Holiday Gift Ideas

With the holidays upon us I thought I’d take a stab at some gift suggestions for the significant triathlete in your life, or to offer suggestions to your significant other to help them out. Being three sport athletes we seem to need a lot of gear and are always looking for some new way to go faster. The way I see it triathletes fall into three distinct categories when it comes to the amount of gear they own.

  1. The first category is those that are recently new to the sport, they are pretty much lacking most things or are using hand me downs from their friends; they’re the easy ones to buy for.
  2. The second category has been at it for a while, has made a pass at acquiring all the gear they’ve needed to race, but maybe they’re due for upgrades to some of the more basic pieces of equipment. Buying something for them is going to start costing some money, unless you’re smart and see a hole in their equipment list.
  3. The last group, well these are the grizzled veterans of the sport (or those that have more money than sense…) and have upgraded everything they have ever bought and are just waiting for something to wear out, break, or be superseded by some new gizmo that guarantees they’ll be X number of seconds faster per mile if they buy it. Forget about buying them anything, they know exactly what they want to buy next, so just let them be. I’ll ignore their needs for now, focusing on the first two groups, the low hanging fruit on the tree.

For the Swimmer I suggest:

  • Paddles, a great tool for “occasional” use in the pool to strengthen your shoulders by offering more resistance in the water, and to train your hand entry and catch
  • Fins, another great tool for “occasional” use, use these during your kick sets to strengthen your legs. Try kicking on your back, hands streamlined behind your head, and kicking hard, a great core workout as well
  • Note, I mention for “occasional” use because overusing paddles can lead to injury, and secondly your lane mates will appreciate the fact that you’re working as hard as them to complete the set, without the aid of paddles or fins. Having said that, anyone over 60 or 65 can do what they please.
  • Goggles, new color/tint and/or new style. Now’s the chance to try those blue or orange lenses, or maybe a different type, with a different type of sealant material or size to fit your face better
  • New bathing suit, some athletes will swim in what looks like brown suits, when they started out, a long time ago, some “other” color, time to move on
  • Video swim analysis, watching Michael Phelps or some other very fast swimmer on YouTube is not the same as watching yourself on a video. You think you know what a good swimmer looks like and that you are doing exactly what they’re doing, but I hate to break the news to you sunshine, it just ain’t so. Seeing yourself swim for the first time is a real eye opener, you’ll be a better swimmer for it. Connect with one of your local swim coaches to see if they offer this service

For the uber-biker I propose:

  • Handlebar tape, spice up the look of an old bike or replace the well warm tape with something new
  • Winter arm warmers, knee warmers, leg warmers, headbands or skull caps, for those high 30’s/low 40’s mornings on the bike.
  • Long fingered gloves, why suffer with cold hands until the half-way point of your ride? No reason, with many options for glove weights out there
  • Long sleeve cycling jersey, for the athlete that gets cold and stays cold and never takes their arm warmers off, go with a long sleeve jersey which tends to have more lining then arm warmers. Again, why be cold when the gear is out there for you to buy?
  • Helmet, have you crashed, whacked your head, and not replaced your helmet ever? Is your helmet more than say five years old? Time for a new skid lid
  • Sunglasses, been wearing the same-old-same-old glasses for a while? Don’t have a pair that is impact resistant to ward off errant rocks thrown your way? New sunglasses are the ticket
  • New tires, new make, color, or new width. Wider width tires, beyond the standard 700×23 are out there for you to try. If you’d like to try something different, a little more comfortable ride, with a small weight penalty, try these out. For the athlete that likes to color coordinate their bike and kit, how about a tire in a matching color? For pretty much everything you wanted to know about the different types of tires and performance levels out there, try slowtwitch.com, search for tire reviews and read on.
  • Professional bike fit, if you’ve never had a bike fit or are looking to tweak your position, check out your local bike shop or coach to see what services they offer. Having another set of eyes look at your position on the bike could save you minutes during a race.
  • New computer (head unit), $200 and up, ANT+ compatible (for HRM and power meter displays)
  • Power meter, $700 and up. Yeah, now we’re getting pricey, but this is as cheap as you can go for a power meter. Also realize that once you spring for this tool you’ll need to step up your training to actually use the data. If you don’t, then it’s a lot of money to spend just to see how many watts you’re putting out, just another line of data on your computer.

And for the runners:

  • Race number belt, nobody should be safety pinning their numbers to their jerseys
  • Fuel belt, for your longer training runs without aid stations near by
  • New “cool” hat, something to keep the sun off your face, while helping to cool you down, wicking sweat away
  • New running outfit, who doesn’t like new running shorts and singlet’s/tops?
  • Running shoes, even the best shoes only last so long, is it time for a new pair?
  • HRM, every “serious” athlete should be training with HR as a guide, at the minimum, else you really can’t tell how hard the body is working. Veterans in the sport may have it dialed in, but not the newbies. HRMs without GPS are cheaper, but I like having pace to help guide me on my runs, so I’d opt to spring for that feature
  • Note: the go-to website for any and all information on HRMs, GPS devices, cycling computers is Ray at dcrainmaker.com. He also submits stores on slowtwitch.com under Ray’s Mailbag.

Obviously this is not an all inclusive list, but hopefully you’ll see something that you weren’t thinking about and you (or the triathlete in your life) can pick out something to put under the tree. I see that Triathlete magazine just came out with their gift list, as has Active.com, and I imagine that Inside Triathlon has done the same, so check theses out for more details on gift ideas as well.

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