All This Tri Gear Costs a Fortune!

Dear Amy,

Q: All of this tri gear costs a fortune! From the bike to the clothes to the nutritional supplements””do I really need to pay full price for top-of-the-line stuff? Where can I skimp?

A: Great question! It can be a bit overwhelming to get started in this crazy sport. The equipment you’ll need depends on your commitment level and how competitive you are. Do you plan on racing for one season, a couple of years””or making this a lifestyle?

Here are my thoughts on gear essentials, and when it’s OK to skimp, for each of the three disciplines.

Swimming:  The most important part of the swim leg is knowing how to swim! Investing in quality swim lessons can give you confidence and teach you to be more efficient so you’ll have more energy for the bike and run portions of a triathlon. The basic equipment””swimsuit, swim cap and goggles””can be expensive, but high-quality gear makes a difference. A wetsuit (which helps with buoyancy) is not required but recommended for colder swims. They can be pricey, ranging from $200 to $800, so you should know you’re serious about triathlon training before buying one.

Biking:  You can finish a triathlon on almost any bike, but if you want to compete and do well, you’ll want to invest in a good one. It’s best to head to your local bike shop and have an expert explain the differences between road, triathlon and mountain bikes and which choice would best suit your race goals. Remember, the lighter the bike, the faster you’ll go””but lighter bikes come with higher price tags. Be sure the bike you choose is the correct size for you. A good bike fit is necessary no matter what your cycling goals might be. In addition to the bike, you’ll need a helmet, which is mandatory in all races, and bike shoes. I also recommend getting a decent pair of cycling shorts to make training and racing more comfortable and enjoyable. Sometimes, online and local retailers offer package deals that include gear along with a bike””shop around for the best prices.

Running:  Do not skimp on shoes! Having poor-quality shoes could eventually lead to injury. Running shoes should be high quality, durable and well fitted to your foot. I recommend consulting experts at your local running store to find shoes that will give you the best fit.

Nutrition:  This is an easy one!  has all your nutritional needs covered””from sports drinks and nutrition bars/gels to supplements and healthy snacks, at a fraction of the cost of most retail stores. One of our favorite pre or post workout snacks is  applesauce  with Vitacost Whey  Protein Powder. So, there’s no need to skimp on being healthy!

About Team Marsh

Amy Marsh is a four-time Ironman champion, two-time IronDistance champion, and was named the 2010 USAT Long Distance Triathlete of the Year. Brandon Marsh has been competing in triathlons since 1988, and can be counted on to be a top-10 contender in every event he enters. Got a question about swim-bike-run or sports nutrition for Team Marsh? Email them at

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