Thursday, November 11, 2010

Triathlon Training Essentials

As I get ready to start my Ironman Training program I thought I would lay out a few Triathlon gear essentials.  This list isn't all inclusive even if I've listed items like running shoes and bikes.  They are just some of the things that I wouldn't do without, but some of you may not need or want. Here goes.

Let's start with the Swim.

The first thing you need is a good set of goggles.  Goggles are relatively inexpensive but if you don't have a pair you'll quickly find that the chlorine in the pool will irritate the heck out of your eyes.

The next item you need is a wetsuit.  Not all races are wetsuit legal races but evern though I'm from the midwest where it gets hot as blazes in the summer, I've only done one race that was not wetsuit legal.  In addition to keeping you warm they also give you a bit of extra flotation.  These can get fairly expensive but if you are just begining in triathlon or just don't want the expense you can rent a wetsuit from here, they'll also give you the option to buy.

What's this next little item you ask?  It's a waterproof case and earphones for an iPod shuffle.  While many people may not view this an essential item, I do.  I've spent hours in the pool trying to improve my stroke (with few positive results) and this little baby makes the laps fly by.  Get one for your shuffle or other iPod here I highly recommend it.

Now on to the Bike.

You don't have to get a super fancy bike like the one pictured (I've been bugging Shantel to let me get the  bike in the picture and I think I might have succeeded) but you've got to have a  bike.  It's an essential part of the swim/bike/run theme of Triathlons.  I've seen people do Half Ironmans on mountain bikes, I've seen athletes do sprint triathlons on cruisers, all that matters is that you have a bike.  All of my bikes have been used so you can find some good deals out there on Ebay, Craigslist or through your local triathlon club with someone wanting to upgrade and get rid of thier old bike.  Just make sure you get one that fits you and spend the extra money to go to the local bike shop and have them fine tune it to fit your frame.  Not only will you go faster but you will be more efficient and have a better transition from the bike to the run.

To go with your bike you'll also need a helmet, it's a USAT rule that you can't race without a helmet, in fact if the helmet must even be buckled outside of the transition area.

For those of you that live in an area that doesn't have a long biking season a bike trainer is absolutely essential, especially if you plan doing an early season race.  I also like to set up in a room with a TV and watch a movie or something while also getting my workout on.  There are several different varieties available and I've got a cyclops brand that I've had for years and use constantly and it continues to hold up.

Finally for the run portion.

You'll need a good pair of running shoes.  Shantel is always giving me crap that I actually have more shoes than she does.  That's not strictly true but it's close.  I go through a pair of running shoes about every 3-4 months.  I'm a big guy (190-200lbs) so I pound the heck out of my shoes and I change them often.  A good rule of thumb is to change them out every 300-400 miles.

The next run essential is an elastic system that makes it so you don't have to tie your shoes, you just slip into them and off you go.  I have been using these for years on my running shoes and absolutely love them.  You  can get a pair like I use from here.   

A heart rate monitor is the next run essential.  I'm a big fan of training in heart rate zones.  It works for me and tons of other runners so try it yourself sometime.  I also use a Garmin 305 Forerunner GPS as my heart rate monitor.  Not only does it track my heart rate, download the data to my computer but it tells me how far I've gone.  I can even use it to see how I do against previous runs along the same route.  Finally it can also measure my bike works out my rpms and catagorize it differently than my runs.  It's also a little on the expensive side but I can't imagine training without it, so I've definitely gotten my money's worth out of it.

The last run item can also be used for swimming as noted above.  That's an MP3 player of some kind, I really don't know what I'd do if I didn't have my iPod when it comes to long swim workouts or long runs.  I don't use it while biking and don't recommend any one else does either. 

The final thing you need for triathlon training is a plan.  There are a ton of them out there, some for free like the ones listed here and here or some will cost you a little bit.  As a 26 year old I did my first Half Ironman and I finished in around 7 1/2 hours without a coherent training plan.  As a 35 year old I did my second and third Half Ironmen finishing one in just over 6 hours and the other in 6 1/2.  The difference was that I had a plan and it worked.


Post a Comment