Triathlon - what to wear (female)


I'm going to do a few triathlons this summer. I am mainly going to be doing the swim inside (a part from 1 for which I shall hire a wet suite). I'm trying to figure out what to wear. I don't want to wear a swimming costume on the bike / run as I'm a bit body conscious. I'm certainly not over-weight, but I wouldn't feel confident whilst cycling and running in my swimming costume. I'm thinking about lycra shorts with a short top - it's mainly a 'bottom' thing, and a case of 'does my bum look big in this' syndrome.

My problem is, that I can't exactly try
an outfit on, swim, cycle, run in it and return it if it's no good - I'm worried that either the top may come down whilst diving for the swim, or the shorts working there way down and stopping me from swimming to my best ability. What should I be looking for? Do you normally buy 1-size smaller? Are there any rules about clothing? What is the best material to go for? Do you need padding for the cycling part? Is there a really good web-site to buy an outfit from? What make do you wear and is it good quality? Any tips would be great.



  • ET...
    look at tri stores for specific tri kit... they are either all in ones quick drying lycra or shorts and tops combo's... neither are partic loose enough to come off while swimming... and the 'downstairs' bit has an insert... Very helpful for the following bike leg after the swim!

    and yes... rules... no nudity allowed!!
  • ET, as MM says get a "tri suit". Tri stores will stock quite a few but Ihave one from "De Soto" which is a US brand and I had to just order by email/phone, you could Google the brand to get the details. But any will be fine, that one is just really good quality.

    Of course your next problem (if you are anything like me - ie normal shaped!) will be that the people who make these things don't seem to put enough support in for your boobs. consequently, I have to wear a sports bra underneath and then the suit - experiment which which bra rubs the least when wet/dries out the quickest/is msot supportive when wet. This is a pain but none of the suits I've seen have a sufficient inbuilt bra bit.

    Good luck!
  • ET,
    I went to triandrun in Hainult to get my tri suit. They suggested I get a two piece by Sugoi. The bottom half is a black pair of shorts, that cover the tops of my thighs and the top has enough material to cover a sports bra.

    Good luck finding something
  • I hadn't actually thought about what to wear. lol


    better get that last stone off before June, then...
  • Hi ET - As the others have suggested, I believe a tri-suit is the best clothing for the job, as it is designed for triathlons.

    That said, they are quite expensive, and you may not want to invest until you are sure you are going to stick with the sport. I have been doing sprint tris for 2 years now, and have only just invested in mine, (at sale prices at the exhibition in Sandown Park yesterday).

    Other cheaper options for your first couple of races are to quickly pull a pair of shorts on after your swim. Anything that you're comfortable in for bike & run will do. On the top half, you can either pull a t-shirt or vest on with a race numbers attached over your swim-suit, or just put on a number belt. (N.B.: If the former, it helps to roll up the top with the number on, so you can easily put it on without ripping the numbers when you're wet & hurrying).

    As with a tri-suit though, remember to wear a sports bra under your swimsuit, as like most women, I expect you'll want more support than a swimsuit will offer for the run.

  • LizzyBLizzyB ✭✭✭
    I've found that the bra part of the Speedo Endurance swimsuit range is pretty supportive... but I'm not exactly well-endowed, so what do I know...

  • My Endurance cossies don't have any bra part..?
  • LizzyBLizzyB ✭✭✭
    They work on the 'squash you flat and pin you down' principle. Fine if you're a AA, less fine if you're anywhere approaching 'normal'.
  • Hum, maybe you get a different range over there, here the Endurance swim suits are most definitely just a swim suit, no extra bra panel or thicker material there or anything..
  • Which is why I have a high-necked one.


    Not that it's got wet yet, or anything...
  • I bought a tri costume, but felt really uncomfortable on the bike (half moon most of the time, especially going up hill!) so decided NEVER to wear it again!

    I've also tried normal 2 piece with lycra shorts and a top. Although ok for the swim the lack of padding in the shorts made for a painful bike!

    Now I've invested in a tri suit and hope this to is the business!

    I'm ok top wise as long as it's pretty tight to squash me in.
  • I went through this last year and found there just isn't any really good advice available for the ladies - especially those (like me) who don't feel comfortable running in their skimpies.

    What I did was buy an Orca two piece - quick drying swimming/cycling/running shorts which are fabulous, and a matching, racer back, sport bra looking, top.

    Unfortunately, although it all looked great together, the top wasn't supportive enough - even though I am by no means well endowed - so I bought a plain black sports bra/top (made by moving comfort) which was pretty wicking - so dried pretty quickly after the swim, and definately by the end of the cycle, and was plenty supportive enough for running - infact I now wear it as my favourite running bra!

