Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Expense of Triathlons

I am reminded daily how much the sport of triathlons costs and it is so so frustrating.  Running was simple.  I bought a few outfits and a pair of shoes every few months.  My Garmin is still ticking after four years and I may have to replace an iPod every year because of sweat, but that is it.  Easy peasy!

Triathlons on the other hand, oh my, my middle-class budget doesn't compare to my competitors at all the events.  My bike was my biggest purchase, last May...


I will throw out numbers for you since I would want to know if I were looking into trying a triathlon.  My bike cost $1300.  This was not a low-end road bike, but it was FAR from a high-end bike.  It is the Canondale Synapse and it is smooth and fast.  This was totally worth the steep price tag, though I am thankful I don't have to do that again anytime soon.  Would I like a triathlon bike?

I would love a triathlon bike, but it is not in my near future.  Maybe when I am a middle-aged age grouper, but this new age grouper will stick to her road bike with new aero bars that my husband bought me for my birthday.


He found them on eBay for $65.  This was a pretty good deal, so if you are looking to add aero bars to your bike, make sure you shop around.

Next up is my gear.  If you are looking to buy a wetsuit, make sure you shop around.  I found my wetsuit for under $150 with a discount code that was offered by my triathlon I was signed up for.  The codes are floating around all the time, and this was for 60% off.


My helmet, pedals, and bike shoes were another $250.  I bought the bike shoes off clearance so they were half off.  I bought the basic clip in pedals and the cheapest helmet.  I would LOVE to get an aero helmet before Lake Placid, but I don't think a $200 helmet is in the budget this year.


As for triathlon clothes, I purchased a few pairs of tri shorts and a few tops from Athleta.  The shorts are around $60 each, but I finally found a pair of tri shorts that I love.  Athleta just came out with the Queen K shorts and I HIGHLY recommend them to you.  


They are by far the most comfortable tri shorts I have worn and they are actually cute.  And, if you donate to Team in Training  through my blog you are entered for a chance to win a $100 gift card to Athelta so they could be even cheaper for you.

And the technology is the part that is getting to me right now.  Currently I ride with my Polar RCX5 + cadence sensor. It keeps track of my heart rate and cadence while indoors.  Outdoors it has a GPS which allows me to track my speed and distance.  I am currently looking at getting the speed sensor for it so that I can find out the speed and distance that I am doing indoors as I feel the motivation to ride harder may be higher if I can see actual results.  I don't really count the unit as an expense because I had it before I started doing triathlons.  I do count the accessories as an expense.  The cadence sensor was $50 and the speed sensor would be another $50.  If you are looking to add this to your Garmin you can buy a cadence/speed sensor for $40.  These are small expenses, but I have avoided them because I have also been looking at the Garmin 910XT.


Or the Garmin 505 Bike computer.

These both have pretty big price tags, but I know I want something to help me on my 100 mile bike rides this summer.

All these expenses are just additional things I felt were necessary to purchase in order to have a successful triathlon season.  If I were planning on doing a sprint triathlon, I would not have invested so much money.  I did a sprint last year and it was so fast that I don't think the extras made that much of a difference.  Since I am training for an Ironman I have put extra money into it including a monthly check to my coach, but I know it is a good investment.  I cut down on other expenses this year in order to make this work.  (Including reducing my races.  I used to spend $50/month on races and this year I am only signed up for Lake Placid and the Boston Marathon.)  Sure, I am looking forward to post-Ironman training when I can relax a little bit, but I am having a BLAST and I know that come July this will all be worth it.

14 comments:

Colleen Lasko said...

Not to mention the price for triathlons is a lot higher than road races. An Ironman vs. a Marathon is like a $500 differece! These expenses are one of the reasons I'm taking this year off. :) Good luck with your training!

Kelly B said...

It's crazy to think how much money can go into these things. I also have a Cannondale bike - mine is a hybrid and I don't triathalon (at least not yet) but I do love my bike.

Amanda Loudin said...

Ohhh--I need some new bike shorts and those look great. And I hate to say it, but $60 for cycling shorts isn't too bad (I've bought the expensive PI ones before, yikes). Yes, it's a crazy expensive sport. And when you go to races, it seems that everyone has nicer stuff than yours, too, which is insane! Let's not even get into race fees...

Bill Hurley said...

I agree. After buying 2 bikes (3 if I count my wife's road bike so we can ride together) wetsuit, Garmin 910 and edge 500 and everything else. It adds up fast, but boy is it addicting. I based my whole race season on TRi's this year. You are going to have a great season Robin.

Scott said...

Saw your blog via the Brooks ID FB page, we are doing an ironman the same day, different countries, I think that is pretty cool.



I am always looking for a good deal, like you, I have a middle class income. We dont need all the latest and greatest gadgets. THe longer I am in this sport, the less I want, because we actually just dont need it. They are just luxury items.



Looking forward to following your IM journey

robinbn said...

Yeah, the price of the race is the main reason why I don't get to race as much as I would like to this year. Sadly. :)

robinbn said...

You will love triathlons if you give them a try. I highly recommend Danskin for a great beginner women's tri.

robinbn said...

You will love those shorts. I was shocked how comfortable they were compared to the shorts I purchased last summer for much more.

robinbn said...

I am so excited to see how your season goes as well. And I really want to get the edge 500, what do you think of it?

robinbn said...

What Ironman are you doing?

Axel Kussmann said...

I'm glad you mention that the investment is somewhat proportional to the intensity of the goals. For Ironman, you want a better bike and overall equipment, but you can coast by for Sprints and Olympics with simpler (i.e. cheaper gear). Another cost that people seem to feel compelled to incur is coaching, master's swim groups etc. Triathlon is a solo sport... you can simply go out and practice and train yourself. It's going to be your butt hurting as you cross the finish line. I'm not trying to slam those that make use of these things, it's just the more the perception exists that paying for these extras is the norm, the more the sport seems inaccessible.

AmyC said...

One thing we know is that if we are willing to thoughtfully spend a good amount of money, it proves our passion!

Laura @ Mommyrunfast said...

I've amazed by how expensive triathlons are... and like you said, you can practically see the wealth in most of the participants! I'm glad you got some good deals along the way. The gear is one of the biggest things holding me back from doing more tris!

Gina Bhawalkar said...

I hear you! I did my first triathlon last summer (after buying my first ever road bike in the spring) and couldn't believe how much all the gear was. It's not like just throwing on your running shoes and heading out the door! :) It was all worth it though to challenge myself in a new way.