The wetsuit is a necessity for most outdoor swims in the UK. Some race organisers insist that all competitors wear a wetsuit regardless of water temperature. Look for a tri-specific or swim-specific suit, which is generally thinner and more flexible than those used for water sports. Swimming wetsuits repel the water with a hydrophobic covering, enabling smoother movement through the water. They can also help with buoyancy.
Goggles and a bike helmet should be next on your list. You won’t be able to compete unless you have a helmet that meets the relevant safety standards.
You can cycle in your running shoes, but many competitors prefer to use cleats, which are made up of two parts. The cleat is attached to the bottom of your cycling shoe and clips the shoe to the pedal. Competitors often leave their shoes clipped to the pedals in transition so it's a case of jumping on your bike, slipping into your shoes and heading off. Cleats also allow for better speeds, so they are worth buying if you are serious about triathlons.
Your bike and wetsuit will be your biggest financial outlay, but your running shoes can make or break your race! Be sure to invest in specialist running shoes. They don’t have to be expensive, but make sure they fit properly. It’s worth getting your running gait analysed, and you can then look to buying shoes with the relevant support or cushioning. Without decent, supportive shoes, you risk injuring yourself, particularly your knees or ankles.
Between the three legs, you’ll be heading into transition, so think about easing the process because precious time and energy can be wasted here. Sometimes it's the small things that can really make a difference. For example, elasticated laces will make putting your running shoes on and taking them off much quicker and easier.
You don’t have to spend a fortune, but it is worth investing in the right kit. It’s more comfortable and will help protect and support your body, all of which will ultimately save you time and money.