When people learn that my passion is triathlon they almost immediately follow that up with something to the effect of “how can you afford that?!” Or “how much did you bike cost?”
*humble brag, yes I have a very nice bike*
However, this bike for one would not have been possible without some amazing people helping me when I was in to this sport and just coming out of college and two you do not NEED a bike that costs thousands in order to participate in a triathlon.
In this posts I will break down some of the most common misconceptions about the barrier to entry for this sport and some “hacks” on how you can start, train and finish a race on a budget!
First things first, lets cut to the chase, you will need some gear, without question. In the very least you will need the follow:
Swim suit- you can find these pretty inexpensive on swimoutlet.com or at a local shop. Most times you will have better luck with cheaper prices on line but in the off season check out local or big sporting goods stores. You should be able to pick one of these up for somewhere around $20.
Goggles- There are hundreds upon hundreds of varieties here. You can get them for as cheap as $5 and as expensive as $30. This really just depends on what you prefer. I really like a few different types. The cheap ones are “swedes” you can get them pretty cheap, they are very minimalist but they get the job done. Middle of the road, a little step up would be something along the lines of the Speedo Vanquisher. These provide a little more cushion, the are great but still under 20 bucks. The top end would be something along the lines of the TYR Special Opps. I have the transition lens model in these and I really like them a lot for triathlon swimming and open water swimming. They provide a great field of view and are very comfortable. Again these are over $20, could be upwards of $30 depending on what you choose, but these are the “top of the line” so to speak.
Swim cap, do not buy one of these, ask a friend, ask the pool where you are going to swim or send me an email (email@example.com) and I will send you 3 swim caps. There is no point in paying for one of these because everyone has at least 5 they aren’t using.
In all honesty that is it for the swim. You really don’t need much to get started. Most pools have the gear that you need for the swim (fins, kickboard, bouy, etc.). Remember you are just starting out, lets get a feel for things before we start getting too involved with gadgets and tools.
Next is the Bike, possibly the most expensive.
First and foremost you will obviously need a bike. You do not need a $10,000 bike. Allow me to repeat myself.
YOU DO NOT NEED A $10,000 BIKE.
When I first started I was put in contact with someone who was in a bike group/club. Turns out another member was selling an older bike and I could pick it up, upgrade a few things and be on the road for around $500 bucks. Granted I ended up very lucky in this, but my point is, shop around, look at models from last year, used models and talk with people who are in the sport. You do not need something brand new (unless you can great a great deal!) and you do not need something top of the line for your first bike. I have seen people race on mountain bikes, beach cruisers, hybrids, just about anything with 2 wheels.
Helmet. You are riding a bike on the road, you need a helmet. You can also get deals on these. Rudy Project has a ton of ambassadors out there and they have discount codes on their helmets. I have had 2 of these helmets and I have loved them so far, check them out. You other option is going to a shop or somewhere that sells helmets. My only piece of advice here is to make sure that whoever you’re getting it from, knows how to fit a helmet!
Water bottles, cages, etc. When you first jump in to the sport you do not need the pedals with the clips and the Garmin and every other bell and whistle for your bike. Just grab the basics! Two bottle cages on the bike(the thing that holds your water bottle) and two bottles. 9 times out of 10 if you buy your bike from a bike shop they will cut you a deal on cages and probably throw in bottles with their logo. Platform pedals will do the trick for you just fine and I bet you dimes to donuts you’ll be quicker in transition.
Bike clothes. At a minimum (depending on your budget, preference and your distance) I would suggest getting yourself a pair of cycling shorts or bibs. The difference between the two really comes down to preference. The “bib” style has suspenders that come over your shoulders whereas the shorts don’t.
At a minimum you will obviously need a pair of running shoes. My best advice for anyone who is starting out is the same advice I got when I first started. Go to a running store, have them look at your gait (the way you run) and they will put you in shoes that are right for you. Over color, over look, over how cool you think they are, the fit matters most. In order to stay injury free and avoid further problems down the road, please take this advice.
Other than shoes, running is also relatively inexpensive. Of course you might want a pair of shades, a hat or visor but again these are all based on preference. You can usually pick these things up on amazon or in the clearance bin at a local store. Don’t be ashamed to shop the clearance bins!!
If your goal is to do a triathlon or any race for that matter, the best thing to do, is just sign up. Don’t wait until you think you are ready or for your friend to sign up with you or anything of that nature. Sign up, especially now when race fees are still cheap. If you need to find a race in your area, google “Tri Find” or just google triathlons in “insert your city/town”. You will find loads of races near you!
If you have any questions, please send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org. I am happy to talk through things with you and answer any questions you may have. Remember anyone who is in triathlon or anything for that matter, started in the same position you are in!
Thanks for reading!
It would mean the world to me if you shared this with someone who is considering a triathlon this year!