What to Look for in a Tri Kit
Most common new triathlete question, what the #!*$ do I wear !? That part is easy, a tri kit!
But it goes deeper than that (insert dramatic music)...
Once you cross your first finish line, if what you were wearing didn't work ~as in, chafing, scars for life, circulation redefined... then we need to find you something that DOES work. Too tight, too big, the bra, the chamois, the material, separate pieces, full suit, it all matters!
So here's what to look for!
First off, any distance shorter than a 140.6, you wear the same piece(s) from swim to bike to run. There's usually no changing tents unless you want to take on the porta jon and nudity is strictly prohibited in transition. This is why it's key to find a tri kit that is comfortable and fits (and I know you want it to be flattering too). Reminder, triathletes come in allll shapes and sizes and pst, we're ALL in lycra. No shame. Full Ironman's give you the benefit of changing for comfort but I still recommend staying at least in the same top the whole time.
A triathlon kit is typically made of a moisture wicking material that is thin, light, and generally cool. The shorts have a small pad in the chamois for cycling. The pad is thick enough for cycling protection and thin enough not to notice it on the run. Yes it's tight, yes you'll show lumps and bumps, and your squish will squash. Get over it. If you don't wear it, I promise you'll be way more pissed, uncomfortable, and stand out like a sore thumb.
No, you do not wear underpants. You will chafe, rub, risk saddle sores, and more chafing all over. Are you prepared for a yeast infection? UGH! No unders.
You may or may not need a bra ~ladies. If your kit has a built in shelf that supports the girls, you got it made. Otherwise, make sure you also purchase a triathlon sports bra, not a cotton one (think sponge that will fill with water and try to sink you to the bottom of any body of water). The tri bras are made of the same material as the kits.
A good tri kit should fit somewhere between "I can't breath" and "okay I can deal with that". It should absolutely NOT be loose or baggy. That'll create unnecessary drag, chafing, and ultimately, DISCOMFORT. Don't worry about the size labels. Apparently tri kits are made for Asian super athletes because while I'm a small or medium in the real world, I am mostly a large and extra large in triathlon world. Put your supermodel ego away and be okay with whatever size fits right (remember, right = somewhere between "I can't breath" and "okay I can deal with that"). If it feels "comfortable", it's too big! The same applies for a wetsuit (later post).
No matter what you think or your body fat content, your ass will always look great, you'll always have armpit fat, and somehow even the slightest bit of body fat finds it's way OVER the top of your shorts. Read my above "get over it" tip. What's most important is that it doesn't chafe or bother you during your event. That takes me to my final tip, PRACTICE in your race kit. Never ever ever never EVER wear your kit for the first time at an event. I made that mistake and ended up in the ER getting a giant abscess sliced open, drained, and packed from my crotch area. It was pretty much the most embarrassing and painful moment(s) of my life.
I'm currently supported by Zoot and I'm PROUD to represent and recommend them. Their kits run a little small but I'll take the "large" label for extra large comfort. The material is the best quality on the market. They last race after race, training, and dozens of washes. I'm pretty sure I have a pair of tri shorts running on 4 years. It's probably time to let them go, but they're still comfortable!! I trust them! Don't make me! Don't judge me! So, they are of high quality, comfort, and they are CUTE! They are also one of the biggest names in triathlon so you feel like quite the bad ass when representing. Is that just me !? Anyway...
I also love Smashfest Queen. Their kits are TOTAL cuteness! They are teeny tiny though and sizes only go to XL. Swim Bike Mom has some fun kits for plus size triathletes and they're full of color too. You've also got Betty Designs if you're into skulls and butterflies or Pearl Izumi, DeSoto, and Sugoi if you're a plain Jane/John. I do have a pair of Desoto tri shorts that I love and a pair of Coeur Sports tri shorts that I like.
If you're confused about what size/style you might need, PLEASE message me and let's get you figured out. You have enough to worry about for a triathlon event than what the #!*$ to wear!!