When I show up to event day, I like to keep things as simple as possible (it’s all relative, I am a triathlete after all). I think when it comes to the equipment you choose, the #1 most important thing is that it has been tested extensively prior to race day. Because I am a total tri gear nerd, I thought this would be a great way to give some insight into what’s essential for your best performance, and maybe you can take away something useful to benefit your race day experience.
Always two pairs of goggles (one clear and one mirrored)
You can never be too sure how bright or cloudy it might be at your given start time. I use the Speed Hound Alcatraz goggles. (Link here) They have plenty of peripheral vision for sighting in open water and I can put them on out of the box with NO leakage. BIG win.
This is going to be a lot of personal preference. Typically some of the higher end suits have a lot of fancy panels and hydrodynamic components, but the biggest difference is in the flexibility. In general, wetsuits can take some time breaking in, so it’s always a good idea to get in the water with it as much as possible before race day. I highly recommend checking out your local tri shop or events where brands have demo opportunities.
An aero helmet does look pretty dorky on almost everyone, but it does help when it comes to performance. Keep in mind the fit, because at the end of the day, it does need to protect your noggin. There are plenty of links to aero testing data these days to make some fairly informed decisions. slowtwitch.com has a lot of great information from both users and published contributors.
I prefer a tri-specific shoe which has closure systems that allow for a quick on-and-off transition. For longer races, a road shoe may be a better option for some in terms of comfort and lockdown feel on foot when transition times aren’t a huge deal.
I always pack my Speed Hound hat or visor. (Link here) It provides cover from the sun which is super important in hot races and keeps the sweat off my eyes and face.
Definitely my favorite piece of gear to geek out on, I have gone back and forth between very cushioned racers to lighter, more responsive type flats. Ultimately, fitness is going to get you to the line in your best time, but there is certainly data out there to support some of the new carbon fiber plate technology. More to come on that in this space…
Hopefully this gives you some ideas on not just the equipment we use, but why we use it and how to go about investing in it. This is a great sport, and it should be fun and not overly stressful or out-of-reach financially. I highly recommend checking out the triathlon race day checklist provided by Training Peaks on their site. (Link here) I use that one literally every time I pack my bags for a race weekend. Best of luck and happy training!