• What do you really need?

    stroke analysisWith three sports to train for, the amount of kit that is on offer can be overwhelming.  If you have just entered a sprint or standard triathlon and you are thinking of getting started what do you really need?


    You will need the following:

    • Swim goggles

    One of the most important things to get is a pair of well fitting goggles.  The fit is the key issue here.  Getting water into your goggles when you are in the middle of a race is just terrible – you don’t want to have to stop to empty water out of your goggles if you can help it.  This is just as annoying when you are training.  Goggles come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and you’re looking for a pair that give you a complete seal around your eye socket without you having to have the strap so tight that you look like you have just come out of the pool for hours after a session!  In fact a good test of fit is to see if the goggles will stay on without the strap around your head.  The key message here is to try on as many as possible before you buy, and you may find that you go through 2 or 3 pairs before you find the right ones for you.

    Also, goggles can come with different coloured lenses in them for use in different light conditions e.g. dark goggles are useful for very bright days.  If you are just going to have one pair then it’s probably best to opt for a clear or blue lens as these will be useful in most conditions and for pool swimming.

    • Swim kit

    Female athletes will find a one piece suit makes much more sense and male athletes should take the plunge and move away from those baggy board shorts.  Baggy shorts add extra resistance when you are swimming – in fact they are sometimes used as a strength development tool because they make it much more difficult to swim – you don’t need that right now so choose some speedos or similar.

    • Swim cap

    You will need a swim cap if you have long hair to keep the hair out of your eyes.

    What else could you need:

    There are a number of tools that swimmers use as they train to develop technique and strength and these include pull buoys that go between your legs to stop you using your legs so that you have to work harder at the front of your stroke and kick boards which you are probably familiar with.   These are the most useful accessories and certainly in our training programs you will need them.  Most of these will be available at your local pool so you might not even have to buy them and the advantage of using the pools equipment is that you don’t have to carry it all around with you.

    Finally – if you are taking part in an open water triathlon in the UK you will need a full length wetsuit.

    If you are in your first season of triathlon then it makes a lot of sense to hire your wetsuit rather than buy it. There are a number of companies that allow you to hire for a season and then return.


    You will need the following:

    • A roadworthy bike

    You can do a triathlon on a road bike, mountain bike or hybrid bike as long as it is roadworthy – loads of people do their first triathlon on a mountain bike. Obviously a road bike is going to be faster so it depends on what your objectives are – do you want to complete or are you going for the win? Similarly you will all probably know that you can get cycling shoes that lock into your pedals using what is called cleats on the bottom of the shoes. We do this so that we can pedal more efficiently – you can get more out of each pedal stroke by pulling up as well as pushing down on a stroke. However they do take some getting used to and if you are at all worried then it is perfectly acceptable to use flat pedals and trainers. Another important point here is that your bike should fit you – if it doesn’t then either you are going to be uncomfortable and not want to train or you could cause yourself an injury. Your local bike shop should be able to help here and give you good advice.

    Your bike should have at least one bottle cage if you are doing a sprint triathlon however two bottle cages are better as it means that you can do longer training rides without having to refill.

    • Cycling helmet

    The next must have item is your cycling helmet.  You should always wear a helmet when you are cycling and you absolutely have to when you are taking part in an event. And quite often the marshals will check your helmet to make sure it is in good condition as you go into transition and also check to see that it fits you well.

    • Clothing

    The key clothing item is a good pair of cycling shorts for training.  Cycle shorts have large soft pads inside them and they have them for a reason!  Being comfortable on your bike is paramount.

    You will also need cycling shoes or trainers as we mentioned and warm and weather proof clothing.  As with other items the cycling specific clothing does the best job because it is designed for the purpose but you could get by with generic cports clothing, if necessary, apart from the cycling shorts.

    What else could you need:

    • A turbo trainer?

    Historically we have had some shocking winters and it has been very difficult for anyone to get out, so you should be aware that your training can also be done on a gym or spin bike or on a turbo trainer.

    A turbo trainer or a turbo allows you to ride on your own bike indoors. Your bike is held against a rolling resistance by the back wheel and you can just pedal away watching the television or listening to music and certainly staying safe and dry.  Turbos are great for improving skill and also for high intensity sessions because you don’t have to worry about traffic or junctions. A turbo session is a very time efficient way to train – although it is not all you have to do – you do have to get out on your bike!

    Turbo trainers range from simple affordable options right up to very sophisticated set ups that monitor power and allow you to train in virtual races. There are some very clever options out there, entirely dependant upon your own budget.


    You will need the following:

    •  A good pair of running shows

    The key item is of course your trainers.  It is really important that you get the right shoe for you and your running style.  If you haven’t been running since school and are tempted to run in the trainers that you have found lurking in the back of the cupboard then you definitely need to think again!  It is a sure fire way to get injured.  Go to a good running shop, most will have a treadmill and experienced staff that can look at your running gait and advise you on the best shoe for you.

    •  Clothing

    In the same manner as for the bike, you will want to be comfortable, warm and dry, as far as possible when you are out running so if you are able it is certainly worthwhile getting some specific running kit.  Once again you don’t have to, it’s entirely feasible to run in a normal t-shirt and shorts.

    If you do run at night it is a really good idea to have a high visibility vest on.  You just pull these over your head over the top of your run clothing and you can get them in most sports shops.