what do you need

Hi there,
I am a plodder (half marathons mainly 2hrs) did FLM last year, and starting to be seduced by the idea of a triathlon. can swim 1500 m in an hour, do london to brighton bike ride each year so have a bit of experience in the three disciplines.

need to know on the bike/swim side what kit i would need, how much it would cost roughly (as a novice wouldn't want to pay 1000's for a bike) and how much time it takes to train for one,

do you think i could get up to speed on it by the one in august?, are there training plans specifically for triathlons?

your advice would be gratefully received




  • With that background, you could easily be ready to do an Ironman much less any other triathlon distance by August. No need to spend a ton of money on kit. It sounds to me like you already have swim goggles and a road bike, so not much else to get. Fancy bikes are for ponces, so you don't want to get one of those anyways. :)

    There are a lot of books with triathlon training plans out there. Or you could try www.beginnertriathlete.com.

    You can also pop over to the IM 2007 training thread. A lot of people talk training and other stuff there, so its a well of advice.
  • Hi

    I did my first novice triathlon 3 years ago on my 20 year old racer at Stratford. All I had to invest in was a cheap tri-suit (£60 I think), googles (£5) and the basic kit for the bike of spare inner tube, punture repair kit and a spanner set. i hadn't ridden for about 10 years so really this expense was just buying stuff that you've already got as a cyclist. Oh yeah, helmet is compulsary. I've since bought a second hand road bike for £200. As UK-K has said, you don't need to spend a fortune to do triathlon. They are great fun. As a plodder myself I HIGHLY recommend you give it a try (sorry about the pun!) Get someone to explain the "transition" to you although they aren't as confusing as they first look.
    have a look at the link to see if it's of any use.


    Good luck!
  • I've picked up this question for this week's Reader to Reader... not least because I fancy giving a tri a go myself one day, but want to know how much kit-based palaver and expense is involved. Awaiting responses with interest!
  • AS said with your background id see nothing stopping you from doing a tri (Sprint of Olympic, tomorrow).

    As far as equipment is concerned the the key items you will need are


    Swimsuit (wetsuit if open water)


    Helmet £30+
    Something to cycle in


    Running kit.

    You can go further by investing in a tri-suit so you dont have to get changed for each discipline, prices from around £40?

    You can hire a wetsuit for a whole season from places like triandrun, approx £40-50

    You can use any bike providing its road worthy, even a mountain bike. Its up to you how much you spend if you choose to get a new bike but id suggest if there is the remotest liklihood of you doing more than one tri you buy something mid-range (about £500) like a Specialized Allex or Trek 1000. You could of course just buy a cheap racer from Halford for £200? but like all things you get what you pay for but with bikes the law of diminishing returns starts to kick in around £1000+ The key thing is that the bike fits properly and is comfortable.

    Other things you could think of getting are

    Tribars £40+
    Clipless pedals £30+ and bike shoes £40+ (clipless pedals & bike shoes and/or tribars are one of the most cost efficiant upgrades and I would recommend this after youve done one race or even before)
    Number belt £3+
    Bike computer £10+

    Other incidentals like spare tubes etc will cost another £20 or so.

    Why not enter Stratford Upon Avon or Windsor Tri, there are a lot of us from the forum doing these and we can give you advice and support there.

    Whatever you decide, good luck.

  • Chase, if you own google for a fiver, I'll go halves with you!

    Well, I am using a ten year old hybrid bike, probably a pair of shorts, a running vest, a cr4p Halfords helmet and a pair of Saucony Grid Omnis and a pair of goggles for my first this year at Stratford.

    I can't even change a wheel, so if I get a puncture, I'll push it back and get a bad time. If I liek the experience though, it might be worth getting some more kit.

    Oh, and a pirate buff, which is, of course, the only real essential.
  • There are of course lots of other gadgets and gizmo's you may be tempted to get, I should warn you triathlon is a shoppers dream. In the 3 years ive been doing it I must of spent near to £6000 on kit.

