Your First Triathlon - 12 Essentials for Getting Started

Having the right gear can improve your first triathlon experience Having the right gear can improve your first triathlon experience

Get prepared for your first triathlon.

Get Started!

For athletes who have already signed up for their first triathlon or contemplating their first race, here is a list of essential items to help get you started:

  1. Swimsuit – One-piece lap swimsuits are ideal for women. Jammer-style suits are best for men. Swimsuits should be made of polyester or spandex. These types of suits can be purchased at a sporting goods store, specialty swim store or online. 
  2. Access to a Pool or Open Water – Future triathletes will need a place to practice swimming. Check local recreation centers or fitness centers for a pool. Athletes who are lucky enough to live near a lake or ocean should simply take a buddy to ensure safety.

Explore » Your First Triathlon ..6 Secrets for Success in the Swim!

Triathlete Swimming
Goggles - Consider clear and tinted pairs
  1. Goggles – Goggles are available in several different styles and lens colors. Try them on before buying them. Make sure they are comfortable and stay adhered to the face. Consider purchasing one pair with clear lenses for indoors and one pair with tinted lenses for outdoors.
  2. Bike – To get started, athletes do not need a fancy triathlon-style bike. Most beginners start with a mountain bike with slick, road tires or a road bike.  Be sure to get a professional fit for comfort and avoiding injury.
  3. Helmet – Helmets are a must!  They come in different styles, sizes and colors. Try on several helmets before making a purchase. A helmet should be adjusted so it fits tightly on the head for maximum protection.
  4. Repair Kit (CO2 Cartridge, Inflator, Levers, Tube, ID) – Know how to change a flat and never head out on a bike ride without a repair kit. Most bike stores are happy to help athletes choose a kit and demonstrate how to use the tools.
  5. Floor Pump – Since tires lose air during use, be sure to inflate tires before each ride.
  6. Water Bottle and Fluid – Staying hydrated during workouts is very important! When athletes sweat, electrolytes, especially sodium, are lost and need to be replaced. Plan to drink 20 – 24 ounces of water mixed with sodium and carbohydrates (ex. sugar) per hour of exercise.
  7. Sunglasses – Sunglasses not only keep the sun deflected from eyes during biking and running, they also protect eyes from objects outside that could irritate or scratch the eye. Sunglasses should be lightweight and comfortable.
Triathletes crossing finish line
Visit a specialty running store for a good fitting
  1. Running Shoes – Visit a specialty running store to get fitted for shoes. Store employees are trained to fit athletes based on foot structure and running stride. Save these shoes for running and plan to replace shoes after running approximately 500 miles.
  2. Sports Bra for Women – Sports bras are made of breathable material that keeps sweat away from the body. Be sure to try on several bras to make sure it is comfortable and supportive.
  3. Gear Bag – Finally, a nice, big bag is necessary to hold all these triathlon essentials!

These 12 items will help athletes get started, however it is not necessary to have them all right away. What is important is to register for your first race and start training!

Happy Training and Racing!

Explore » Your First Triathlon ..6 Secrets for Success in the Swim!

Mari Fridenmaker

Mari Fridenmaker is a USA Triathlon Level I Certified Coach in Atlanta, Georgia.  She is the President and Head Coach of Blue Iron Coaching, LLC.  She has been active in the sport of triathlon since 2003 and has been coaching athletes of all levels since 2007.  Her services include Team Coaching, Personalized Coaching, Private Swim Lessons and Individual Consultation.  For more information, please visit her website,  She can be reached at or 404.667.0817.