. A pair will usually go for between $120-250 and how long they last will depend on how hard you work them. A cross-country runner would normally need to buy a new pair every season or two.
If this is out of your price range, regular tennis shoes from your local store will work just as well. Just make sure you feel comfortable and your shoes support you in a safe way.
Should you bring water on the run? The answer is no unless certain medical needs advise otherwise.
Carrying a water bottle will only slow you down, and often rest stops are required to be stationed throughout the route that provide cups of water, a place to rest, and medical care if needed.
Other Gear to Consider
For all choices, don’t forget to wear a sports bra underneath! You’ll thank me later when you’re nice and supported!
What if I’m on my period?
If it’s your time of the month, we suggest wearing tampons. In the water, pads will get saturated like the biking shorts, slowing your progress down, or they could slip out into the water. They may also impede your performance sitting down on the bike, and could cause chafing while running.
Tampons, especially those used by swimmers, avoid saturation from the water and will stay in place for the duration of the race.
Which choices are best for me?
Experiment! Practice with different items of clothes on, different shoes and equipment, and see which ones help you perform your best.
Once you find your optimal combination, stick with it and train in those clothes for the rest of your practice time so that you are comfortable and confident on race day. As it has been said many times before, it all leads back to fashion.
The Bottom Line
Congratulations! You are about to have one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. You’ve worked hard, studying, preparing, and training for this race, and the best thing you can do now is to make sure you feel your best.
Get a good night’s sleep, eat a healthy breakfast, and choose gear and clothing options that are comfortable and boost your performance so that you can get the most out of this experience as possible!