The only Equipment you Really Need for your First Triathlon

There is no doubt that triathlon is a fast growing sport. From professional athletes like Alan Webb (American record holder for the mile) making his triathlon debut in 2014 to Hines Ward (former NFL wide receiver) competing in the Ironman World Championship in 2013 – many athletes are looking to triathlon as they continue their athletic endeavors.

Whether it’s to increase the intensity of your fitness regime or decrease your overall run load due to injury (or boredom!), triathlon is a great way to add variety to your workouts. You know the aspects of triathlon, now it’s time to talk about the basic equipment you’ll need to get started.


We swam as kids, advancing our way up from a tadpole to a shark – but most likely, haven’t swum much as adults. Although it can be intimidating to get start swimming again, thankfully, the equipment you’ll need is pretty straight forward.

  • Swim Suit: If you don’t own a suit, or the one you own is a little worn any basic suit will do the trick.
  • Goggles: You may want to purchase two pairs, one clear (for indoors) and one with a tint (for outdoor swimming). If you only go with one pair, buy the pair with a slight tint.
  • Swim Cap: You’ll always wear a cap during a race – so it’s best to get used to wearing one in training too.


The equipment you’ll need to get started on the bike is pretty basic, but this is where you’ll spend a little more money than the other two sports. If you become hooked, you can end up throwing down a huge chunk of change. I’ve added to my bike equipment each year and after 10 years in the sport – my bike is now worth more than my first (and second) cars were! But, we’ll stick to the basics for now.

  • Bike: A basic road, mountain or hybrid bike will work for your first triathlon. Whether you borrow, buy used or buy new – make sure you find it’s the proper fit for your size. If it’s borrowed or used, a tune-up at the local bike shop is a must.
  • Helmet: Buy from a bike shop (as opposed to a big box store); they’ll carry the brands that are safety certified. And, never, ever ride without a helmet. Ever.
  • Pump: The key to avoiding flats is ensuring your tires are properly inflated, which mean pumping before each ride – so it goes without saying you’ll want your own pump.
  • Bike Shorts: Ride wearing shorts with padding – you’ll thank me. Take a look at triathlon shorts too, which have just a little less padding so you can run in them too!
  • Bike Computer (optional): A basic bike computer will display time and distance traveled, if it’s got cadence monitoring, even better.


You’ve likely already accumulated the equipment you need for the run, but there may be a few things you may want to consider specifically for triathlon.

  • Shoes: The shoes you currently run in will do the job. I like to put elastic laces (like Yankz) in my shoes to skip the shoe tying on race day. Nothing new on race day, so if you want to use elastic laces, use them during training.
  • Race Belt: During the race, you can pin your number to your shirt, or you can choose to throw on a race belt after you hop off the bike.

You may not have the professional athlete budget of Alan Webb or Hines Ward – but you can get started in the sport of triathlon for little more than you might spend on a new pair of shoes (assuming you borrow that bike!).

What questions do you have about completing your first triathlon? Leave them in the comments below.


Jennifer has been running for over 15 years. While she loves to run – her true passion is triathlon. She'll be racing with TEAM SOAS as a brand ambassador during the 2014 and 2015 triathlon season.

Jennifer likes to swim, bike and run in the city of Minneapolis where she lives with her husband and dog, Ruby. Her favorite running (and swimming) route is around Lake Nokomis, where you'll often spot her with her four-legged running partner.

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