I ask myself this question all the time: “What do I wear?”

This may be for going for a run, heading out to dinner with some friends, a photo shoot, going out with the hubby, etc.

I also get asked the same question: “What do I wear for my triathlon?”

My answer is, “It is up to you and what you feel comfortable racing in.”  Then I ask, “What distance triathlon are you doing?”

Here are some tips for athletes. Once again, it is all based on your comfort.

Sprint Distance Triathlon:

  • Swimsuit (one piece or two piece) or a One Piece Triathlon Suit, or just cycling shorts for guys.
  • Race is short, so you really don’t need to spend a lot of time in transition. Your transitions should be fast and easy to get through, and less than one minute each.
  • If you don’t feel comfortable wearing a swim suit out on the bike and run, throw a tank top and a pair of shorts over your suit. Just be mindful about shorts and being wet; you may chafe a bit.
  • No changing tents for a sprint; no reason to.

Olympic Distance Triathlon:

  • One Piece Triathlon Suit that has a little pad in it, or a triathlon top with a pocket in the back and shorts that have a little bit of pad for a longer bike.
  • This bike is a bit longer; you may want a little bit of pad on the bum. BUT you don’t want to wear cycling shorts. WHY? If you swim in them, it will feel that you have a WET DIAPER when biking, and especially running.
  • Transition may be a little bit longer; depends on how far the swim is to the bike out. Goal would be to be under 90 seconds on each transition.
  • A triathlon top with a pocket in the back for the gels that you may need on the run. This is a little bit longer race, so after 90 minutes of racing you may need to start taking in some calories (That will be another blog!)
  • No changing tents for the Olympic.

70.3 Ironman Triathlon:

  • One Piece Triathlon Suit that has a pad and a pocket in the back for nutrition, or a triathlon top with a pocket and shorts that have a little pad for the longer bike.
  • I personally like a two piece suit. If I have to go to the bathroom, I would rather have to take just the bottoms off versus a whole one piece top off.
  • Transitions should take no longer than 2-3 minutes on a Half Ironman. You don’t need to change out of your clothes. Put your shoes on, put your helmet on, put glasses on for T1 and for T2, switch shoes, keep glasses on, grab your nutrition, and take your helmet off and put on a hat/visor.
  • No changing tents for 70.3 Ironman.

Ironman Triathlon: 

  • If it is your first Ironman or your 5th, I tell EVERYONE to be comfortable in what you are wearing. It is a LONG day!!!
  • There are changing tents for Ironman!!!
  • For the swim, wear a swim suit or your triathlon top plus your wetsuit.
  • For the bike, keep your top on but put on cycling shorts if you feel the need to have a thicker pad. It is 112 miles, right? Be COMFORTABLE!!!
  • For the Run, wear the same top but change into running shorts. In my experience, that was the most comfortable I have been on a run after being in tight bottoms for 8 hours!
  • If you are trying to qualify for Ironman Hawaii, wear the same clothes and don’t worry about switching out. You want fast transitions.
  • Once again, I am all about being comfortable in an Ironman.

While these are my thoughts and opinions, you as an athlete need to see what is best for you and your race. My suggestion is to try these out in the practice before you wear them in the race. Don’t try ANYTHING new in a race. You don’t know how it is going to feel, if you are going to chafe, if it is comfortable, etc.

Some brands to look at:

Remember, enjoy your journey into your triathlon. We do this because we enjoy it. All you need to do is smile!!!

AUTHOR: Jen Rulon

I’m Jen Rulon, A Triathlon Coach And A Public Speaker. I’ve been coaching USA Triathlon Level 1 for 16+ years and I’ve received my Masters in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Exercise Science. I train triathletes to reach their potential and coach triathlete coaches to successfully grow their businesses using my own proven methods. My knowledge has been featured in Triathlete Magazine, Runners World, on the TEDx Stage, the Health and Wellness Expo in San Antonio, TX, Men’s Journal Online, and the New York Times. I also practice what I preach — I’m a 14x Ironman Triathlete who participated in the World Championship in Kona, Hawaii on October 14, 2017.

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