What to Wear for Your First Triathlon


One of the biggest questions new triathletes ask is “what do I wear for my first triathlon?”  While this is a little more complicated for a female, it’s really not as complicated as you think.  You have many options, but be aware that there are no tents or rooms to change in during your transition and nudity is not allowed.

Let’s start with the swim. Your basic swimsuit will do just fine. I don’t mean big, baggy swim trunks you’d take on vacation or a bikini you would lounge by the pool in; this should be a swimsuit designed for swimming laps.  Women who are a little more gifted up top may want to put a sports bra on underneath the suit.  If your race is wetsuit legal, the wetsuit goes on over the swim suit.

You can opt to do your entire race in that suit.  In many races, however, men are not allowed to bike and run with a bare torso, so a shirt needs to be added.  Many women will opt to also put on a shirt for vanity reasons and even pull on a pair of shorts to prevent chafing from the bike seat.  You can pull on running shorts or bike shorts, but remember, you will have just come out of the swim and run to your transition area.  You will be wet and winded.  Putting on tight clothes can be a challenge in that situation.

If you have a little more money to invest, it’s wise to invest in a “tri kit.”  A tri kit consists of a top and bottom that you can do your entire race in without having to add any clothes.  Let’s start with the top.  A tri top is sleeveless, has a pocket or two in back and can be with or without a zipper in the front.  As you progress to longer distances of triathlon, the pockets in back come in very handy.  The tri top should fit snugly as to not cause any drag during your swim.  If you have any wrinkles of fabric when you put your tri top on, try a smaller size.

The shorts of a tri kit are “tri shorts.” There is a considerable difference in bike shorts and tri shorts when it comes to the thickness of the padding.  It is not recommended to do a triathlon in bike shorts because once that padding becomes wet during the swim, it will become heavy and most likely cause chafing.  Tri shorts, on the other hand, do offer padding, but in a much smaller thickness.  This allows you to swim, bike and run in the same pair of shorts for the entire race.

The best-case scenario is that you do not have to put on any clothing in transition.  Transition time is like “free” time, so use every second of it to your advantage.  The less you have to do in switching from swim to bike or bike to run, the more smoothly your transitions will be so you can focus on the rest of the race.

If you have more questions about what to wear for your triathlon or training in general, please feel free to contact me.

Train Right, Tri Right!

Coach MJ


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