Everything You Need to Gear Up for a Triathlon

Buying Guide

When it comes to competing in a triathlon, preparation fuels performance. Make sure you've got these items to hit every event strong.

Last updated: July 26, 2022
4 min read
Triathlon Checklist: The Top 10 Pieces of Gear to Crush Your Next Race

Whether you're doing a sprint triathlon or a full Ironman, being ready for each part of a multisport race can be tricky. For veterans and newcomers alike, the transition between swimming, bike and run events can be a challenge. That means putting effort into prep for those transitions can save precious minutes—not to mention ensuring you have what you need to race.

In addition to making sure your bicycle is ready, here's a checklist to consider:

Triathlon Checklist: 10 Things You Need Before Race Day

  1. 1.Clothing

    This will depend on weather, but you may want to consider investing in a body suit to wear for all three events, according to USATF-certified coach Timothy Miller, M.D., sports medicine physician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. That way, you don't have to change clothes, and that's particularly valuable when transitioning into and out of the swimming portion. If you don't wear a bodysuit, the clothing you'll need includes:

    · Hat (if preferred)

    · Running top

    · Running shorts or trousers

    · Socks

    · Running shoes

    · Swimsuit

    · Cycling jersey

    · Cycling shorts

    · Clip-in shoes if preferred

    · Pre- and post-race clothes like a sweatshirt and tracksuit bottoms

    With shoes, Miller says some people save time by clipping their shoes into the pedals before the race, which allows you to slip your feet into them during the transition. Or you could wear your running shoes on your bike—another time saver.

  2. 2.Cycling helmet

    Surprisingly, this item is often forgotten in the shuffle of getting ready, says USATF-certified coach Amie Dworecki of Running with Life. That's a huge problem since they're required for racing—which means if you don't have a local shop nearby, you could be disqualified before you even start.

  3. 3.Tyre-changing supplies

    Simply having a kit handy is important, but so is knowing how to use it with speed, says Dworecki. She suggests practising a tyre patch or change a few times before race day.

  4. 4.Waterproof bag with your personal info

    This includes race information, ID and emergency contacts.

  5. 5.Sunglasses

    Even if you don't wear these while running, you'll want them while cycling, Dworecki says. "Worn on the bike to keep out glare and debris, these can be kept inside your helmet, so you remember to access them at the right time", she suggests.

    RELATED: How to Choose Clothing to Protect Your Skin From the Sun

  6. 6.Goggles and swimming cap

    These are optional, but the latter makes you more aerodynamic in the water, and the former is helpful when there are numerous swimmers.

    "It can feel like you're swimming in a washing machine, depending on the race," says Miller. "You might be fine without goggles when you're swimming alone, but if there are people splashing all around you, especially if it's sunny outside, you'll want goggles."

  7. 7.Towel

    You can air dry after the swim if the weather is warm enough, but if it's cooler, you may want to stash a towel at your next stage so you don't start that event feeling chilled.

  8. 8.Anti-chafe cream or spray

    This can help you avoid any friction hotspots. You may not use this during training so it's possible you think you won't need it during the race, says Dworecki—but it can be a boon for helping you avoid discomfort.

  9. 9.Hydration and mid-race fuel

    Even on an Ironman that has numerous water stations, many experienced racers tend to carry a hydration pack and some type of carbohydrate option like energy gels. For context, shorter triathlons tend to have aid stations with at least water and electrolytes. Longer races, like the Ironman, will offer snacks and energy gels throughout various points in the course. Don't forget a post-race snack as well, which you can usually stash with your personal belongings at bag check.

    RELATED: This Is Exactly How Much Water You Should Drink Every Day, According to Experts

  10. 10.Transition bag

    This is what you'll actually be putting into bag check, so load it with your gear, including what you need after the race. That can include an additional pair of socks, sun cream, instant ice pack, dry shoes or sandals, and lip balm. It's also helpful to add some duplicate items that you use for the race, as backups just in case. That might be a swimming cap and goggles, another pair of sunglasses, even a second swimsuit.

    Most of all? Practise with what you prep, suggests Miller. Race day will always bring surprises, he says, such as more swimmers around you than anticipated or a minor bike issue that costs you a few minutes to fix. The more you can throw yourself into practice scenarios—especially the transitions between events—the better prepped you'll be once you hit the start line.

    Story written by Elizabeth Millard

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