Trisuit or two-piece? What to consider before buying your race day triathlon apparel
In triathlons, what you wear has a large impact on your race day performance. Selecting the wrong type of apparel can impact your comfort, speed or even make you DNF (not finish) the event. No one wants to throw away months of preparation door to poor choices when it comes to race day gear.
Deciding your race day gear is something that starts months before your targeted event as regardless what will be your choice, you must try it in training and ideally on smaller races before your main event. Don’t ever leave race day apparel as a last minute decision as it can be too late.
Your first decision will be to pick in between a trisuit (once piece) or a tritop+trisuit (two piece).
You must also consider if your main events are wetsuit legal, if not, as its the case in most events in South East Asia, make sure your trisuit or twopiece don’t have any pockets as it will increase the drag in the water. If you need the pockets for a long distance race for example, it may be worth investing on a speedsuit, it will help both in the water by decreasing drag and out of the water as it will allow you to use your pocketed trisuit underneath.
While the trisuit is a faster option for short course events, the two-piece is generally seen as more comfortable and versatile for long distance races, you can use your favorite combinations, for example bike shorts with extra padding with a pocketed tritop, or a thinner bike shorts with a sleeved tritop. The two-piece is especially useful compared to the trisuit if you need a toilet stop on race day and on long distance events this is likely to happen.
You may also opt to get fully changed during transitions, for example if bike comfort is a priority, you may ride with bike shorts and bike jersey then on transition two change to a full on running kit. Or if you are a beginner doing an ironman and need some sun protection you may ride with a long sleeve jersey then change to something else on the run as the sun will likely be going down by the time you start the run
The newer options of most brands are trisuits with sleeves, these are mostly for high performance triathletes as they are proved to be more aerodynamic on the bike, the main disadvantage is the fact that you can’t quite swim with it without a wetsuit, leaving you with two options: roll it inside your speedsuit, or put it on during transition, which can also be challenging as you have a wet torso.
What about socks? Several athletes can get away without them for short course events, but they will be important for long distance races. Opt for a fabric that allows little water absorption, typically from high-tech fabric rather than cotton. To avoid blisters you may also use a lubricant around your toes before putting on your socks.
Head gear is also important and something all triathletes will use, visors tend to be the most popular over caps as it allows athletes to comfortably pour water on their heads, the downside can be sunburn for men with short hair.
As you’ve learned, there are several combinations you can use, pick what you think it will suit you better and run some tests both in training and also on smaller events prior to your A-races of the year.
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