The first steps into the sport Getting Started Triathlon

Having made the decision to train for triathlon, your first requirement will be to obtain the necessary equipment.


Although you probably feel confident at this point, you do not yet know whether and you will not know until you have competed in your first race. Consequently, it might not be wise to spend a great deal of money on triathlon equipment at this stage, only to find that it may later become redundant

The first piece of equipment you will need to consider buying is a bicycle, as you cannot compete in triathlon without one; but this will present you with your first dilemma. Do you spend a great deal of money on the best bicycle possible, money that might then be wasted if you decide not to continue with the sport, or do you buy a mid-priced bicycle that might have to be replaced anyway if you become competitive? Only you can make that decision, but it will probably depend upon your aspirations and the sort of success that you have been used to in other sports.

The ideal situation would be to have a racing bicycle as well as a training bicycle, but if you do this, then purchase the cheaper bicycle first (at least until you have competed in your first triathlon). If you then decide not to continue with the sport, you won’t have wasted your money on a racing bicycle. If two bicycles are too much for you, then consider purchasing a racing frame first but with cheaper components and general-entry wheels for training. You can then buy the more-expensive equipment later if you decide to continue in the sport.

It is also worth noting that there are three pedal-and-shoe  arrangements that the equipment section at the end of Chapter 4 for more information on this.

The following is a list of the minimum equipment you will need to complete your training programme. If you wish to buy more than this, or if you wish to

The three types of cycling pedal (from left to right): pedal and toe strap, platform and clip-less.

spend more on it than is necessary, then that is up to you, but the following should get you to the point where you can make an informed decision as to whether or not you are going to continue in the sport.

  • swimming costume or trunks
  • swimming goggles
  • bicycle
  • bicycle repair kit and air pump
  • bicycle safety helmet
  • running shoes that can also be used on the bike
  • jersey, vest or singlet, plus shorts and socks, both for cycling and for
  • running
  • sunglasses
  • either one 750ml water bottle or two 500ml bottles

The main point to note here is that, as your first competition will be a Sprint triathlon in which the swim segment is always held in a pool, you will not yet need to do any open-water swimming. Consequently, you will not require a wetsuit at this stage.

Also, most triathletes now wear one-piece tri suits instead of vest and shorts. They are quick-drying, can be worn under a wetsuit if you decide to progress to open-water-swim triathlon, and are specifically designed for both cycling and running. However, they are much more expensive than conventional clothing.

You will need to select your running shoes with care, as you will require a pair that supports your running gait, whether that be neutral, under pronation or overpronation (see A-Z Section).

There are other relatively inexpensive items that would be useful if you have some spare cash:

  • latex cap for pool and warm-water swimming;
  • cycling gloves for cold days;
  • running hat for sunny days;
  • food-and-water belt for long cycling and running sessions; and
  • spare inner tubes, plus bike tools, such as Allen keys