So the time has come for you to compete in your first triathlon race! You have worked hard at your training in the previous months, and the big day has finally arrived. Whether you are competing in a sprint distance event (75om swim/20km bike/5km run) or the full distance (3.8km swim/180km ride/42.195km run), there is some necessary equipment you will need to include to get you through the race. With some careful preparation, you will be able to overcome the challenges that arise during the swim, ride and run portions of the event.
The start of each triathlon race begins with the swim. The equipment that you will require, does slightly depend on the climate in which you are racing, however there are some essentials you need to pack. The following is a short list with some useful tips accompanied:
- Triathlon suit - the triathlon suit is the first item of clothing you should put on and hence will go underneath your wetsuit. The special suit can be worn on the bike and run sections of the race and will allow for ease of transition. Not to mention it looks good too!
- Wetsuit - ensure you get a friend to help you pull it over your shoulders and around your waist before zipping it up. This will help to improve arm movement during the swim.
- Goggles - make sure to have your goggles well fastened to stop them coming off during a dive into the water, or incase you receive a knock from another swimmer.
- Swim cap - some triathletes like too put the swim cap over the goggles as it helps to stop them from coming off.
- Lubricant - to help take the wetsuit off with ease, place some lubricant on your arms and legs before putting on the wetsuit.
Once you exit the water from the swim, it is time to head through transition (more on this later) and head off onto the bike portion of the race. The fundamental equipment that you will require is as follows:
- Bike - obviously you are going to need to have a bike for this section of the race!
- Cycling shoes - these can either be pre-clipped onto your bike, or you can put them on during transition.
- Helmet - place the helmet on the handlebars with the buckle open and ready to go.
- Sunnies - these will protect your eyes during the race from glare and potential debris off the back of other cyclists.
- Bike repair kit - incase you get a flat tyre, you should take a spare tube and some basic tools to change it over.
- Nutrition/Fluid - depending on the length of your race, you need to have a nutrition strategy to provide you with enough energy to make it to the finish line. As a general rule your body will require one gram of carbohydrate per kilogram of body mass per hour. However your nutrition needs to be highly personalised and tested before race day.
- Bike clothing - if you are going to be out on the bike for a significant amount of time, then some extra clothing such as a water proof jacket, or calf/arm warmers may be required so that you don't succumb to the elements.
Once you have returned your bike into the transition area, it is now time to head out onto the last section of the triathlon and finish what you have set out to achieve. The basic equipment you will require to complete the race is as follows:
- Running shoes - your running shoes are critical to having an enjoyable race. Ensure that the shoes you race in fit your feet, and that you have trained in them prior to the event.
- Socks - taking a little bit of extra time to place some good quality running socks on your feet will help to ensure your feet stay comfortable on the run.
- Fuel belt - a fuel belt is designed to carry nutrition and hydration, so depending on the length of your race, this may be a useful item.
- Hat/Sunscreen - being protected from the elements throughout your race is critical to your health, and can also help to reduce heat stroke too.
The transition area of the triathlon is where you store the equipment you need for the ride and run sections of the race, and any other items you deem necessary. The transition is often considered the fourth discipline of triathlon and there are some items you should have in your race kit to help you get through quickly, these are:
- Towel(s) - a good idea is to place a bright or colourful towel in your transition area, so that you can easily identify where your gear is located. You may also want a smaller towel to quickly dry your feet and face after the swim.
- Talcum powder - place this in your cycling shoes and runners to help your feet slip in easier.
- Elastic bands - these may be useful if you have your cycling shoes already clipped onto your bike, as they can help stop the shoe from hitting the ground.
- Extra nutrition - if you are doing a longer race, you may want to have some extra bars or gels in the transition area that you can take out with you onto the run leg.
Having the correct equipment on race day can not only help you to have a more pleasurable experience, but can significantly improve your race times. The items discussed will help you to achieve and complete your first triathlon, however it is important to remember that no amount of fancy gear will get you across the finish line if you have not put in the appropriate amount of training. Overall it is important to remember to enjoy the day and learn from your experience. Ensure that you are process driven, and evaluate your performance on what worked and why, not purely on the place you achieved. Good luck!