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Why do triathletes dress like that?

An explanation of our questionable fashion decisions

Photo by: Kevin Mackinnon

We know that we’re not like other people. In fact, we thrive on that fact. We do more workouts than just about everyone else, our races are way longer than pretty much everyone except those ultra types (but luckily enough there are so few of them that we’re still the coolest athletes at the gym), and, most of the time we even dress the part. So if you’re wondering why we dress the way we do, well, here’s why:

Race T-shirts

Hey, if you’ve just finished a race that took you somewhere between 9 and 17 hours, wouldn’t you want to let the whole world know about it? Even being able to tell someone “Oh yeah, that’s from the half-IRONMAN I did last weekend,” is enough to engender lots of respect, too.

Bright colours

While we’d like to tell you that the bright colour thing is because we want to be seen by cars and trucks when we’re out cycling and running, that doesn’t explain the fluorescent-yellow jacket that we love to wear to team get-togethers. Yes, we want you to ask what that team jacket is all about – we can’t wait to tell you about our training and how many of our team-mates are joining us at Ironman Mont-Tremblant of Ironman Canada later this year.

Compression socks

C’mon, really? You don’t know why it’s critical that we have those long, knee-length socks on even on the hottest days of the summer? Circulation, baby! It helps us recover, because recovery is everything when you’re a triathlete. You’re only as good as your last workout, and that was either this morning or last night (if you’re talking to us before 6 AM).

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Big sunglasses

It’s all about protection. From the sun, the wind, and other things that might fly into our eyes during the bike or run. OK, there’s a fashion component, too. Basically we have to wear huge shades because the powers that be at Oakley, Bolle, Scott and Smith (to name just a few) have made it clear that those are the coolest shades to be wearing at the moment.

Sleeved tri-suits

Yeah, we know they can kind of look like a giant onesie, but when it comes to speed, these knew tri-suits are the real deal. Sure, the aero benefits might only make for a few seconds advantage, but a few seconds is a few seconds, right?

Small swimsuits

While precious few of us race in a “Speedo” these days, we wouldn’t be caught dead in the pool with anything else. Smaller swimsuits mean less drag which means faster times which means … we get to brag about that 100 split we hit at the end of that last workout!


Yes, we know that the rest of you wear a full hat, but for us triathletes everything we wear has a function. We need something to keep the sun off our face, but that still allows our heads to be cool. Then there’s the added bonus that the band can keep the sweat out of our eyes … so many benefits!