Triathlons are tricky to get used to – an understatement if ever there was one. However, for all the training and self-discipline involved, it turns out that the biggest Achilles Heel for so many triathletes is in fact nothing more than the much-maligned triathlon wetsuit. Yes, you bought a quality product and yes, you’re in good shape, but what about the actual logistics of wearing and using the thing?
Here’s a quick overview of the key tips to bear in mind when getting intimate with a triathlon wetsuit for the very first time:
1 – Tight is Right
Just a quick one to start off with, yes, a wetsuit can feel as if it’s three sizes too small but in reality this is how it’s supposed to feel. Not only do wetsuits have to be tight to work, but they’re also much tighter for the first few times worn before having the chance to loosen up.
2 – Pull Up
Don’t fall into the habit of wearing your wetsuit like you would a regular pair of trousers or sweater. Instead, pull the cuffs away from the ankles and the wrists allowing a little slack to build around your hips, shoulders and elbows for ease of movement.
3 – Try Shaving
If you intend to take things seriously, it’s worth bearing in mind that the smoother and more slippery your skin is, the easier you’ll get your wetsuit on and off. Exactly how far you go with the shaving is of course up to you, but it really does help transitions!
4 – Wear It In
There’s really nothing worse than saving your shiny new wetsuit until the day of the competition or practice session…even though it’s what so many triathletes do. This gives you no time to get used to it, no time to wear it in and no time to detect any potential faults. Instead, wear it for a couple of hours each day for a few days prior.
5 – Practice Changing
The first time you put on a triathlon wetsuit it’s normal to flail around like a fish out of water that’s trying to get into a sandwich bag. The good news however is that practice makes perfect and as every one of these seconds will make a difference in your performance, it’s a good idea to practice getting in and out of the thing a few dozen times at least.
6 – Lubricate
There are some triathletes who swear by lathering Vaseline or olive oil across their entire bodies. The benefits of doing so are debatable indeed, but at the same time there’s much to be said for lubricating your hands and feet in order to help the wetsuit glide on without your extremities sticking to the inner material. Again, practice makes perfect.
7 – Do As You’re Told
Last but not least, there will be an instruction card with the wetsuit you pick up – read it and heed it! If, for example, it says you should fold your suit in a certain way and not use any given product to clean it, you better believe these tips are there for your own good. Compromise the quality of your wetsuit and you compromise its performance…and by extension, your own.