We have included some links to gear that are our favorites. That said, nothing beats trying things on before you buy, so we encourage you to head to your local running/cycling/tri shop and try on everything from goggles to bike shorts.
PHYSICAL PREREQS Sprint + Olympic Distance: Can swim 100 yards (four lengths or two laps) without hanging on the wall or touching the bottom of the pool. It doesn’t have to be pretty, and you don’t have to have your head in the water the whole time.
Ideally, you complete a Sprint Tri before an Olympic Tri, but that’s the best-case scenario. Half-Ironman + Ironman Distance: Can swim 500 yards without hanging on the wall or touching the bottom of the pool. It doesn’t have to be pretty, and you don’t have to have your head in the water the whole time.
Ideally, you complete a Half Ironman before an Ironman, but that’s the best-case scenario.
MANDATORY GEAR —Goggles: Be sure they suction tightly to minimize leakage
—Swim cap: Silicone caps are more durable and easier to get on and off than latex.
—Pull buoy: Builds upper body + core strength
—25-yard or -meter pool
—Fins: Build efficiency in water and lower body strength
—Kickboard: Builds lower body strength
—Wetsuit: If your swim will be in cold water and/or you want extra buoyancy; you can rent a wetsuit locally or on the web. Finally, be sure you are allowed to wear a wetsuit in the race.
—Open water to practice
PHYSICAL PREREQS All Distances: None, with the exception of being able to ride a bike and being injury-free. The Half-Ironman + Ironman programs start with a 45-minute ride in Week 1, so being able to knock that out is recommended.
MANDATORY GEAR —Bicycle: For your first tri, any bike that fits you is perfect. It can be a commuter bike, a mountain bike with slick (skinnier) tires, or a road bike. Fit is key, though: If you are uncomfortable, get fitted in a local shop.
—ANSI-approved cycling-specific helmet; there is a sticker inside the helmet indicating it’s ANSI-approved. (Ski + skating helmets don’t work, neither do helmets manufactured before 1986.)
—Spare inner tubes: Be sure to get the right size + style for your tire
—2 C02 cartridges: The easiest way to reinflate a flat tire
—Co2 pump: Makes the easiest way even easier
—2 tire levers: Because you still need to change it yourself
—Small pack for carrying previous 4 items
—Knowledge of how to change a flat (we’ll teach you!)
—Cycling shorts (padded)
—1 to 2 water bottle cages mounted on bike
—1 to 2 reusable water bottles (20-24 oz)
—Relatively safe routes on which to train
OPTIONAL GEAR —Clipless pedals
—Cycling specific shoes
—Cycling computer that displays cadence, time, speed
—Chamois cream: Makes the bike seat a little more comfy
—Indoor trainer to train at home
—Spinning classes to train at the gym
PHYSICAL PREREQS All Distances: None, although being injury-free is ideal. Both the Half-Ironman + Ironman program start with a 45-50-minute run in Week 1, so being able to run for that duration is helpful.