Friday, April 8, 2011

What to Wear in Triathlon

Meg over at Triathlete in Training has her very first sprint tri coming up and asked me to do a blog post about what to wear in a tri.

I did my first triathlons last year, and between my introduction to the sport and my boyfriend's training for a 70.3, we spent a lot of time on tri websites, in tri stores, etc., researching, examing, trying on and talking to seasoned triathletes.

Sample Tri Suit
The first thing I discovered is that true tri clothing is ridiculously expensive.  Like a pair of shorts is my total clothing budget for the month.  I work for a nonprofit, so I'm not exactly rolling in dough, and even though I know this stuff lasts for a long time, that's a lot to shell out at once, especially when you are also starting to get things like shoes and pedals and all the random gear that goes along with being a triathlete.  We athletes do love our gear, don't we?

Anywho, what I learned was that there are a few different options for those of us of the female persuasion.  You can go with a tri top (usually a tank top, sleeveless or raceback) or a bikini-type tri top.  For bottoms, there are tri shorts of different lengths (I've found I prefer the shorter ones) that have a thinner chamois than a standard cycling chamois, plus you can swim and run in them, and they dry quickly.  They also make bikini-style tri bottoms.  Or, if you're more of a one piece person, you can get a tri suit, which are definitely pricier, but rival the comfort of a cycling bib and you're not fussing with anything riding up or down.

I also learned this stuff runs small.  I usually wear a small, and I'm more of a medium in tri clothing.  All the manufacturers are a little different.  If there is a tri store near you where you can try on a couple different brands, it's worth the time to figure fits best, and what feels best.

This is clearly not me.  Just the shorts I got.

So, after researching, I decided my best option would be to find something on clearance.  Since most tri companies put out a new line every year, with slightly different styling, they clearance the previous year's merchandise.  It takes a little more work than buying straight off the shelf (thank god for the internet) but you can usually, eventually, find a matching kit for half to 2/3s the price of it new.  I really like All3SportsTriathlon LabTriSports and really if you just google, there are a lot out there.  

As a side note - don't wear anything underneath this stuff and use bodyglide where applicable.

Ultimately, I'm glad I made the investment in tri clothes.  I knew I would be doing a few - I wanted to make sure I was comfortable, wearing something that would dry quickly and help keep me cool, and while it might sound silly, I wanted to look the part.  I knew I would feel uncomfortable the whole time if I looked like it was my first time (or second, or third...).  Plus, spending the money on the clothes was somewhat of a commitment to the sport for me.

What is your favorite thing to wear when you're racing?

Next up - accessories.  


  1. I dont like tri suits, I like seperate tops and bottoms, that me personally, some people love trisuits. You have to really take care of your gear for it to last a long time, if you dont, you will go through shorts everyseason. If she is looking for a cheaper option, I suggest her swim suit and trishorts and wait on a tri top.

  2. If I did my bathing suit and trishorts, would that be comfortable for the bike and run too? Or would I change something along the way? I like that option just because I'm actively losing weight because of the training and I don't want to invest too much into gear just to not be able to use it next summer!

  3. I'm w/ BDD. Those one piece tri suits are not for me either.

    So glad that racing season is upon us!!! I've got a race on the schedule for next week. EXCITED...

  4. Thank you for this post!!! I have to start looking at gear, and I'm completely clueless. I don't want to get a full tri suit, especially since my race is in August. Nice to know there are options.