September 7, 2021
A Perspective on Gear
What do you really need to race a triathlon? Feisty coaches Jamila Gale-Agans and Miranda Bush discussed how to race triathlon without breaking the bank during their weekly conversation, P(r)ep Talks, in the Feisty Triathlon Community FB Group. You can join here.
Text by: Miranda Bush
Triathletes love our sport. The swim, the bike, and the run. The camaraderie in the community. The blood, sweat, tears, and other unmentionable bodily fluids. The growth from the failures. It is life changing.
This sport has also given us a platform to demand and create cultural change. To bring light to inequalities in research, accessibility, equity, and inclusivity amongst much of our world’s population.
But, in case you haven’t learned this yet—triathlon can truly be f*cking expensive.
With the 20th anniversary of September 11th approaching, the recent events in Afghanistan, and some of my own personal heavy heartedness I have been thinking a lot about how I can add value and contribute to change. As I gain perspective I look at all things through a lens of reflection. I recently applied this to triathlon “stuff,” or gear. I often daydream about what standardized triathlon equipment could be like and how to make race entries more financially consistent. But, if all of my gear was stripped away—would I still race? Would you?
What gear really matters in triathlon?
Whether bought, given, or borrowed, there is a minimum amount of equipment and money needed to train for and race a triathlon. This includes goggles, a bicycle of any kind, a helmet, and some kind of sneakers. Women will also want a sports bra. Form fitting clothing is best, and of course bike or tri shorts with padding (a chamois) is recommended for longer distances. At minimum, you will need money for the race entry. These span between $50-$900+ depending on the brand and distance. Check out your local, unbranded, grass roots races for the lowest costs. Ask specific races about scholarship opportunities and contact https://fundhertri.org/ for general options.
The Next Step.
Of course the rest is always debatable. It is true that money does buy comfort and speed in triathlon racing, and many of these items are important for longevity in the sport. If you didn’t purchase your own bike as a necessity, I recommend it, including a bike fit, before investing in further gear (unless you have a long-term borrow agreement—then, good for you!) After that, I recommend the next level of financial commitment to include clipless pedals and bike or triathlon shoes, a GPS watch, a triathlon specific “kit” or suit, sunglasses, elastic shoe laces for faster transitions, and a hat or visor. And although you don’t need a wetsuit for all races, it fits into this category if you live in cooler climates and/or are not a strong swimmer, or are doing a wetsuit required race. Save money on wetsuits by shopping last year’s rentals at your local shops after your open water swim season ends. You can also use Facebook Marketplace, Ebay, and other resale sites to find great deals on new and used gear.
The Big Ticket Items.
This is where the sport can really elevate to next-level f*cking expensive. Upgrade your racing game by purchasing an aero helmet, a set of race wheels, or pair(s) of carbon plated run shoes. Spend money on equipment to help cultivate a stronger “engine,” like a power meter or pedals, a bike computer, and/or swim goggles that give your pace readout in the lens. You also may invest in your personal capabilities by purchasing a plan or hiring a coach, signing up for Master’s swim class, and acquiring a gym membership.
As technology changes quickly there will always be new gear triathlon to lust over. And, as you collect equipment it is not uncommon to dream about upgrades. Take opportunities for deals when you see them. As we all ponder what really matters to us I urge you to consider how you can give back to the sport and athletes of triathlon. Open your eyes to the financial barriers in your area. Consider how they exist not only for invested athletes, but how they create hurdles to interest in the sport. Let your new triathlete friends and teammates borrow your bike and other equipment. Donate. Research local mentorship opportunities or sign up through Rise and Tri Mentorship (https://fundhertri.org/rise-%26-tri-mentor-program). Encourage those who are new to the sport and support races and organizations that provide opportunity for all levels.
Gear is important in our sport. But, always keep in mind what really matters.
This article is a summary of from P(r)ep Talk: a weekly conversation in the Feisty Triathlon Community FB Group with Jamila Gale-Agans and Miranda Bush. Join every Wednesday at 11:00am PST for more candid discussions with experienced Feisty coaches. You can join the Feisty Tri Community here.