    Clothing for training tends to be one of the hidden costs as well as things like energy gels, race entries, travelling for training sessions etc.
  • a lot of the cost depends on how much of a tri-ponce you want to be.

    i resent spending £20 + for kit for training in, although after the abuse i got for spending the whole of last winter training in a pair of leggings from primark, i've just up-graded to a spandex shiny pair for £3.60 from accessorise, which make me look like a superhero. and give me powers. for some reason, my feet aren't particularly fussy about socks either, and therefore i got away with doing ironman germany in a pair of trainer liners again from primark.

    eat jelly instead of gels for the bulk of training, you can switch to gels for the last few rides if you want. and run to work with as big detours as necessary to make up the miles, so you don't need to travel to train all the time. being a grumpy recluse also helps with this, as you don't feel the need to meet up with other people to train.
  • (obviously i had shoes on as well, i wasn't just wearing trainer liners. that would just be silly.)
  • Transition is said to be a discipline in itself, you goal being to transfer from swim to bike or bike to run as quickly as possible. You can train for ages to knock 2 mins off your run time but with a little discipline and planning you can easily save this in transition

    Swim to bike..

    Goggles & swim cap off as you run to transition
    Wwetsuit off (if open water), this is a technique on its own, pull suit off shoulders, arms out, wrench down to thighs, pull one leg out then stand on empty wetsuit leg for leverage to pull other leg out.
    Helmet on, cycle glasses on (put glasses in helmet, helmet on handlebars upside down)
    Number belt on
    Bike shoes on
    Push bike to mount line and go...

    Bike to run

    Dismount at bike dismount line (can take feet out of shoes before hand if practised but wouldnt recommend for 1st few races)
    Rack bike
    Helmet off
    Shoes off
    Trainers on

    Before the race take points of reference so you can find your transition spot easily, ive waisted 2 mins looking for my bike on a couple of occasions (see note re saving time)

    For your 1st few races id concentrate on enjoying the experience and having fun and not to worry to much about times.
  • As I found the key to speedy transitions is having a plan and running through it as you finish your swim or bike. If no plan you just end up wasting time faffing about (as I still often do).
  • Barley, that has to be the most useful thing I have seen on here in ages.

    Do you have to wear a swim cap? Are they supplied?
  • Swim caps are always supplied, and you always have to wear one, theyre primarily for safety I guess but obviously useful for restraining flowing locks, keeping your head warm and being slightly more slipstreamed.

    Swim cap is usually given out at registration.
  • And, sorry to hijack, but have been wondering for a while, should I get a number belt?
  • yeah, it does make life easier. not sure i'd want to pin a number to my trisuit and then have a wetsuit over the top of it.

    put your numberbelt on and then your wetsuit over the top. of put it on when you come out of the swim. have it it flapping around on your back on the bike. dismount. turn it around for the run. you can also put gels in some of them. but i couldn't get my gels to fit the ironman number belts.
  • Yes deff get number belt, useful for just runs to as no saftey pins damage your running vest/top.

    You sometimes get them free in race goody bags
  • For me to go from being just a runner who occasionally cycled a bit, to doing The Longest Day ('ironman'), took:
    - wetsuit - donated, but can hire cheaply as Barlist said
    - swimming costume
    - goggles
    - silicone hat - wearing 2 keeps your head warmer. Put talcum powder inside these after each use, or they die quickly.
    - I already had an adequate bike (contrary to what everyone thought on the day, it is NOT a 'mountain bike') - but with flat handlebars & no cleats. This was not a problem for me but some may disagree!
    - Other people also seem to like cycle computers (£20-30 will get you a decent one, and if you buy it from a proper bike shop they will fit it if you ask).
    - For training purposes you may also want bike lights, in case you are stuck out after dark.
    - A bike repair kit, best kept in a seat wedge, and 2 spare tubes, & a lightweight frame pump (unless you muck around with CO2) are essential. Add to the bike stuff a packet of jelly beans or spare fuel of choice, ibuprofen, a bit of money, a 20p coin and maybe a mobile phone. If you can jam it in an ultralight windproof has been very useful for me.
    - If you don't have a helmet already, you should get one. Any BS kitemarked one will be adequate for crash protection, what you pay for is more holes & graphics (I now work in a bike shop, mostly on the strength of TLD). £20-£30 should get you a decent one with enough ventilation - much above £30 & you are paying for looks & gramme savings which could be better made elsewhere.
    - Extra bottle holders for bike - essential but cheap.
    - Bike top - this is the only bit of clothing I brought specifically for the event. These have 3 really big pockets on the back, for malt loaf & puncture kit.
    - Bike glasses - useful even in dim weather for eye protection. Again, more than £30 is spending on style above function.
    - Clothes wise the other things I wore were a standard running sports bra & lycra shorts (right through - including under wetsuit), & a club vest for the marathon, & 2 pairs of socks (dry ones for the run).
    - if you are already a runner you don't need any more kit for the run.

