January 23, 2018

Triathlon Return on Investment

Get More for Your Money, Jarrett Pfleiger

Look around at any triathlon race and you will see that most triathletes are not afraid to spend money on their sport. If we think a piece of equipment will make us faster and give us an edge on our competitors, most of us will probably buy it. Bikes the price of a used car, the most cutting edge running shoes, the most buoyant wetsuits money can buy, all to shave a few seconds or minutes off their race times.

There are new technological advancements being made in the sport every day. Bikes are lighter and more aerodynamic than they have ever been. Wetsuits are more buoyant and friction resistant, and shoes are lighter and perform better. One could spend a small fortune trying to have the best equipment out there, and some do.

Even though some equipment out there is amazing and can definitely shave time off your races, you may not be getting as much return on investment as you could by spending your money elsewhere, such as with coaching or a good training plan.

For a good cyclist, a nice bike could shave minutes off bike times, but for novice to average cyclists, the performance improvement is not as dramatic. The advantage in aerodynamics and weight is most dramatic for cyclists pushing the boundaries of human performance. For the average Joe, the gains in performance may not be worth the cost.

Buying a high-end bike when you are still a beginner is like spending a ton of money on the best wetsuit if you are not a good swimmer. Yes, more expensive wetsuits are more buoyant and create less friction in the water, but performance gains are really only noticeable for swimmers that already have their technique and speed down and just need that extra edge. If you are just an average swimmer, an entry-level wetsuit will be perfect. I recently bought a brand new Xterra wetsuit for $99 on sale and I love it. Just look for the deals and don’t feel like you need to drop over $500 on the next best thing.

Basically what I’m saying is to look for how much you are getting for how much you are paying, or “return on investment.” Is $5,000 for the new triathlon bike worth the few minutes you might save? What if you invested a little money in some coaching to raise the efficiency of your pedal stroke, a good bike fit to squeeze some extra power out of your legs, and/or a good training plan to make you a better cyclist. What about taking the hundreds of dollars you save by not buying a cutting edge wetsuit and invest it in some swim coaching, or maybe some good video analysis, to really cut minutes away from your swim time. I guarantee that for an average or below average swimmer, just a few swim coaching lessons will make you much faster than a top wetsuit will over an entry level wetsuit.

Don’t just throw money at your weaknesses; you need to tackle them head on. So many times people see our endless pool and get scared when they see the mirror at the bottom of the pool, or our underwater camera. Many are terrified to see themselves swim, which makes no sense to me. If you know you have bad technique, you should do everything you can to fix it, not spend $500 on a wetsuit or a small fortune on a bike and hope it goes away. From our experiences here at Triathica, most of the time, its only one or two little technique tweaks that make a HUGE difference. At just over $30 a pop per coaching lesson at Triathica, that’s a pretty good return on investment if you ask me.

If money is no option and you can afford all the best equipment and good coaching, then do both. But if your funds are limited, and you have to choose between that new carbon fiber bike or some good quality coaching to bring up your weak points, you will get more return on your investment with good coaching and training every time.

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