For a long time the ultimate feat of endurance was the marathon. Initially run by Pheidippides, a Greek messenger who ran from Marathon to Athens to announce that the Greeks had triumphed over the Persians. While the verity of that is up in the air, the story was such a good one that it was embraced by popular culture in the late 1800s and was eventually turned into an Olympic event. The initial group who ran it was small, but over 100 years later, it’s one of the more popular races with over half a million finishers.
So where do you go to when a marathon feels passé? For the most dedicated endurance athletes who are looking to push the limits past multiple hours of running, the triathlon is the race to join. There are a variety of different distances of this type of race, but two things remain consistent; the basic format (swim, bike, run), and the importance of having good gear. Switching between three modes requires incredible athleticism, a steel will, and athletic apparel that is just as versatile and tough as you are. From tire levers to running shoes to swimming goggles, we’ve assembled a list of some of the best triathlon essentials out there that’ll help you get through one of the most grueling races out there.
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. That should be the motto of anyone participating in a bike race. Yeah, sure. You’ve been training hills for months, you’re eating clean (and a lot), but if you don’t have a way to change a flat on your fancy bike, it may as well just be a really expensive rock. These will help you take off the outer tire and replace your busted tube with a fresh new one so you can make up for lost time.
Nuun Energy Tab
With all that swimming, running, and cycling, you’re going to want to allow yourself some replenishment during the race. One solid way to do that is with Nuun tablets. Thanks to the caffeine extract, b vitamins, and potassium in these tablets, you can get all of the electrolytes and energy you need to keep you hydrated and cramp free.
Continental Presta Tube
Flats suck, but they happen. Don’t be a dummy, come prepared for any ride – whether on race day or while training – and throw these tubes in your flat bag or jersey.
Bodyglide Anti-Chafe Balm
One of the unpleasant things about combining swimming with cycling and running is that at some point, you’re going to end up chafing a good deal. Remember how uncomfortable it was to jump in the creek as a kid and then getting out to ride your bike home in wet clothes? A triathlon is that X1,000. Protect yourself and throw on some of this anti-chafe balm to keep from being the least comfortable competitor on the course.
Stance Lightbox Socks
Some people like to just forget socks while competing. Some people are crazy. Unless you like blisters, it’s going to be worth it to bring along some solid moisture wicking socks along in your race bag. This pair features an articulated foot bed for little bit more padding and more efficient air-flow.
FuelBelt Race Belt
When it comes to attaching your bib to a shirt, pins suck. Well – they’re fine if you are running a road race and don’t have change outfits – but in a triathlon? They suck. The best alternative is to go with a belt you can clip around your waist to hold your bib and all of your favorite race-foods to keep you fresh from the first whistle to the finish line.
Innovations CO2 Tire Inflator
While you can’t match the speed of a F1 pit crew while changing your flat, you can at the very least kill a minute or so by using CO2 tire inflator. Thanks to the inflator’s use of CO2 canisters, it takes less then a second to fill up your tube with air so you can get back on the track and try and make up for lost time.
Camelbak Podium Chill Bottle
Water is good, cramps are bad. If you want to save yourself from some of the gnarliest charlie horses (and worst headaches) known to man, you have to keep a bottle of something cool and wet handy. This cycling bottle from Camelbak not only holds 21 ounces of the good stuff, but it is lightweight, insulated, and self sealing so you don’t have to worry about popping it closed.
Cliff Shot Bloks
Quick, small, and packed full of energy, Clif Shot Bloks are like the Kevin Hart of the race-food world. They’re easy to pack along with you, and each one comes full of caffeine, electrolytes, and calories to keep you going full tilt. To keep things interesting, the snacks come in a variety of different flavors, because who wants to eat ‘Black Cherry’ again and again and again?
Brooks Run-Thru Hat
Race hats are not a bad idea for two reasons; one, they keep the sun out of your eyes, two, they keep sweat out of your eyes. They’re essentially your eyes second best friend (first being sunglasses). This particular cap is made out of incredibly lightweight material and mixed with DriLayer,a stretch-woven fabric that helps wick sweat to keep you cool and dry while on a run.
