Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Triathlon gear recommendations part 2: Bike

The bike leg. You love it or you hate it. 

But either way, you're going to spend the majority of your time on the bike, and the majority of your money on cycling gear. This is the discipline you can spend a FORTUNE on. But remember, especially if you're a beginner, all the tools & gear are only helpful once you have the base line to get the most out of them. Give yourself time, and ease into new things when you KNOW what will help you most. That may take a while so be patient & don't jump the gun or you'll end up spending more & getting something that's not right for your needs. If in doubt, ask your triathlon coach their recommendations.

Beginner level:
-Any bike that 1) Has plenty of gears that work 2) Has reliable brakes 3) Moves when you pedal. Seriously, any bike will do when you're a beginner. Don't spend an extraordinary amount until you know you're going to like it & you have the skills to get the most out of the bike.

-Helmet - a USAT approved road helmet will do, no need for the aero or time trial helmet. See the difference here.

-Triathlon shorts - I recommend these instead of cycling shorts. You'll be wearing tri shorts in the race anyway, so why get cycling shorts AND tri shorts. No need. Tri shorts have less padding in the saddle area.

-Tri top or cycling top - really a tri top is better but if you want a cycling specific top for your rides that's fine.

-Basics such as a water cage & bottle, tire pump & equipment to change a flat, a small bike specific bag to carry all of this. I like xlab. You also need to learn how to change a flat tire. Here in Honolulu you can take a course with the Honolulu Bicycle League.

Non beginner level:
-Indoor bike trainer. I like Cyclops but there's a lot of good ones out there. Talk to your local bike shop. No need for a fancy trainer, get one that fits the budget.

-Clipless pedals & shoes. Again, spend some time trying on shoes & doing some research on what fits you, your budget. There's a lot of good brands out there.

-Some kind of tracker like a Garmin so you can track cadence, speed, HR etc.

-Road bike - trial ride as many as possible to find the most comfortable one for your body. Comfort is key when looking for your bike. 

Once you've gotten your pedals and trainer use them well. They'll be a big asset to your triathlon career. The indoor trainer is an important tool even if you live in a year round warm climate. 

From there, check these out:

Triathlon bike (aka time trial bike) or aerobars for your road bike (personal preference between tri bike & just adding aerobars to your road bike in my opinion. It depends on the size of your race, your body's needs, budget & how hard core you get into things. Some coaches would say definitely a tri bike. I'm not one of them). 

Once you're well versed with cycling & have the bike you'll be spending some time with, you can check out getting a power meter. I have a Quarq & love it but the one you get will depend on a multitude of things. This is something you and your coach can discuss. I recommend power meters only after you've done several triathlons, want to really get into it, have THE bike you want plus everything else I've mentioned. 

Remember that you could get the latest most fancy bike, get all the gear and still not do well. It's not the gear, it's the engine - that's you! So train smart, train often & get a triathlon coach or get into a group! 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Triathlon gear recommendations part 1: Swim

If you're a triathlete you know trying to figure out what tools you should get can be both confusing and expensive. Some gear & tools are a great investment, some are helpful only if you're beyond entry level & some you can skip altogether. 

Here's a guideline that I hope will help at least steer you in the right direction. This is part one, the swim, in a three part series.

BEGINNER
(anyone who has never done a triathlon, or is on their first season. That's not an 'official' beginner label it's a guideline)
-Swim cap 
-Goggles (I like Aquasphere but any that fit well will do)
-Comfortable fitting swimsuit to train in; nothing that's loose. You can also swim in your tri top/bottom (more on that later)

Optional 
-swim snorkel. This is strictly optional & isn't necessary if you're working with a swim coach. 

NON BEGINNER
-Some kind of waterproof tracker like a Garmin to collect pace & stroke information
-Tempo trainer - I highly recommend getting a tempo trainer. You'll find it to be invaluable. 

Finis Tempo Trainer
Optional
-Fins short fins are better for triathlon training

Again these are strictly optional & in my opinion largely unnecessary. If you're working with a swim coach, they can give you recommendations if these are appropriate for your needs.  

Keep in mind using tools and gear can be helpful but you can also grow dependent on them. So if you do use them, sprinkle them into your training as only part of the swim session.

Lastly, if you're going to spend your money on something in triathlon, you're going to get - by far - the most of out hiring a swim coach. So if you're able to get even a few coaching sessions with a triathlon specific coach, it will be well worth the investment. 


Happy swimming!