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Understanding Triathlon Training Gear

Whether it's your first triathlon or one of many, it's important to adequately train so that your body is prepared for the physical exertion. The three events of a triathlon (swimming, cycling, and running) each require different gear for training. In this guide, you'll learn about the different types of triathlon gear so that you can train hard with the proper equipment.


Some people argue that the swim event is the most exhausting in a triathlon due to rough water conditions. The water can often be choppy, freezing, and tough to navigate. However, with some hard work, you can train to help you pass through the swim portion with relative ease. Here are some basic items that are important for training:

  • Wetsuits: A wetsuit is a great option for triathlons although they're typically only allowed in waters up to 78 degrees. A wetsuit helps keep your body warm by creating a thin space between your body and the suit. This space fills up with water which is then heated by your body. Wetsuits also offer great buoyancy to help you keep afloat. When training, it's important to swim in open water. Pools tend to be at higher temperatures and you may run the risk of overheating.
  • Pull Buoys: Using a pull buoy in your swim routine will help strengthen your arm muscles and swim technique. A pull buoy is a buoyant piece of foam that is shaped like an "8." The foam is held between your thighs which allows your lower body to float. With your lower body floating, you can focus all of your attention on improving your arm strength and breathing. When training with a pull buoy, try practicing different strokes or holding the buoy between your ankles. You'll help condition your body and prepare yourself for rough ocean waters.
  • Swim Paddles: You can build your upper body strength with swim paddles. Swim paddles are durable paddles that secure to your hands to help develop proper stroke mechanics and strength. Swim paddles should be around 10% bigger than your hand.

*It is important to not use swim aids such as swim paddles and pull buoys for more than 25% of a workout. Although swim aids will help develop your technique and strength, they are only aids and it's important to train without them as well.


Cycling comprises the longest portion of a triathlon. As a triathlete, it's wise to invest in a lightweight, durable road bike. When searching for a bike, it's best to visit a bike shop as opposed to a department store. Shops dedicated to solely selling bikes tend to have a larger selection in addition to a staff that can help you choose the perfect, lightweight bike. Furthermore, the following is a list of products to aid you in your cycling training:

  • Clipless Pedals: Clipless pedals are incredibly efficient and great for the long distances you'll cycle during training. The pedals have a locking feature that allow your bike shoes to securely clip into place. When clipped into your pedals, your feet can follow through after pushing down. In addition, they'll be able to make a full rotation with each stroke. You'll utilize powerful muscles that aren't otherwise used with a traditional platform pedal.
  • Technology: When training, you'll need a way to track your progress. A heart monitor or GPS watch are helpful ways to track workout goals. Many GPS watches have heart monitors built into the device as well. Whether you're starting a new workout regimen or want to compete for a faster time, your heart rate during different parts of training will tell you how much your progressing. For example, you'll want to aim for a lower resting heart rate than your resting heart rate at the beginning of your exercise regimen. A lower heart rate means your heart doesn't have to work as hard to pump blood. Your heart is a powerful muscle and working out will help strengthen it along with its efficiency in pumping blood.
    1. Applications: You can download certain apps on your smartphone to help you throughout training. Many cyclists tend to favor Strava. Strava is an app that allows you to share your bike rides with friends and track how far you cycled. You can also earn special achievements for meeting your goals. Apps like Strava are great motivators to accomplish more in your training sessions. If you have a smartphone, feel free to check out the application store for convenient apps that'll keep you motivated while tracking your progress.


Much like cycling, a heart monitor or GPS watch are excellent tools for training. Usually, they'll measure your distance, pace, type of activity, and calories burned. Many of these devices allow you to upload all of the recorded data to your computer so you can further analyze how far you've come.

Lastly, quality running shoes are a must! When training for the running portion, your shoes will become your new best friend. An ill-fitting pair of running shoes can lead to blisters and injuries. Before buying running shoes, you should head to a good running shoe store. The specialists there will be able to analyze your feet and running habits. With the proper information and measurements, you'll be able to find the ideal pair of running shoes.

Train Hard with the Right Tools

There are countless types of training gear to help you with each event of your triathlon. In addition, the strength you gain while training for one event will help you with other events. Training for a triathlon is hard work and takes serious dedication. However, you'll soon reap the benefits on race day.

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