Zone 3 Attack Goggles
At the very least, race goggles should do one thing. Keep water out of your eyes. This pair from Zone 3 products does a whole lot more than that. They keep you comfortable thanks to eye sockets made from a soft silicone, they keep your eyes protected from the sun with polarized lenses, and they have an anti-fog treatment that prevents that annoying buildup on the inside of your goggles. Clear eyes, sore muscles, can’t lose.
Saucony Kinvara 7 Shoe
Long distances require shoes that’ll keep you comfortable and supported no matter what. Saucony’s Kinvera 7’s meet those requirements and then some. They’re lightweight, responsive, and just like any triathlon racer, they’re incredibly durable. These qualities are due in part to the brand’s use of their proprietary Tri-Flex sole that disperses force evenly across the foot while remaining flexible enough to pop back up with your foot.
Shimano Carbon SPD-SL Pedals
These are racing pedals through and through. Made from carbon and given a low profile body, they’re lightweight and slip making it just that much easier to give it your all and take corners at tight angles. With your shoes clipped into your bike pedals you’ll get a more efficient transfer of energy into your bike that could help put more competitive athletes over the edge.
Giant Alpecin Rivet Race Helmet
Protecting your noggin should be priority numero uno for anyone on a bike. No matter how good you are or how many years you’ve been pushing along from point a to b on your bike, you’re not immune to gnarly spills. Giant’s Alpecin helmet is built to keep you both protected and fast thanks to its aerodynamic design. The helmet has a surprisingly low drag, and thanks to a couple of large ventilation holes, it’ll keep you nice and cool as well.
SIDI Air Carbon Cycling Shoes
When you are sitting in a saddle and giving it all your got, the last thing you want to be worrying about is uncomfortable feet. You still have a run to complete after the cycling leg of the race – no need to wreck your feet beforehand and make it harder. These shoes from SIDI are incredibly lightweight, breathable, and thanks to a sole made from a mix of nylon and carbon fiber, they’re rigid as hell. All of this will make for both a better ride and a longer lasting, more durable shoe.
Oakley Radarlock Path Prizm
Having a pair of sun-blockers on while running or riding during a triathlon is never a bad idea. They’ll both keep your peepers protected from harmful rays and keep you from getting all weepy and dry eyed on those downhill sections. Oakley’s Radarlock Path Prizm are a premium pick for those looking to add some sunglasses to their kit. Not only do these bad boys look good, but they can easily switch out different types of lenses thanks to Oakley’s Switchlock technology.
Roka Elite Aero SS Tri Suit
CEO’s and world leaders often limit their clothing options in an attempt to pare down their decisions. With so many to make in a day, why waste energy on what you’re going to throw on your back? Roka’s Elite Aero SS Tri Suit offers a similar appeal. One suit. Three events. It can take them all on. From swimming to cycling to riding this breathable and functional suit has you covered.
Suunto Ambit3 Sport Watch
Keeping track of your own stats while you’re in a race or while training can make a real difference. You can keep yourself in check, more grounded in reality, and on pace for your goal time. One of the best watches out there for doing this is the Suunto Ambit 3. With multiple sport modes ranging from cycling, triathlon, indoor training, and open water swimming, this watch can read out your heart rate, time, distance and a whole lot more. To top it off, the 100 hours of battery life means that it’ll keep ticking even if you are bringing in the rear.
Evoc Bike Travel Transport Bag
Chances are you are going to be traveling at least a little bit in order to get to starting point. If that is the case, it is not a bad idea to put one of your most valuable pieces of gear – your bike – in a protective case designed for travel. Not only will it make the whole experience that much more smooth (bikes are a little unwieldy if you haven’t already noticed), but a bag will also help protect the frame and components.
Specialized Shiv Pro Race X1
A carbon frame, integrated hydration system, SRAM components; the only thing missing on this bike is you. Ready to go right out of the box this lightweight beast of a bike is designed specifically to help you hit those P.R.’s and take your racing to a whole new level.