Triathlon checklist


So what exactly should the novice triathlete have on their triathlon checklist?

So you have decided to take up triathlon but really have no idea what you will need in the way of equipment in order to get started in your new sport.

Most likely you have done what most people do and you did some searching on the Internet, in Triathlon Magazines, or perhaps local triathlon, running, and bike shops.

Most likely you have come away totally confused or else under the misguided impression that triathlon is one very expensive sport for the well-to-do and it’s simply beyond your financial means.


When you checked things out and looked to sources in “the know” for information about what you would need in order to become a successful triathlete the triathlon checklist list seemed pretty much endless and went something like this…….

A triathlon bike with all the latest accessories including computer, aero-bars, titanium frame, clip-less pedals, a helmet, biking shorts, biking jersey, biking jacket and biking shoes. A wind-trainer, bike bag, bike rack, arm-warmers, foot-warmers, a tool-kit, a pump, running shoes, running shorts, and a tri-suit. A wet-suit, a swim-suit, swim goggles, swim cap, baseball cap, head-band, hand-paddles, pull-buoy, swim fins, and swim goggle anti-fog. A swim bag, gym bag, transition bag, GPS, pedometer, heart-rate monitor, and sunglasses.

Plus Gels, protein powder, carbohydrate powder, replacement drinks, energy bars, salt tablets, and diet books. Sun-block, training books, training videos, a gym membership, a triathlon coach, and a swimming coach.


A reliable road bike. A “triathlon bike” is not a great idea if you are new to cycling. Aero-bars are not a good idea if you are new to cycling. They don’t have to be part of your triathlon checklist if you are just starting out.

A good used “road bike” will do just fine to get you started. Triathlon bikes are not configured for comfort nor are they very forgiving and are not the best option until you have had a chance to work on basic bike-handling skills like going up and down hills and cornering.

This is far easier to do on a road-bike and it does not have to be brand new and expensive. You can always upgrade at a later date once you know which direction your triathlon career is going to take.

It also makes more sense to learn all the different hand positions on the classic “drop” handle-bars that all road bikes come equipped with before even considering aero-bars.

It’s important to maintain proper tire pressure so a bike pump is a necessity and you can’t race(or train in most cities)without a bike helmet. Sunglasses are essential to keep bugs and other foreign objects from getting in your eyes. They don’t have to cost $185. A pair that costs $8.95 at Walmart will serve this purpose just as well.

A wind-trainer should be on your Triathlon checklist

A wind-trainer should be on every triathlon checklist.

As far as cycling clothes it does make sense to have padded-bike shorts but you can wear pretty much any jersey or jacket that you like. Biking gloves are too hard to get on and off and really don’t search much of a purpose. If you feel you need arm-warmers, just cut the foot off of a pair of those long sports socks that cost about $7.99 for five pairs.

You don’t “have” to have those $200-$300 clip-less pedals on your triathlon checklist. You can go with the toe-straps that are on most bikes when they arrive from the factory. Clip-less pedals were not even invented until about 1986 so most of the early ironmen never used them.

As far as swimming goes it’s not a great idea to spend lots of money on swim suits as the chlorine that is in most pools is pretty hard on them. Chlorine makes no distinction between $65 designer swim-suits and a $19.95 pair you bought on sale. It eats them all equally.

It’s really best to avoid all those swimming aids as they become a crutch and you will begin to feel that you can’t swim well without swim fins or a pull-buoy. They prevent many people from learning proper technique. Scratch swim aids from your triathlon checklist.

You will need swim goggles as they function much like sun-glasses and will protect your eyes. However the key is not how much you spend on swim goggles, but rather how well they fit. A pair that costs $9.99 and don’t leak is better than a pair that costs $39.99 and do leak.

Most races will supply a swim-cap in your race bag as they normally have your race number on them.

These days it’s not really necessary to buy a wetsuit. It depends where you live of course, but it’s getting easier and easier to find places that will rent you a wet-suit. This way you can give them a try and perhaps use them in your first open water triathlon swims. You can always purchase one on sale at a later date if you feel you will use it often enough.

You will need a pair of running shoes, a top, and shorts, and on hot sunny days a cap of some sort is a smart idea and should be on your Triathlon checklist.

Most of my best Ironman results were powered by whole wheat bagels with peanut butter and honey and a few bananas. I have never taken a salt tablet in my life and I was endurance sports for almost 35 years. I have the dubious distinction of being in two of the hottest Ironman races in history and finishing both of them.


I will never forget the images of Dave Scott on his piece of crap bike in Kona back in the early days with his t-shirt flapping in the wind. No aero-bars, no clip-less pedals, no bike computer, no titanium and yet he would get off that bike and run a sub 3-hour marathon.

Any used road bike you buy today will be 100 times better than the bikes we relied on back in the early 1980’s, yet it never stopped us from reaching the Ironman finish line.

As far as nutrition they would pass you out pieces of bananas and oranges out on the course.

In a heart-beat I would take desire, sense of accomplishment, and the feeling of being a part of something special over all the fancy gear money can buy.

Don’t for one minute believe that you can’t be a part of this great sport because you “need” all this stuff that is on the market today. Yes it is very convenient and is great to have if it is within your means, but it should never be the determining factor in whether or not you become a triathlete.

I know for a fact that my books “Triathlete In Transition, Ironstruck…The Ironman Triathlon Journey, and Ironstruck? 500 Ironman Questions And Answers would do you more good than $10,000 worth of gear.

You can visit my ironstruck book store and find the perfect book for the new or experienced triathlete doing their very first try a tri triathlon or the Ironman.

If finances happen to be an issue, then buy one in inexpensive e-book format and see if you like it.

There’s no doubt that the triathlon checklists of today are far different from the ones from the early days of the Ironman.


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