triathlon and family can mix

If I Could Afford It

My local triathlon store doesn’t have layaway. Ah, it is probably for the best.

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Read any magazine and you are inundated with adverts for the newest wetsuit, bike, or shoes guarenteed to shave precious seconds off your finish time. Finally, the podium is within reach…..

There is some pretty nice gear out there these days. It can be tough to pass by a bike store without having to stop in and check out the latest ‘super tri-bike’ or the newest lightweight running shoe. If you follow me on twitter, if you don’t you should, you know that I have somewhat of a running shoe fetish.

If there was a statistic for how much money was spent on triathlon specific gear, I am talking aero helmets, tri specific apparel, hydration systems, I bet the number would be staggering. I admit, I have fallen into the ‘If I only had (insert gear here), I would be faster” trap once or twice. It seems to take the work out of triathlon, just get the right stuff and everything will work out. Luckily, I have been able to avoid this for the most part and continue with the gear I currently have.

Sorry Cervelo, that P5 with my name on it will have to wait.

So the question is, “does gear make you faster?”

The short answer, in my opinion, is no. Your physical and mental toughness gained through training and experience will make you faster, not the gear under your feet. By setting realistic but hard season goals, training smarter (not necessarily harder), dialing in your nutrition plan, and studying each race course you will give yourself an unfair advantage come race day.

The long answer is a bit more complicated. I don’t advocate buying gear that promises to make you faster, but if it can make things a little easier for you, then it may be worth the investment. If you are just starting out, there is a couple of purchases that after you first season, will help you shave time from your finishes. Here is what I think you can spend money on, if you want to.

Race specific road bike instead of your clunky mountain or commuter bike. There is no secret corelation between your bike and your split time; road specific bike offers less rolling resistance, better gear ratios, and overal comfort. It doesn’t have to be a TT/Tri bike, even tough they are awesome.
Well fitting tri-suit allows for an easy T1 as you wear it in the water and they will dry once on the bike; it doesn’t take long. The padding is less than a pair of bike shorts which will allow you to run in them as well. Easier T2.
Pair of swim goggles that are perfectly fitted to your face. Nothing is worse than swimming half of your open water swim with one eye flooded. Find a good pair and buy 3, 2 clear and 1 tinited for those pesky swims into the sun.
Speed laces will help with the frustration in T2. If you have tried tying your shoe laces before, you know what I mean. Put your shoes on, tighten, run. Fast.

That is it. You got this far with the gear you have, so reward it by not ditching it the second something better comes along. Spend more time swimming, biking, and running with some weight training mixed in, and you will continue shave time of each race.

Question: Have you tried gear that you thought would work and ended in disappointment?

P.S. – No piggy banks were harmed for this blog post.

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5 responses

  1. I am still relatively new to this and will not be doing my triathlon till next year. I can attest to how much all this initially costs as financing was my downfall for my bike purchase not layaway. But even before spending over 1500 on bike gear, there was the Italian swim goggles I found I could not live with out, or the running shoes and compression shorts and ..and … and. It never seems to end. The point is I am trying hard to get gear that will be used and so far I think I am pretty spot on. Luckily. Of course I am just getting into the bike portion and I can see money getting wasted there. Running shoes, I feel you, I am addicted as well.

    September 28, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    • You are not alone on the roller coaster of ‘and…and…and’, just remember that your preparation will make your first race more enjoyable than the bike you are riding or the shoes you are in.

      Good luck in your first race.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:03 pm

      • Yeah, I hear you. Starting and maintaining a blog has done wonders as well.

        September 29, 2012 at 9:51 pm

  2. No doubt, one could spend thousands on all the cool “have to have” stuff out there today.

    I agree with all the necessity items you list. I changed to a road bike just before my first race, from an older mountain bike, and shaved 10 minutes of my previous best time (it was actually 15 but I’m giving myself the extra 5 just for the race itself).

    The one item I would add would be a well fitted wetsuit. Unless you’ve swam competitively and in open water your entire life, this is really a must have purchase. You won’t regret the buoyancy and assistance it provides in the water.

    September 29, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    • A wetsuit is a good addition, although racing in Canada, we don’t think twice about wearing one……

      September 29, 2012 at 8:48 pm

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