Ask the FBGs: What Do I Wear for a Triathlon?

Folks wear a wide variety of ensembles for triathlon. The best plan? Wear what feels comfortable and holds things in place. Credit: Sonic Fitness

Today we’re featuring an Ask the FBGs post, where readers like you ask the FBGs for advice. Nothing is off limits, although we do prefer that it’s fitness or nutrition related, so send your undying health questions to [email protected]. You just might see them posted on the site in the future!

Hi, FBGs!

Big fan! I have a question about triathlons, specifically what you wear and how you change for each piece. I am doing my first ever sprint triathlon in June, and I am really confused about what you wear, especially about sports bras and transitioning. Could you please explain what you wear from undergarments to over garments for each portion of the race? Also, I am D cup, so some flimsy under bra or a bathing suit top is not going to cut it for the run portion.
Thanks!
Lindsay

Hi Lindsay,

GIRL. This is such a great question. In fact, it was something I really struggled with for my first tri, so I’m super happy to pass along what I know! But before I get to the specifics for each leg, here are a couple of important points:

  • You shouldn’t have to actually change out of anything. You might add a layer here or there, but, until you get to the 70.3 and 140.6 distances, there’s not really much need (or opportunity) to change completely.
  • If you want to carry anything with you (like Gu), make sure you either have a pocket to hold it or a place on your bike to store or tape it. That being said, I’ve been known to stuff a Gu in the strap of my sports bra or down my cleavage while biking when the zipper on my pocket wasn’t cooperating.
  • In addition to your clothes, make sure you have sunscreen and, if you use it, Body Glide (or another anti-chafing product). Even if you don’t normally chafe during a workout, you’d be surprised at the areas that get rubbed the wrong way during a tri.

Swim

Sprint distance swims are usually a quarter mile to a half mile, meaning you won’t be in the water for too terribly long. Unless the water is positively freezing, a wetsuit shouldn’t be necessary. You’ll see people in everything from cute little sporty bikinis to professional-looking speed suits. So, as far as looking like you belong there goes, don’t sweat it. You’ll probably fall somewhere in the middle.

I wear a Speedo tankini top with one of my less expensive sports bras underneath. With your ample bosom, I really doubt you’ll find a swimsuit that will provide enough support for the run—shoot, I’m a B cup and I need extra support! Focus on finding a sports bra that holds everything in place, but that you didn’t spend a ton on because it’s not exactly ideal, wear and tear-wise, to wear a bra in the water and then continue wearing it for another hour or so of vigorous exercise. (Maybe this one?) Then, you can wear either a full, one-piece bathing suit (although that makes pre-race bathroom trips a little tricky) or a tankini top, or even a tri top. Whatever feels comfortable will be great. Promise.

On the bottom, I highly recommend getting a pair of tri shorts. (I just ordered this pair on the enthusiastic recommendation of a friend.) For one thing, they have just a little bit of padding—enough to make the bike a little more bearable for your lady parts, but not so much that you look (and feel) like you’re wearing a diaper on the run (which is the case with many bike shorts). Plus, the chamois material is better for your booty and surrounding areas than straight-up spandex. They’re fine to wear in the water and will serve you perfectly well through the bike and the run.

Of course, you can always find a full tri suit, but they’re pricey and, well, you remember the bathroom situation I mentioned above? It’s even trickier in one of these suckers. Oh, the stories I could tell of watching people come out of Porta-Potties trying to figure out how they got so twisted up in their suits…

Bike

You should be good to go with what you wore in the water. Most likely, you’ll have your race number on your helmet and your bike, so you won’t need to put anything on in T1 except for your shoes and socks, if you’re wearing them.

If you’re more comfortable putting a top of some sort on over your swimwear, you will not be the only one, but if you’re comfortable in what you’re wearing, that’s okay, too. Some folks like to wear bike gloves for this portion, some do not—it’s just a personal preference.

Also? Sunglasses. Wear them. They’re good for safety when things fly up at you from the road, even if you don’t need the sun protection.

Run

You’ll have a race number that you need to wear for the run, and having a race belt (or even a tank top) that you can pin the number to before the race is a real saver. (Pro tip: Shave time off your transition by putting the belt or tank on as you’re running out of transition rather than standing at your bike as you get it all situated.) I can promise you that you don’t want to deal with pinning anything to yourself at this point.

You’ll already have your sunglasses on, but if it’s sunny, I recommend wearing a visor or lightweight hat for a little extra protection from the sun. Then, just make sure you’re wearing a smile for the finish line photos, because lady, you’re now a triathlete!

—The FBGs

Have you ever participated in a triathlon? Is there anything we’re missing above? —Kristen



Comments

  1. Erin says

    I’m a 38D & I wear tri shorts, along with my Moving Comfort Fiona sports bra under my tri top in every event, even the swim, & have never had a problem. It’s a super comfy, VERY supportive bra & doesn’t feel bogged down when you swim. I always apply body glide around my entire rib-cage/bra line & shoulders to prevent any chafing. GOOD LUCK!!

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