Before y’all jump on my for being self-righteous, or think that because I’m writing this that I’m above a bit of ‘shameless gear buying’… I’m not. Triathlon, by its very nature, involves a LOT of equipment, some necessary… some less so.
What I do urge you to consider, before pulling the pin on that new aero helmet, (y’know, the one with the revolutionary dimples… that will for sure get me to Kona!) is “Could I better spend that money”… that is, of course, assuming your ultimate goal is to go faster. If your goal is just to look ‘fly’, that’s a different conversation…
It’s easy to convince ourselves that, faced with a daunting athletic challenge that whatever we are about to “invest in” will make us faster, stronger, better! Essentially, people are buying confidence. And while there is some efficacy to the placebo effect, if you’re after true improvements, there are plenty of purchases out there, that are:
a) Not that revolutionary different from what you’re already using, e.g. buying a new disc wheel with the fractionally different updated shape… it’s still a disc
b) Focusing on very marginal gains when you have step changes to make. I’m sorry to break it to you, but if you’re a mid-pack swimmer, buying the goggles that will shave 0.001 seconds per 100m shouldn’t be occupying your thoughts… or put a bit more bluntly – you’re not fast enough for the gear in question to really matter, (sorry).
c) Not based on any data. If you’re looking for speed, look for data – not marketing hype.
But If you’ve still got some cash burning a hole in your pocket and you want to try and buy some speed, what are some good, (and sometimes overlooked) options? In no particular order…
- Coaching – If you’ve just been ‘doing your own thing’ and never had an expert look at the way you train, recover and eat, there are potential huge gains to be had
- Physio/Massage – You’re not going to be fast if you’re injured and broken. Get those issues sorted and prevent further ones with some maintenance
- Better Quality Food – Not an area I think anyone should cut corners on! Those new tri shoes = a hell of a lot of nutrient dense food!
- Nice Accommodation at Events – For your ‘A-Races’ nothing beats having a nice place to prep and relax before the event. A good night’s sleep is priceless
- Sports Psychologist – A big part of the game is, of course, mental; if you suffer from any limiting thought patterns this could be a worthy investment
- Blood/Gut/Hormone Tests – This is a big one, even if you ‘feel ok’ this might uncover something worth looking into
- Supplements – Lot’s of angles here and this could fill many posts, but there are some supplements that I think are a good idea for athletes… especially if your blood/hormone/gut tests reveal something
- A Good Bed – Sleep is super important, (duh) and if you’re sleeping on an old dog mattress I’d upgrade this before your wheels
- Metabolic Testing- Do you know your metabolic efficiency? VO2 Max? etc. This knowledge can impact how you train and fuel
- Meditation Courses/App – Stress management is huge, spending a few bucks on an app like ‘Headspace’ is well worth it
- Bike Maintenance Course – This one will save you giving lots of cash to the bike shop in the long run… nuff said
- Power Meter – I realise this is a piece of gear… but the value here is being able to train far smarter on the bike… Best. Investment. Ever.
The list could, of course, go on… but I hope that gave you a little food for thought. I also urge you, whatever you choose to spend your money on, you look to the long term. Get something of quality that you won’t have to constantly replace or upgrade. Spend a little more if you have to… you’ll only cry once.
But fundamentally, care and attention paid to your training plan will yield far greater benefits that any one bit of gear will. After all, people have been laying down very fast times for years looking like this…