Lauren—So, you've signed up for a race. You're stoked, you're gradually starting to train and realize that you need a few extra pieces of gear to properly—and safely—outfit yourself.
Here are some suggestions for you from a budget-minded perspective:
Find a friend
Friends who've been training for races, that is. I cannot stress enough the value of pals, family and teammates already in the know. So many are willing to share their knowledge and help newbies find their way.
Some may even let you borrow and product-test their gear before you buy (my new name is "Can I Borrow Your Bike" Clapperton). People in the know—especially coaches—will send you information on the hook-ups to pre- and post-season gear sales.
Where to Buy Clothes
It'll be hard to steer you away from lululemon products for your run, cross-training and swimming. Yes! Select lululemon stores have women's sport bathing suits right now (check out the image of Georgia in our Fastlane Suit) We even have some amazing cycling-appropriate pieces: TriBabe Short and Activa Vest, anyone?
Where to Buy Shoes
Your local running-specific shoe store is your safest bet. Many have sales on once-worn shoes. The most important thing is that they'll evaluate your gait and stride, ensuring the ideal fit for your foot, which is worth the price.
Just remember to replace those suckers every 300-500 miles (3 months to a year, depending on your activity level). If you're still relying on your Nike Air Jordan high-tops, it's time for some new kicks.
Where to Buy Bikes
- Cycling shops - check out the low mileage rentals turned sale bikes and last season's close outs. Like the shoe shops, these guys will fit you properly.
- Local Tri Club postings
- Craigslist (but be careful - I almost accidentally bought a stolen one this weekend). Have a cycling enthusiast check out the post or come with you to the test ride. If the seller won't let you take it for a few days, or at least a legitimate test ride, don't trust 'em!
A helmet is a must!
Where to Buy Gear
- At a race expo, usually held one-two days prior to the event. Deals galore can be had here, just make sure to come with a list of what you NEED, and enjoy the new bar samples along the way!
- At a race - similar to the expo, on a smaller scale, and usually guaranteed to be sport-appropriate
- Xterra frequently has sales on wetsuits
Again, go with your "real" tri friends to special pre- and post- season sales
Used = Good
Don't be ashamed to start used with wetsuits and bikes. Don't buy new and pricey, especially if this is your first race and you aren't sure you love the sport yet (but you will!). Find the money:
- Sell your old beach cruiser
- Give up frozen yogurt for a month (ah- that is hard one)
- Pick up an extra shift/account/client with motivation to fill the wallet for your gear
- Take change from others' couch cushions