The Gear You Need and the Gear You Don’t Need

November 11, 2009

This is the second of a series of articles by Ben Distel, our expert
obsessive exercise nut, discussing the sport of triathlon and how to set
yourself up for taking part. He is Japan’s only certified triathlon
bike fitter


(By Ben Distel)

I hope you enjoyed reading last month’s article and that I’ve inspired
you to start working out. I thank all who have contacted me and hope
that you’ll enjoy the triathlon journey. Are you starting to recognize
triathletes when they work out: the shrinking waist lines, tight fitting
apparel, shaved legs, always wearing a cap or visor showing off the
latest race they competed in?

Now you need determination and a goal. There are a few really great
races coming up in the spring so this is the time to get going. In mid
April the legendary Ishigaki Triathlon will be held on Okinawa:  a
classic ‘must do’ race for all triathletes and a great destination for that
very first race. Once you have your goal set you need a training schedule and training partners to push you to the next level.

So now that you’re ready to give up that last beer at Legends, let’s talk about the stuff you need to participate in triathlon:

General Rule #1: just because your friend or favorite pro uses it does not mean it will work for you. Do the research and make sure you can try the equipment you want before purchase.
General Rule #2: stick with what works for you.

All you need for the swim is some good swim apparel and a pair of goggles. You can also opt for a trisuit
which is a one or two piece race suit with some light padding that you can use for the entire race. Goggles can be bought anywhere with brands like Speedo,
Aquasphere and TYR all making top quality gear. Art Sports in Shibuya is a good source for triathlon gear, goggles and much more.


BIKE: The single biggest expense for your triathlon adventures will be the bike. If you don’t have a bicycle yet you have a tough choice to make.

You can either spend the money and buy something now that will last you for years and for which you will never look back thinking ‘I should have got the better bike’; or if you are not sure triathlon will be a long term commitment buy an entry level bike which you may potentially look at a year from now and think ‘I should have got that better bike’.

There are too many factors involved in the selection of a bike to explain in detail here but I’ll try to give a few pointers:

1. If you don’t have a bike yet, I strongly recommend that you rent or borrow a bike somehow to do your first race. Once you’ve caught the triathlon bug, go out and get yourself a really nice, fast bike that will give you years of joy.

2. Bike Fitting: The single most important factor in buying a bike is the bike fit. No matter how expensive, aerodynamic or light it may be, a bike that does not fit you well will not make you go fast and is likely to get you injured.
T1bicycles is Japan’s only certified Triathlon bike fitter, so please contact us if you are about to buy a bicycle so we can help you select the right bike for you.

3. Other essentials: helmet, bike shoes, bike shorts and a jersey.

4. Where to buy? You can go by price alone and buy from an online retailer, or if you are willing to pay a bit more for the convenience of a friendly bike shop and mechanic I strongly recommend that you take this option. Be aware that product availability in clothing for tall people will make that a challenge in Japan.

It is critical that you have an expert look at your gait (or running style) and then recommend the proper shoes for you. Most serious run stores in the USA offer this service, but in Tokyo I’ve only found the Asics store doing a job I’m happy with: http://www.asics.co.jp/running/store/index.html

Equipment you need: Running shorts, running top, socks and in the winter good warm breathable base layers. There are a couple of good spots to run in Tokyo but all involve endless loops. Try to find one that doesn’t bore you too much, or mix it up a little.

Other Thoughts:
Lots of companies are making good money from triathlon competitors. In order to keep selling they will continue to invent new goodies and invent reasons why you should buy them. Some are good inventions and some are totally bogus. For your first races I strongly suggest to stick with the basics as listed above and while training with your fellow athletes you’ll find
out what makes things easier for you. So don’t spend your good money yet on triathlon bags, GPS monitors, disc wheels, Vo2 MAX tests and aero helmets. We’ll get to them later.

In the next article I’ll talk about where the crazy work outs, where good coaching advice can be found and share valuable tips on male leg shaving, a must for serious triathletes.

Enjoy the training!




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: