What Do You Need to Start Doing Triathlons?


Get all the essentials before you start training for a triathlon.

USA Endurance
Your training partners are entering local triathlons, and you’ve decided to sign up for the next race. But you question whether or not you have the right type of equipment, gear or training. The most important consideration for starting triathlons is to determine your level of commitment. For example, are you going to compete recreationally or are you planning on trying to compete for an age-group award? After deciding your commitment level, you can easily choose the basic gear and equipment needed to finish your first triathlon.


With three separate sports, including swimming, cycling and running, each sport requires a specific list of equipment. For example, the swim can be completed with a basic swimsuit, but you can also upgrade to a wetsuit or tri suit. Other essential swimming equipment includes goggles and a swim cap. Bikes can range from recreational road bikes, competition bikes or tri bikes. As a general rule, the best triathlon bikes are also the most expensive as you get a lightweight frame and high-end components. Running equipment remains very basic with a pair of quality running shoes.

Baseline Fitness

Before you start training for or competing in triathlons, you must have a minimum fitness level. The length of the triathlon will affect the fitness level. For example, a short sprint triathlon doesn’t require the fitness, endurance or strength that a full Ironman triathlon requires. A general rule of thumb is the ability to finish a 5K or 10K road race with a moderate to high level of fitness.

Training Schedule

The combination of three sports into an intense competition forces you to follow a specific training schedule. A training schedule not only prepares you for the triathlon, but also it improves your fitness level and increases your safety during the race. You need to dedicate training time for each sport, with at least two to three workouts per sport during every week. Stick with the training schedule as you start triathlons to prevent overtraining and injuries.

Extra Gear

After lining up your essential equipment for each sport, you can add extra gear according to your individual preferences or race. For example, longer triathlons may require supplements such as energy gels or sports drinks during the race. You may also want to use anti-chafe lotions or blister powder for a comfortable race. Other gear may include towels or personal items in the transition areas, which are the areas where you go from the swim to bike and the bike to run. Experiment with different gear options during training so you are familiar with the gear during the race.


What are some of your top questions regarding training for your first triathlon? Hiring a coach can help you navigate the questions surrounding gear, equipment, training, strategy and more.


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