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Fitness gear for a triathlete-in-training

Advice and insight from a couple of Crutchfield athletes

As an endurance athlete (Ironman Wisconsin, 2012), I was excited to find out that my co-worker Aleta was training for her first long-distance triathlon. And since I'm Crutchfield's writer for sports watches, bike computers, and other fitness tracking devices, I was anxious to find out how Aleta was incorporating these devices into her training. I had a chance to sit down with Aleta recently to talk to her about her training and how she's employing the latest training gear from Garmin into her preparation.

Aleta with her Garmin in the pool

Ken: I got into triathlon from a running background. After doing some marathons I was looking for some new challenges. What got you interested in doing triathlons?

Aleta: It’s only been the last couple of years. I did a local triathlon, which consisted of a kayak, mountain bike, and trail run with some other Crutchfield coworkers. It was super fun and really propelled me to go after a traditional triathlon (swim, bike, run). As a kid, I was in awe of the Ironman race and the endurance required. It amazed me. I thought I could never do that. But I realized if I wanted to, I could. I’d just have to be willing to put in the time and effort.

Ken: What events do you have on your schedule for the upcoming season?

Aleta: My big race this year will be my first 70.3 triathlon in Ohio in July. I'll be leading into that with some running — a 1/2-marathon in May, plus some local 5K and 8K runs.

What sports fitness gear are you using?

Ken: When I first started we didn't have any real pieces of training gear beyond stopwatches and basic bike computers. Obviously, things have changed a lot in recent years with the introduction of GPS and wearable heart-rate monitors. What gear are you using?

Aleta: The piece I get the most use out of is my Garmin fenix 7S multi-sport watch. I love it and use it for all my sports. I also have a Tacx Flow bike trainer. It's awesome for indoor riding, which is great when it's cold or wet outside, and it links to my smartphone for easy uploads of training data. And I've got to have music, so a good pair of sports headphones are an essential part of my kit.

Garmin Fenix 7S multisport watch

Tacx Flow Smart bike trainer

Some of Aleta's gear choices

Ken: What features do your devices have that you really like?

Aleta: How they interact with one another. My sportswatch pulls data into a training app that my Ironman coach uses to review my workout and interact with me. In addition to weekly calls, she regularly comments on my daily workouts that feed right back to my watch. It records a lot of data. We don’t use it all, but it’s there for those who want to geek out.

There’s also the ability to download songs and have them play from your watch. It also has some great safety features that give my family comfort when I’m out by myself. I’ve only had the watch for a few months, and I’m still learning new ways to use it.

Garmin Connect Dashboard screen

Garmin Connect Activity screen

Aleta's watch automatically uploads her workouts to training apps like this one.

Ken: It's great that you have a coach. How do your apps and gear help you communicate with her?

Aleta: Yes, I have a triathlon coach. We interact with a software platform called Training Peaks so she can post workouts and then see what I've done. I live in a rural part of Virginia and don’t have access to a triathlon club or coach here in my area. It’s been the technology and electronics gear that’s made this possible for me.

Ken: We all love upgrades! What training gear do you have your eye on?

Aleta: A good bike computer is definitely on my list! Today's models have so many great features, like GPS, heart rate tracking, and training diagnostics. I've got some shopping to do!

Garmin Edge 130 Bundle

Bike computers like the Garmin Edge 830 offer GPS tracking, heart rate monitoring, and more.

Ken: Any advice on what training gear and software a newcomer should buy/use?

Aleta: For the features and price, the Tacx has been great. I am one of those shoppers who is price-conscious but if you show me a reason why I need something, I’ll consider it. The Tacx and its smart training features have really helped my biking.

The Garmin 945 is pricy and there are some more-affordable options that I considered, but I’m glad I chose it. I don’t regret the extra cost. There are so many gadgets to consider that it can be overwhelming. If on a budget, I’d recommend prioritizing what you’re looking to buy, as there can be some overlap in what one product does with another. That’s one reason I’ve been able to put off the bike computer purchase for a bit.

What do you use for training?

Tell us about your favorite training gear in the comments below. And if you have any questions about these items or any other fitness gear we carry, just contact our advisors.

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