    Just to cap it all though, I decided that I didn't want to race in just my shorts and bra (paranoid about the amount of flesh squeezing out of the top of my shorts - mmm) so I slung a t-shirt on after the swim to cover my modesty.

  • Hi ET

    I'm still not convinced about the Trisuit although the new range of Sugoi looks interesting - legs not too long and NO gripper thingy to cut your thighs in two.

    I'm defo with you on the bare bum (swimsuit) scenario which even for the best looking birds is a little on the unflattering side!

    Speaking as a reasonably well-endowed lass ;-)) I need more support than most suits etc. can offer so my compromise last year was Tri-specific shorts (v. light but with some padding) plus a very tight (one size too small) tankini top (cheap one from Tchibo!!). This did nicely for the swim and bike and covers up the mid-riff (touch sensitive about this bit!)

    For the run, I pulled on (feet up, as its esier) another tightish running top - Champion I think - and this helped control the wobbly bits!

    All in all a cheap option for my first year. But I can see money being spent on a one piece suit sometime this year.

    If you can cope with the possible hassle, Bourne Sports are selling off Speedo tri-suits at £20. If you don't like the fit (I didn't) you can send it back.

    Whatever you choose - enjoy the Tri season!!
  • I do wear a tri suit for sprint races, good for swimming in and it dries out quickly. For longer races, it doesn't give me enough support up top (I'm 38C). I've found that wearing a good, fairly tight tri swimsuit with a bike pad insert solves that problem nicely. I wear lightweight lycra cycle length shorts under my swim suit to save time after the swim and also to keep my speed-skater thighs from rubbing. Works pretty well for me...but ET, it all comes done to what you yourself feel comfortable in.
  • Thanks for all the comments. I've sent off for a few catologues. I'm definately going to purchase separates. Dr. Nic, I really, really like the De Soto range, I should imagine that is what I'll end up with.
    I'll check out the other brands and see how they all compare.
    'Tri to Run' - I didn't even think about a number belt - thanks, I can get that at the same time.
  • and I can't live without my elastic "lock laces" - knocks seconds of transition times.
  • IW-that's a good idea of putting shorts under tri swim costume. I'll remember that next time so I'm not revealing all to the world.

    The good thing about these forums is you're always learning something new to try!:o)
  • Yep, elastic laces and number belts save a lot of time and faffing!
  • I've just realised it's a de soto trisuit I bought on Saturday, (the label says DSS, and I hadn't put two & two together). Obviously not used it yet, but really pleased with the flattering fit when I tried it on, and just how well it manages to conceal my unsightly flabby bits...

  • Tri to Run did you purchase your normal UK ladies size? - (if that's the size measurements they use), or did you go one size smaller?
    I'm not sure what size to purchase. To my clubs amusement, the last time I bought a swimming costume, it came down at the front when I dived in the pool (I'm only small, so I'm surprised they even noticed)...I don't want to go there again.
  • Hi ET,

    The sizes are just s/m/l, and are obviously geared around some very skinny triathletes. I had to buy a large, and I don't consider myself that huge, (my "normal" size yoyos between 12 & 14 depending on diet, exercise, time of the month, cut of clothes, etc). I did try a medium, but couldn't get it over my hips, so gave up trying to pretend.

    I hope that helps, Jane

  • I think its a bit like any clothes - the size on the label is something they make up when they stitch it in!

    Orca is quite generous - I would buy their size 10 and vary between 10 and 12 depending on cut for trousers but am a definite 12 for the upper bits!
  • At risk of hi-jacking the thread..........

    I'd appreciate thoughts on socks.
    Do you or don't you?
  • Always on training runs, but never during a race. It would just take too long to faff getting them on over wet feet, and I figure any blisters I get will heal in the day or two of rest after the race anyway.

  • you use talc in your bike shoes? Does it get lumpy like bad custard?
  • Petal - no to socks for races (tris anyway)

    I have some NB shoes that are v light (tri specific) and pull on (elastic laces and loop at the back for pulling them on) so it would be a shame to waste time with socks. I stand on a towel in T1 which gets some of the wet off then just pull the shoes on. No talc, though I do put bodyglide on my toes and heels at the start of the race (no socks with bike shoes either)
  • Petal - yes I have used talc in both cycle shoes & trainers, but not very much. Not noticed it getting particularly lumpy, but then again in some races, (Trentham Gardens last year springs to mind), mud, twigs, leaves etc are going to be far more noticeable than any amounts of talc, no matter how well you wipe your feet after the swim.
  • I don't wear socks for normal races but for long course I have to or I blister. Also, I have a neuroma under my right foot, the best way to deal with it is to pad it with cotton wool. Obviously I can't do that during the swim - so I tape a cotton ball on the outside of my sock under the bad toes, then pull the socks on before slipping me feet into the bike shoes.
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