    I spent about £100 all told on everything except the entry, including things like swimming tickets & extra food (veggie jelly beans). I did scrape by on minimum kit & got a few things donated (thanks - you know who you are!), but it does not have to be a ferociously expensive sport if you don't want it to be, though it is very very easy to be persuaded into buying lots of things you don't need, or where a cheap version would do just as well.
  • Did someone mention pirate buffs? The essential tri kit, still available here.
  • oh, also essential is a cup of tea and almighty flap-jack or bacon sandwich from the 'friends of such-and-such club' table. it's very easy to take for granted all the organisation that goes into organising and marshalling events.
  • Also see the BIG Triathlon index (see list of BIG indexes on the left of this page)
  • thanks guys for all your replies

    i am def. going to give it a go.

    haven't got much spare time for research today but will have a good trawl through the site in the week you will be seeing me pop up on the tri threads with lots of stupid qustions next week, be kind to me !!

  • i am def. going to give it a go.

    We'll see you at Stratford in May then!
  • My one and only bit of advice would be to join a local Tri club if there is one near you. Loads of advise and help from other members, and most normally have good training sessions laid on. They will be able to explain what Brick training is - theres nothing worse than that feeling from bike to run when you are not expecting it or trainined for it!! Cost for doing a Tri can be as much or as little as you like. Try a sprint first and see how you get on.
  • Hi there

    I am also thinking about doing a tri this year and happened to be was looking on Amazon today and found a forthcoming book called either ...'Idiots Guide to Triathlons' or Triathlons for Dummies'. It's not out yet but you can pre-order. But can I find it again can I bug*er!
  • Found it... The Complete Idiot's Guide to Triathalon Training (Complete Idiot's Guides (Lifestyle Paperback))"
    Steve Katai; Paperback; �8.68

    You can already tell I will be well suited to this book!

  • My personal experience of joining a tri club was mixed though guess it depends which club you join.

    The Tri forum here is like a virtual club, we also have our own kit (see pic to the right of this post).

    Id hazzard a guess that there is more information, support and advice on the tri forum than youd get from any tri club or perhaps even a book.

    If you want to know anything then ask, doesnt matter if its a silly question like do you wear underwear under a tri suit or a technical question like what heartrate should I be doing my long rides at someone will be able to help.

    There are two races this year that many of us are doing as theyre specifically newbie friendly.

    The threads for these races are..

    Stratford Upon Avon Sprint Tri 13/5/07

    Windsor Olympic Tri 17/6/07

    If you want to enter you can meet up with us and we'll help you along and cheer you round the course.
  • My brother did a triathlon with no specialist kit. He changed the tyres on his mountain bike to racer type ones and that seemed to suffice. One observation he did make is that Bermuda shorts were no good for the swim - the weight of them after two lengths of the pool were nearly drowning him, so invest in a pair of speedos! He got major cramp near the end of the run and was last by a mile but still finshed with a smile on his face. I suppose the kit issue is a relative to your finishing ambitions are.
  • I'm afraid Windsor is now sold out but you can still enter Stratford. There's loads of us doing it so you'll have plenty of support.
  • Why not do the Big Woody Ironman Distance Race in September. There's plenty of time and many people have done an IM as their first Tri.
  • True Gumps, thats the spirit.


    Believe it or not you can actually get ready for and complete an Ironman with only a 6 month build up.
  • I'm new to triathlon - I did my first ( and only so far )sprint at Cockerham ( small offroad / open water ) in Lancashire and was hooked, went straight home and entered the big woody.

    I've probably spent more than most but then again I only had running gear.

    Got my Giant OCR2 bike ( less than 3 months old from Ebay )for £260, about half price

    Most of my other stuff has come from there as well :
    pirate gear ( non ebay and non essential probably - please don't make me walk the plank for saying that ).

    But again I think as with any sport you can spend as much or as little as you want - I mean with running not everyone has £100 Kayanos or a £150 gore jacket.

    Just go for it and hopefully you'll really enjoy it, and as Barlist says there is a multitude of friendly people on here willing to give advice - The Tri thread has been invaluable to me.
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