Triathlons are physical endurance events that come in all shapes and sizes. But how much will a triathlon cost you really?
Since they always consist of swimming, cycling, and running, the supplies required are usually the same. Here’s a breakdown of everything you need to buy.
My goal here is to spread light on what you’re letting yourself in for so that you’re full informed before making committing. This comes from experience as I recover from my first Olympic triathlon.
Logistics – Tickets & Travel
There are several costs before even training for a triathlon. Nowadays, tickets alone are circa £80 for an Olympic-distance tri. Then there is the transport/fuel and accommodation for the night before if you’re travelling. Let’s be conservative and say only £30.
Total logistics: £110
Goggles & anti-fog
Goggles are required for the swim discipline, no question. You can buy either normal pool goggles like Zoggs or special smoked (shaded) tri ones. Usually, this’ll set you back £20-50. When you start open water training, you’ll find the cold makes them steam up real quick. Anti-fog spray will keep the condensation away for £4.
Check your triathlon’s info pack for if they provide one, but regardless you will end up buying one for training. From Ebay, this costs around £3.
The type of weather in your area determines what wetsuit to buy. Summer ones are thinner, whereas winter ones are thicker. They also come in long and short sleeves. A safe rule of thumb is to get a thin one for summer, and always go long-sleeved in Britain. Zone 3 are a good beginner’s brand and cost around £55 from Amazon.
Note: if you’re particularly prone to the cooler weather, other wetsuit accessories can keep you warmer, like special gloves and socks. To keep the cost down, let’s embrace the muscle-soothing effects of cold water.
Total swimming: £92
Bike, accessories, & repairs
Clearly, a bicycle is the biggest expense for this discipline. They will set you back anywhere from £100-£500 for a beginner road/racing bike. I recommend purchasing a used one from Facebook or Ebay for about £150.
Also bear in mind that you will need a pump that goes up to 120 PSI (£12), and likely at least one new inner tube or similar repair along the way (£20).
Total cycling: £182
The cheapest element of the tri, all you need are the clothes on your back, which will be the same gear you wear for the cycle.
Triathlon shorts will be worn under your wetsuit, then left on for the cycle and run. They cost around £30. A tri top can be used, but a t-shirt is cheaper.
On the off-chance you don’t own a pair of running shoes, these can be acquired for £20-50.
Total running: £55
Here’s where a lot of the hidden costs come in – in the diet during training. For an intense training program in the lead up to the big day, you will burn more calories and therefore need to consume much more food and drink in general. Here’s some specifics:
Protein is what your body builds back muscles with. Therefore, by eating more protein, I found my body ached for a much shorter time, allowing recovery to be quicker between sessions. A bag of 2.5kg costs around £40 on Amazon.
Second only to protein, creatine is the most-researched sports supplement. “Creatine is thought to improve strength, increase lean muscle mass, and help the muscles recover more quickly during exercise. This muscular boost may help athletes achieve bursts of speed and energy, especially during short bouts of high-intensity activities” (WebMD). A 100g bag is around £10.
Electrolytes are minerals your body loses through blood, urine, and sweat (so exercise). Purported benefits are improved performance, sleep, immunity, rehydration, and decreased chance of heatstroke, among other things.
Energy drinks like Lucozade include electrolytes, but a cheaper way to get hold of them is tablets that dissolve in water. I used 2 tubes of 20, setting me back £8.
Last but not least, the product that helps during training and is definitely necessary on the day, is energy gels. They contain short-release carbohydrates and can also include caffeine (like these great High5 ones). During the tri, I took one roughly every hour. In total, I used 2 boxes of 20, so £30 total.
Total nutrition: £88
That brings our total to £527. Quite pricey. Now, there will be other costs associated with this endeavour, such as sweet treats for after particularly rough training sessions as incentives, and lunch from a food van on the day of the triathlon.
Now you’ll have more knowledge of all triathlon costs and won’t forget anything.