Ironwoman Wednesday: Must-Have Triathlon Gear

Welcome back to another Ironwoman Wednesday!

If this is your first time here, Ironwoman Wednesday is a weekly link-up brought to you by Jamie at From Couch to Ironwoman, Michelle at IronwomanStrong and myself! We’re all training for Ironman Louisville and are talking triathlon every Wednesday. (Checkout Tri Talk Tuesday for more triathlon-related talk too!)


Today we’re talking gear!

I have a page with a list all of my triathlon gear, so instead of recreating that page, today I’m going to talk about must-have gear, especially for long distance triathlons. Note this list is my opinion on what is a must-have, so don’t run out and buy everything just because I listed it, although you probably won’t regret it, if you do buy it all.

_DSF1262Every triathlete needs the basics; swim cap, goggles, bathing suit and/or tri kit. If you’re doing a cold water race, a wetsuit is useful, but for anything above ~72 degrees I love my speedsuit. Speedsuits are pretty pricey, so I wouldn’t rush out and buy a new one just because I told you I love mine. I got mine on a super sale, for like $80, and Pablo recently got super lucky and got one for free!

I think more important must-haves, once you start putting in some miles at the pool, are your training props.

photo-2Here are three props I recommend:

  • Paddles – I’ve read a lot about paddles, some people love ’em, some people hate ’em. I’ve been using them for over a year and have improved significantly over that year. It’s not just the paddles of course, but they’ve definitely helped!

    So what do paddles do? Paddles help you improve your technique and they provide some strength training while swimming, because they provide extra resistance.

    Here’s a piece of advice…don’t be like the guy at my pool who swims with paddles his entire hour in the pool. Our 2800 meter swim for tomorrow for example includes 4X125 meters of pulls and our 2700 meter swim on Friday only has 100 pull.
  • Pull Buoy – The pull buoy also gets used during your pull sets. It goes between your thighs and keeps your legs afloat so that you can focus on your arms. I’ll also use the buoy during drills when I am trying to focus on specific parts of my stroke and don’t want to have to worry about my arms and my legs. You can sometimes borrow a buoy at the pool or you can buy one for about $10.
  • Fins – Fins do for your legs what paddles do for your arms. They help you focus on your form, including for me improving my hip rotation and get you some strength training while in the water.

Screen Shot 2014-06-05 at 6.40.27 AM
Just yesterday one of my Facebook groups was having a discussion about how to make the bike ride more comfortable. If you’ve done long miles on your bike, road or tri, you know there is a level of discomfort you have to learn to embrace. Not to get too TMI, but saddle sores are a real thing, and they suck, and getting used to aerobars for 5+ hours makes you feel like you are working out your shoulders more than your legs which are actually doing the heavy work.

A bike, comfy bike/tri shorts, clips, bike/tri shoes, flat kit and a helmet are all basics any triathlete should have, but here’s my list of cycling must-haves:

  • A good saddle! I am so lucky that Emma came with the Adamo Road saddle that I immediately fell in love with, but not everyone is as lucky and if you hate your saddle, find a bike store that has a test program.
  • photo 1-2Chamois Butt’r – The reality though is that no matter how much you love your saddle, there’s a big chance you are going to feel some pain down there. The worst pain you can have is saddle sores. A better saddle can resolve this, but the absolute must-have for long rides is Chamois Butt’r (or some other brand of chamois cream). It’s like putting on diaper cream, but that stuff works and makes 60+ mile rides so much more enjoyable!
  • IMG_4239Bento Box –  Long rides equals food buffet. I eat small pieces of my nutrition every 15 minutes. Some people carry their food in their back pockets or tape it to the bike, but I carry most of it in my bento box.
  • Aerobars plus hydration– whether as part of the tri bike or put onto your road bike, I think aerobars become a must once you’re doing long distance riding. I definitely know people who don’t use them, but I like having options and have loved them on both my road and tri bike. Plus, you can’t beat having your hydration available right there. With my Profile Design aerobottle all I have to do is lean down and I’m drinking. Definitely helps when your plan tells you to consume a bottle of liquid every hour.

Definitely check out my 12 Long Run Essentials but here are my 4 must-haves:

  • IMG_3788Anti-Chafe – Chafing is real and it sucks! Sports bra straps on my shoulder, around my chest, my arms right below armpits when I run with a tank top, elastic waistband (think hip bones, lower back), anywhere my skin can rub against itself or anywhere where my skin will rub consistently against clothing, I’ll cover in Body Glide.
  • Sunscreen – I’ve written about sunscreen in my Long Run Essentials and more recently in my Beat The Heat post and I can’t stress it enough. While I was not thrilled to be all white after running by the sunscreen volunteers at Ironman Raleigh, I was thrilled when I finished the race with a beautiful tan and no burnt skin at all!
  • IMG_3915

  • Fuelbelt – The Fuelbelt is to run what the bento is to bike. While races will typically offer a range of nutrition, I’m very picky with my flavors, so I like carrying most of it myself. I also love my Fuelbelt because it serves as my bib holder too!
  • Road ID – Get one, wear it whenever you run or ride, hope you never have to use it, but know that if something does happen, they’ll be able to access your in case of emergency contact and any medical information you include on the ID or have stored on the site.

What are some of your must-have gear? Do you use any of the gear I listed? Link-up with us and share your gear checklist, favorites, must-haves or any other gear-related stories! And come back next week when we talk strength training!

  1. I got so spoiled by the pool at UVA–they have pull buoys and kickboards and things there, and when I left I was at a loss. So now I swallow a lot of water, in my teeny tiny pool. AND PREACH for anti chafe at numero uno for running. I always tell new runners/racers to put it everywhere, especially where anything ends–seams, the tongue of your shoes, the edges of your bra, NIPS, under boob, just save yourself the trouble.

  2. Always like looking at the gear other triathletes use. Thanks for the pits and the link-up! My favorite piece of gear would have to be my bike but man it’s so hard to pick just one!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *