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  1. #1
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    Beginner Triathlon Equipment Questions

    Okay, so I'm only sort-of a beginner. I did my first sprint triathlon last June and really loved it although I didn't do much in the way of training. This summer, I'd like to actually train and do an olympic-length triathlon in November.

    Last June the water was reasonably warm, but the triathlon I'd like to do in November is in the San Francisco Bay (and quite chilly - 60-62F). I'd like to buy a wetsuit to start but have no idea what I should be looking at in terms of thickness, etc. Any advice or any place I might be able to find reviews?

    I now have a road bike which I bought used after riding my mountain bike in the previous triathlon. Should I be looking at aero bars or are they overrated for the lower distance events?

    Finally, should I be looking at some kind of triathlon suit? Last time I didn't even know there were specific triathlon suits until I saw people wearing them. I wore completely inappropriate clothes - for some reason I thought it would be cold and wore long sleeves which killed me.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I'm starting to pull together an initial training schedule just to get me into shape for now, but will probably start doing events in June at the latest (just sprints to start). If you have any advice for people who can't run whatsoever, that would also be helpful

    Thanks again!

  2. #2
    On Your Right ZackJones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tri-berkeley
    Last June the water was reasonably warm, but the triathlon I'd like to do in November is in the San Francisco Bay (and quite chilly - 60-62F). I'd like to buy a wetsuit to start but have no idea what I should be looking at in terms of thickness, etc. Any advice or any place I might be able to find reviews?
    Consider renting one, if possible. If you only plan to do the one race late in the season I would rent a wetsuit if at all possible.


    Quote Originally Posted by tri-berleley
    I now have a road bike which I bought used after riding my mountain bike in the previous triathlon. Should I be looking at aero bars or are they overrated for the lower distance events?
    I would add a set of bars as my first modification I made to the bike in preparation for the triathlon. Also, spend lots of time riding in the aero position. It will feel odd at first but before long you'll be able to ride and reach down for your water bottle while in the aero tuck. If you have access to a wind trainer I would recommend some some sessions on it with the bars before heading out on the road.


    Quote Originally Posted by tri-berleley
    Finally, should I be looking at some kind of triathlon suit?
    Sure, why not If you can wear the one suit for all 3 events that's one less thing to have to worry about during the race.


    Quote Originally Posted by tri-berleley
    If you have any advice for people who can't run whatsoever, that would also be helpful
    Yesterday I read a very interesting article on running and walking as a way to train. Basically you combine running for a few minutes and then walking for a minute during the workout. After warming up you'd run for 2 minutes and then walk for 1 minute. As you progress extend the running portion and keep your walking session to 1 minute. According to the article, which I found on Runner's World web site, folks use this strategy to complete sub 4 hour marathons so there must be something to it . If you, or anyone else, would like the link let me know and I'll see if I can find it again.

  3. #3
    Body by Guinness cjbruin's Avatar
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    Ultimately, the wetsuit you choose should come down to fit so it's probably best to find a tri-shop somewhere near you and try some on. Some of the online companies do a pretty good job of recommending suits...for instance, I believe one of them told me that the Ironman brand suits are better for larger frames and Quintana Roo usually fits the skinny guys. Check out the vendors' websites...there are so many options available.
    If you want to go down the rental route (I wouldn't), check out http://www.totaltri.com/rental.html I think it's about $75 per race.

    Aero bars...I personally would do a couple more races until you make this decision.

    Tri Suits...love 'em.

    I started with a run/walk program. If Zack can find the link, that would be a good way to go!
    Last edited by cjbruin; 02-14-05 at 08:57 AM.

  4. #4
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    Cool. I was thinking of trying an "aquathon" (?) in April to check out wetsuit options so maybe I'll try renting one then. It's just a 1000m swim and a 5k run so it should get me on track for that running. I know there are a couple running shops in this area that cater to triathletes so I'll check them out to see if they rent suits. I might hold off on the aero bars for a bit unless I see a good deal.

    Zack - if you have that link, I'd love to check it out. That sounds like exactly what I need since I tend to jump into running too quickly most of the time and end up hurting myself. Thanks!

  5. #5
    On Your Right ZackJones's Avatar
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    Here's the link for the printer friendly version of the article - it let's you read the entire article without having to page through several pages (and popups).

    Runner's World Article

    cjbruin: Thanks for the link for the wetsuit rental place. Why wouldn't you go the rental route, especially if you only needed the wetsuit for a single event?

  6. #6
    Senior Member ht001's Avatar
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    For more info on the running/walking thing...you can also read stuff by Jeff Galloway...go to http://runinjuryfree.com/

    As you continue with Tris definitely buy the things that will make you more comfortable, such as the tri suit. It is so much easier to get through an event when you're not having to be concerned about all sorts of clothing...there's enough to think about in this crazy sport as it is!

    Aero bars are a nice addition for comfort on the bike. Definitely get some mile in using them before you use them in an event. As someone else said, it takes some getting used to, and may require some adjustment on your bike. It might even be worth some fitting advice from your LBS.

    Above all...have fun with it!!
    "Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go." --T S Eliot

  7. #7
    MHR
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    Congrats on pushing yourself to new challanges

    I agree with the other posts - Rent a wetsuit before buying, trying on in a shop is not enough. You may (like me) perfer a longjohn style to a fullsuit (although I own both now). I only knew that because I rented several times trying both before deciding. A good full wet suit can run between $400.00 - $500.00 and I only use my full in some early season open water events - other than that they are just too warm for me. I know Fleetfeet near where I live rents them for about $20.00 (per day), also rentals also can be applied toward a purchase, so it's a win - win.

    Yes - "Aero" advantages are less of an impact in shorter distances - No, Aero bars are not over rated, the bike segment is a Time Trial. I would suggest you experience the race distance first before making the investment of aerobars or any other upgrades on your bike - as you may not be comfortable with the distance. As far as time saved with aero hardware, you will make a much bigger impact if you can do your transitions (both T-1 and T2) in 2 min. or less - this will place you with the faster athletes of the day (in the transitions) and make a large improvement in your overall time.

    For a Tri suit - I would say wait. Wearing something longsleeve in a race was a mistake, you want to be as cool as possible in all weather conditions. In 2001 when I ran the Marine Corps Marathon it was like 38 degrees and pretty windy at the start - I still choose shorts and a singlet. The only thing I added was thin gloves that I could toss whenever.
    I never wear a Tri suit - but then again I'm old school and also pretty much only do 1/2 IM and full IM's and perfer to race in "cycle specific" and "run specific" race attire. Did you ever try to run in bike shorts? - As a runner it's something I could never do - although the padding in a tri suit is a compromise, it's not the same amont as in a standard bike short but it is something although too much for me to run in. In the old days when I did an Olympic distance tri's, I would do the entire race in my Speedo (adding only run singlet for the bike and run - skipping the socks too). Being dry and comfortable in the longer events are key (at least for me) so the change of race attire is a welcome thing, but an individual choice. In the Olympic and Sprint you can tolerate a little discomfort as missing a change in T1 or T2 could mean 20 positions easy.

    Advice for people who can't run whatsoever - Start training! Work and spend the time on your weakness.
    - Build you miles/day and miles/week.
    - Use races as a part of training. Enter as many local 5 and 10k races as you can, as it will not only give you race experience, but help your running skills as well.
    - Join a local track club - most tend to focus on interval work which will improve your Vo2 max which = faster leg turnover and speed which can improve your running technique.
    I tend to run 65/week on average year round and compete in about 25-30 races during the year and consider running my key aerobic training.

    Good luck
    Last edited by MHR; 02-13-05 at 11:45 PM.

  8. #8
    Body by Guinness cjbruin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zack Jones
    cjbruin: Thanks for the link for the wetsuit rental place. Why wouldn't you go the rental route, especially if you only needed the wetsuit for a single event?
    Just my personal preference. For me, it was better to just go ahead and bite the bullet since I was planning on using it more than once. It seems that a lot of people are out there looking for used wetsuits but there isn't much supply. I figured I could always get rid of it if I decided I didn't like it.

    By the way...anyone in the market for a wetsuit should check out the Inside Triathlon 2005 Buyer's Guide. It has a lot of reviews on wetsuits. I just got it in the mail a couple of days ago...they may have posted some of it on www.insidetri.com but I'm too lazy to check

  9. #9
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    Thanks to everybody for the great replies - I'm definitely looking forward to this and started looking up 5k/10k races in my area last night. Now I just need to start running (and walking!) after reading all of those great running links. I'm going to get one of those daily planners to start writing down all of my workouts so I can get an idea of what I'm missing. I might have to take a peek at that Buyer's Guide too, although I'll hold off on the fancier stuff until I have a couple races under my belt. Right now I need to improve the triathlete more than the equipment
    Last edited by tri-berkeley; 02-15-05 at 10:57 AM.

  10. #10
    On Your Right ZackJones's Avatar
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    One very important thing to plan in your workouts is recovery weeks. Basically you schedule 3 weeks of building and on the 4th week cut everything by 50%. After your recovery week start the build process again. For Example:

    Week 1 - ride 1:00
    Week 2 - ride 1:15
    Week 3 - ride 1:30
    Week 4 - ride 45 minutes
    Week 5 - ride 1:45

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