What Triathlon Equipment Should You Have?
Whether you are a seasoned veteran triathlete or looking to get into the sport, the start of the New Year is always a good time to put together a short triathlon equipment wish list to prepare you for the upcoming season. Below I have compiled my personal Top 3 wish list of training or racing items for triathletes from all backgrounds and experience-level (beyond the staples necessary for triathlon competition).
Indoor Bike Trainer
The best training tool I have purchased for triathlon is an indoor bike trainer. There are several reputable brands and models available with a variety of options and at a wide price-range. When I first started triathlon I had an entry level trainer that was simple to use but did not have a lot of options/features. At that time the main purpose for me purchasing a trainer was to allow me to bike at home in the early morning hours while my children slept and/or when weather did not allow for outdoor riding. Throughout time, I came to value the trainer even more for the safety benefit and time-management qualities it offered as well. Since my first trainer purchase 17 years ago, I have upgraded and purchased one that offers other features such as power and spin analysis. These features have allowed me to better develop my training and racing skills by providing me with invaluable feedback. So, whether you are new to the sport or looking to upgrade, I find an indoor bike trainer to be a good investment for triathletes.
Extra Set of Wheels
While I have found an indoor bike trainer to be a near “necessity” training tool for me, a splurge item would be another set of wheels. As with indoor bike trainers, there are numerous brands and models of wheels available at a wide price range. When I first started the sport, I was a bit overwhelmed with all the equipment options, features, and sticker shock left me with having to prioritize what I needed and wanted with what would provide me the most benefit. My first extra wheel set was not a specific race wheel set, but rather another sensible durable cost-efficient set of wheels for convenience. It only took me one time missing a group ride due to my inability to quickly change a flat tire to realize that there would be a benefit in having a spare set to grab and go in a pinch if necessary. Granted, over time my ability to change a flat tire in a more timely improved but then there became the issue of a broken spoke, wear and tear in particular on the rear wheel/tire from the trainer, that I then realized the benefits of having a second set of wheels. From this, I then upgraded to a set of lighter, aero-dynamically improved wheels which are used for racing only.
Watch with a Heart Rate Monitor
My final item for the wish-list would be a training watch with heart rate monitoring. While not all triathletes have a trainer or an extra set of wheels, I would say most do use some sort of watch when training. As with the other items I have listed above, a triathlete has many options to choose from when making this selection. The most important thing I think is for an athlete to select a watch that he/she can easily use and furthermore, understand the feedback it provides. Having the ability to gather training data without the ability to use the functions and understand the feedback is futile. My first watch for triathlon provided a stopwatch and timer function. As heart rate monitors became more cost-effective, I then made that purchase. Heart rate training allows an athlete to train more effectively and provides feedback to the athlete beyond his/her own perceived exertion. Athletes are also able to track speed and distance, wattage, resting heart rate, and even sleep data with some watches/monitors. While I do not think it is necessary for every athlete to get the most expensive watch available, in particular if an athlete is not going to use all of the functions, there is benefit to monitoring training. My thought is that if I am going to make and take the time to train, that I want to be as effective with that time as possible, and one way for me to know that I am achieving that goal is by monitoring and evaluating my training sessions with a heart rate monitor.
Don’t Waste Your Money
Over the course of the past 17 years that I have been participating in triathlons, as an athlete I have made smart triathlon equipment purchases and unfortunately, when I was new to the sport, I also wasted money on poor equipment and gear choices. Now as a coach, I am frequently asked my opinion on what additional training tools an athlete should purchase when first starting the sport to what upgrades should a triathlete make to help with feedback, performance and perhaps taking his/her game to the next level. Triathlon is a sport with a lot of gear, a lot of choices, and at a varying price tag. Do not become overwhelmed with all that is available by staying focused on what you would find beneficial and most importantly, what you would actually use.
Have a great 2016 race season!