1. Ask yourself what the kit is for. Are you after kit solely for swimming, just for running or purely for cycling, or do you want items that can work across a number of sports? The key things to look for in a multitasking piece of kit are the cut, the stitching and the placement of the seams. Attention to detail here will ensure you are comfortable and can concentrate on the challenge to hand rather than worrying about your clothing.
2. Look for a good fabric quality as this will make a world of difference to how you feel when training and racing. You need your kit to be working just as hard as you are, so look for technical fabrics which will wick away sweat from your skin. this will help keep you warm when necessary, you cool when you raise your own temperature and, most importantly, keep you dry in all weather conditions. Compression fabrics are also a bonus, they will help decrease your production of lactic acid, reduce muscular strain and improve your athletic performance. With your swimming kit look for quick drying fabrics so you aren’t carrying a wet swimsuit around all day after your early morning swim session. Most leading brands have full fabric details on their label, so be sure you check this before you purchase.
3. Is it practical? On a long ride or run, it always helps to be able to safely carry your essentials without having to worry about them getting soaked or making a bid for freedom. So check if it has a pocket for your keys / phone / snacks / emergency five pound note to get the bus home. When choosing cycling kit, look for three back pockets in which to stash a lightweight layer, your pump and a spare tyre. Some of the beauty of long-distance running and cycling lies in the self-sufficiency of the endeavour so, again, make your kit work for you.
4. Decide on your distance? You will need cycling shorts with a padded chamois in if you plan on doing any longer rides whilst a tri-specific chamois will probably be sufficient for short trips, commutes and spin classes. They are also easier to run in straight off the bike, so consider them for those brick training sessions. If you plan on doing a lot of swimming, whether open-water or lanes, check for durable straps which won’t rub or chafe with the repetitive front crawl movement – this is where a racer back costume comes into its own.
5. Look to layer up. You don’t need to spend lots of money on really expensive items, but what you do need are layers, and lots of them. A decent wind or waterproof jacket will go a long way when teamed a variety of lightweight layers underneath, enabling you to easily change your temperature according to the weather. It doesn’t mean you can’t wear your summer jersey in the winter, you just need to be able to fit a base layer underneath and a jacket on top.
Threo design and make high-performance tri kit for women and will be exhibiting at Triathlon Show: London from 16th to 19th Feburary. For more information, or to book tickets, go to www.triathlonshowlondon.co.uk