March always has a special place in my heart because eight (OMG, e-i-g-h-t!) years ago in March, I decided to do my first triathlon.
I wasn’t really sure what a triathlon even was, but I desperately needed a new challenge and an inspiring workout goal, so when I saw the flyer (yup, we had these things called flyers back then), I decided to give triathlon a “tri”. You can read my story here.
I completed my first triathlon with an inexpensive pair of goggles, a borrowed wetsuit that was too big, a bike from Wal-Mart, my old helmet and my worn out running sneakers. Oh, and a pair of spandex and a tank from good ‘ol Target.
I probably would have been better off without the wetsuit, but I wore it because I thought that’s what you were supposed to do. The second I got in the water, it filled up like a balloon and made me feel like I was swimming through quicksand. I haven’t worn a wetsuit since.
Nope, not even for my half-ironman… and Davey hasn’t worn one either.
The point is, you don’t need a wetsuit. Yes, it can help make you more buoyant and keep you warm, but in my opinion, it’s not a necessity for your first triathlon.
Here six things that are essential for your first triathlon.
1. Goggles – I bought a cheap pair from Target and I still use them to this day if I forget to bring my other pair. I now have a mid-range pair of goggles and if I’m being perfectly honest, I don’t notice a huge difference. The main thing is to make sure whatever pair you use doesn’t leak. And spit works great as a de-fogger.
2. Swim cap – Even though you get a swim cap in your race packet, if you’re a girl with long hair, you’ll want to get a cap to wear when you train. Nothing is worse than having your hair attack your face like a sea monster while you’re swimming. Latex caps are the cheapest option, but since I have a Latex sensitivity, I went with Silicone.
3. A Bike – Dilemma: No one has a bike you can borrow, you don’t have a spare bike sitting in your garage, and you don’t want to spend a ton of money on a new bike because, at this point, you’re not even sure if you like doing triathlons!
I bought my first road bike from Wal-Mart. It was actually a men’s bike (I had no idea) and it worked great. Road bikes have come a long way since then and there are some pretty decent ones at stores like Wal-Mart and Target for a great price.
4. A Helmet – A helmet is a non-negotiable. Take it from an ER nurse (me) and don’t EVER ride your bike without a helmet. If you’re using an old helmet, make sure there are no visible dents or cracks and ensure that your helmet sits snugly on the top of your head and doesn’t move around when you fasten the straps.
5. Spandex – I know, I know. It sucks and you wish it wasn’t necessary. Me too. I was horrified to wear spandex for my first triathlon, but it’s honestly the most comfortable and versatile option. The good news is that you don’t need expensive tri shorts! I got mine from.. you guessed it, Target, but Old Navy has some fancy ones here that I have my eye on. For less than $20, go get a pair of spandex.
p.s. – Davey wore board shorts for his first few triathlons and was fine, but once he got a pair of tri shorts, he never went back.
6. Sneakers – Chances are, you already have a pair of sneakers. Dust them off, lace them up and you’re ready to run!
And that’s it. Don’t let fear of having to buy too much gear stop you from doing your first triathlon. You don’t need as much as you think you do!
Got the gear and ready to train? Check out our 12-week sprint triathlon training program for lots of awesome beginner triathlete tips, how-to videos, practical advice and MORE!
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