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Inaugural Triathlife Essentials Guide

Pro triathlete Jesse Thomas shares his personal gear/services/stuff checklist for balancing a crazy life.

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Pro triathlete Jesse Thomas shares his personal gear/services/stuff checklist for balancing a crazy life.

Most triathletes are gear junkies—it’s the nature of a sport that is second only to NASCAR in the amount of equipment necessary to participate. And while I don’t view myself as a total gear dork, my jobs are definitely aided by lots of “stuff” on a daily basis. Plus, being a former product developer and now business owner, I have a particularly deep appreciation for well-designed stuff and services. „

It’s no secret that I have sponsors who provide me with a few of the things listed here. And yes, it’s probably of some marginal benefit to them if I mention their products. But alas, this is not a sponsored piece in any way, shape or form. I didn’t tell any of them I was doing this, and I didn’t ask for anyone’s suggestions.

What I did do was go through my stuff—my backpack, garage, closet, car, hair, etc., and identified the things that I use often and thought were particularly valuable to me, and maybe not totally obvious. Given the day-to-day craziness of balancing my current Triathlife, I focused on products that have the following characteristics:

Save me time, hassle, headache and/or public embarrassment

Make me more effective as an athlete, business owner, husband and father

Anything that makes me say “booyah” every time I use it

So here is a bunch of stuff that does some or all of those things for me. Hopefully they will for you also.

RELATED – Triathlife: Are You A Tri Dork?

Mini fan, ear plugs and Tempur-Pedic Sleep Mask
I’m a fussier sleeper than my baby boy, so I use a mask, ear plugs and a tiny fan by my face every single night. High maintenance in the house! But I sleep better, which is the first step to doing anything well. The Tempur-Pedic mask is worth the extra coin because it lets you open your eyes with the mask on. Booyah!

Amazon Prime
I order almost everything online through AmazonPrime. My recent orders include tools, most of the stuff on this list, and yes, TP. The included two-day shipping saves lots of time and energy, especially now that every trip out of the house means bringing baby and his car full of gear.

Safeway roasted chicken, Daiya cheese, corn tortillas, guacamole in a bag
Heat two pans. Add tortillas and cheese. Microwave chicken for 1 min. Put chicken on cheese. Squirt some guac in there. Fold. This gluten-free, dairy-free meal can be made up to nine times a week and will always taste amazing. Prep time is 4–6 minutes, depending on the distance from microwave to stove.

Roka Sim Short
Designed to simulate a wetsuit body position in the pool, the Sim short also allows me to swim faster (2–4 sec/100) with the same effort when I’m with a fast group or I just need extra rest that day.

Remington Dual Blade Facial Trimmer
Lauren doesn’t dig a smooth-legged man, so I only shave on the road before my races. This face trimmer does a surprisingly fast and effective job of grooming my fur. Plus, it’s the size of a pen and battery operated, which means it’s super packable.

Patrick is my VP of operations at Picky Bars. We collaborate heavily and regularly, but he manages day-to-day operations at the office, enabling me to race, have a family and own a business without all three imploding. While Patrick isn’t for sale (at least I hope he’s not) the advice here is to identify where you may be able to employ your own Patrick—for business, financial management, groceries or other needs—who complements your skill set, can take over some of the stuff on your plate and enable you to spend more time doing the things only you can do.

ExOfficio underwear and Quiksilver Amphibian shorts
I have an incredible ability to sweat. This is the only underwear/shorts combo I’ve found that can handle that ability.

RELATED – Triathlife: TriSpeak

Jaybird BlueBuds X headphones
No joke, these wireless, Bluetooth little dudes are either in my pocket or on my ears the entire day while riding, running, working, driving, making dinner, etc. I use them for phone calls, music, podcasts, audiobooks or just to pretend that I’m doing something important.

I only read at night when I’m in bed, which is why it took me two years to finish The Count of Monte Cristo. But Audible lets me listen to books at any time. I now have lots of time to learn.

Miss Jessie’s Quick Curls
If I didn’t use hair product after a workout, I’d not only look like a goober, but a small family of squirrels might jump out of my hair nest during a business meeting. This product works well on my curly fro, and it has the name Jessie in it.

Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Barrier Lite Jacket
Again, it’s all about efficiency. This light windbreaker/rain jacket gets me through about 20 degrees of temp and weather change, and crunches down super small to fit in a jersey pocket. I carry that jacket with me 10 months a year.

Apple TV
Hulu, Netflix and now HBO Go. Can you say “recovery”? Jude, my baby son, likes “The Sopranos.”

Picky Bars
I know, what a surprise! Honestly, they’re always in my bag and are my go-to snack because they’re tasty, balanced and the perfect caloric size. I also leave them under my bed for when I wake up starving and I’m too hungry to fall back asleep but too tired to go to the kitchen.

Lacrosse ball
Something always hurts, and a lacrosse ball has the perfect size, shape, hardness and grip for self-inflicted pain/massage. I always have one in my bag.

Motorola Razr Droid
I know everyone loves their iPhone blah blah blah. But seriously, the battery on this thing is so money, I never have to worry about it dying on my ride just because I also made a phone call that day.

Specialized Roubaix tires
All my non-race wheels have these tires on them. They never flat. It’s nuts! They save me time and keep my marriage intact because I never have to call Lauren for a pickup out in the middle of nowhere.

Google Drive and Documents
The system I use to collaborate with my Picky Bars team from anywhere, log my workouts and write articles like this one! Seamlessly used on phone and computer, always up to date.

That’s it! Tweet me if you agree or disagree and if you have suggestions for secret, simple and/or creative stuff you use to help you balance your Triathlife.

More “Triathlife” columns from Jesse Thomas.

Jesse Thomas (@jessemthomas) is a three-time Wildflower Long Course champion and the CEO of Picky Bars (

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