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Triathlon Gear Advice From The Pros

Your favorite pros give their advice on when to save, when to splurge and when to mix it up.

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For newcomers to the sport, triathlon can be overwhelming. The options for gear, training techniques and nutrition are endless—and often unwieldy to tackle on one’s own. We reached out to 14 triathlon veterans for their best advice and insights to make your triathlon experience even better. Each day this week we’ll share their advice on a different topic. First up, the pros’ advice on gear, gadgets and when to save and when to splurge.

Mary Beth Ellis: Take time to buy gear as you need it. It’s OK to race on a road bike for the first few years or to race on training wheels. Slowly invest in products as you develop in the sport.

Linsey Corbin: Chamois cream is wonderful! And I can’t speak for men, but the ISM saddle has revolutionized how I feel about long bike rides.

Meredith Kessler: It’s worth the time and money for a quality bike fit—with a fitter who understands triathlon. Remember, you have to run off of the bike. Don’t get a fit for a pure cyclist. You don’t want your leg muscles crushed by a suboptimal bike fit, leaving you with nothing for the run.

Cliff English: The best swim tool? A band. It’s all about turnover, holding water, body position and strength.

Heather Jackson: The second a pair of running shoes loses form or bounce or just feels flat, get a new pair! $100 or so is worth spending to avoid shin splints, Achilles issues, etc. Find a brand that works for you.

Leanda Cave: Keep gear choices simple. The more complicated the product, the more you will pay for a gimmick. If you are the best athlete in the world, then you have a valid reason to find extra seconds through top-of-the-range products. If you are not, train a bit smarter and lose those extra seconds for free.

Andy Potts: You can borrow a bike more easily than you can borrow a tri suit! Find one that feels good against your skin and allows for maximum range of motion.

Heather Jackson: You train as hard as you can to tune your body, so it is just as important that your machine is tuned and cared for. Bike maintenance is a controllable factor. Sure, anyone can get a flat by rolling over something on the road—that’s bad luck. But if your tire is so worn down that it flats easily, that’s preventable. If your chain is not oiled and gliding smoothly and shifting easily, that takes away from your speed every single shift or pedal stroke.

Ben Hoffman: There is a time of year to be ultra-serious about power data, speed, etc., and a time to go on feel. It’s hard to be on point all the time, so give yourself mental breaks. I ride road and mountain bikes a lot in the rebuilding phase. Do plenty of strength work and do some unrelated sports too, like skiing. The season is long, so there’s no sense in burning out before you start!

Josiah Middaugh: The most important high-tech gear I own is my CompuTrainer. It has been the single best way for me to improve cycling performance from year to year, especially in the winter. It’s also the most time-efficient way to train on the bike. I don’t think other pros believe me when I say I only train on the bike four to five hours per week and consistently have one of the fastest bike splits!

Leanda Cave: Make sure you have a comfortable saddle; this is the one thing you should spend money on. If your bum is happy, you can ride much stronger and more efficiently.

Check back to tomorrow for the pros’ advice on recovery and injury prevention.

RELATED – Macca’s Musings: Advice for Beginner Triathletes From A World Champion

More about our panel

» Leanda Cave: Reigning Ironman 70.3 and Ironman world champion
Andy Potts: Ironman 70.3 world champion, Ironman champion and Olympian
Mary Beth Ellis: Six-time Ironman champion
» Rachel Joyce: ITU Long Distance world champion, Challenge Roth champion and Ironman champion
Timothy O’Donnell: ITU Long Distance world champion and Ironman 70.3 U.S. pro champion
» Meredith Kessler: Five-time Ironman champion who details numerous training tips in her soon-to-be-released book Life of a Triathlete (
Josiah Middaugh: Eight-time Xterra national champion
Linsey Corbin: Three-time Ironman champion
Ben Hoffman: Two-time Ironman champion
Heather Jackson: 2012 Wildflower Long Course champion and course record holder, 2013 Escape from Alcatraz and Ironman 70.3 California champion
» Terenzo Bozzone: Ironman 70.3 world champion
» Michellie Jones: Ironman world champion, Olympic silver medalist and elite coach
» Jimmy Riccitello: Xterra world champion and elite coach
Cliff English: Elite national and international level coach

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