Get Your Gear Together

By Allie Burdick | Nov. 17, 2016, 4:27 p.m. (ET)

goggles and swim cap

The offseason is a great time to organize all of your training and racing gear and to buy replacements or upgrades. Triathletes have a lot to manage when it comes to gear, and the offseason is a perfect time to take stock of what is needed, what can be discarded and what needs an upgrade!

Essentials

When it comes right down to it, triathletes need only these essentials to train and race:

  • Swim
    • Well-fitting swimsuit
    • Goggles
    • Swim cap
    • Wetsuit
  • Bike
    • Road or triathlon bike
    • Helmet
    • Bike shoes
  • Run
    • Proper, well-fitting running shoes

That’s it. Everything else is an add-on, and it’s really up to the individual how much they want to add. I personally think the longer you race, the more stuff you accumulate!

Best Upgrades 

Swim

You can get the most bang for your buck in the swim by purchasing a good wetsuit. Quality wetsuits range in price from the affordable, entry-level wetsuit in the $200-300 range to the upper tiers from $600-1,000. Comfort is the most important thing when purchasing a wetsuit so be sure to try them on before buying! Wetsuits also range in thickness so you will want to research or ask questions about the level of buoyancy as well as any special features like special coatings or breakaway zippers.

Here are nine rules to keep in mind when selecting a wetsuit.

Bike

For the price of a higher end wetsuit, you can get a pretty amazing triathlon bike. Here is the breakdown of quality components that are standard for a lot of triathlon bikes in the $600-$1200 price range: 

Frame: Usually a standard road frame made from aluminum or steel. You may see a carbon fiber fork but, if not, can pay for the upgrade. 

Wheels: Look for something comparable to DT Swiss spokes which are high end for this price range but not as aerodynamic as higher-priced racing wheels.

Components: Look for Shimano components which are very high quality.

Pedals: You may need to change out the cages for clipless pedals but can purchase them for a little as $60.

Run

Running shoes are definitely the only thing you really need to worry about when it comes to the run. Since every runner and triathlete is different, you should visit your local running specialty store for a (usually free) gait analysis and be fitted for the proper shoes for you.

Once you figure that out, you can play around with clothing and accessories like muscle and joint stabilizing tights, a chafe-resistant shirt and the sweat-wicking hat.

Accessories AKA Wish List

Power Meter

What it is: A cycling power meter is a device on a bicycle that measures the power output of the rider. Most cycling power meters use strain gauges to measure torque applied, and when combined with angular velocity, calculate power.

Why you want one: It accurately measures your output so you can calculate your effort over the duration of your ride. This allows you to identify your strengths and weaknesses over varying terrain so you can create better workouts based on actual data.

Garmin fēnix

What it is: A GPS watch with activity tracking, Bluetooth connectivity and functionality for open water swims, cycling, running and many more activities like SUP and hiking.

Why you want one: It’s aesthetically appealing, holds a charge for up to a week and has a triathlon specificity for not only all three disciplines of training but also a race, complete with laps for T1 and T2.

Clean Out Your Closet

Once you take stock of what you need versus what you have, it’s time to get rid of old or unused gear. Consider donating gear, shoes or clothing that can still be used or sell them online.

You can also check with larger retailers like Garmin or ROKA and take advantage of the upgrade or buy back programs they offer.

Allie Burdick is an ACE certified personal trainer and fitness instructor. She has been running and competing her entire life and was recently part of Team USA in duathlon and will be competing at the 2016 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships. Her writing has appeared in Runner's World, Women's Running and ESPNW. She blogs about triathlon and marathon training at VitaTrain4Life.com. 

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and not necessarily the practices of USA Triathlon. Before starting any new diet or exercise program, you should check with your physician and/or coach.