So, on the agenda - triathlon gear. I realized last week as I was packing for my marathon race that MOST of my athletic apparel can be considered 'tri' specific. As a comparison I have about 8 pairs of triathlon shorts (really just spandex with a little chamois on the inside) and a grand total of 3 pairs of running shorts. Granted, of those 8 pairs of tri shorts I only have 1 or 2 'racing' pairs. The same is true for running shorts - I only have 1 pair that I race in. BUT... my POINT and what I was thinking as I was packing was - why can't my tri shorts be running shorts - they are during my tri training?
Naturally I immediately jumped on the idea and proceeded to pack about 4 pairs of tri shorts to either run in during my week down in Phoenix OR race in on Saturday. You never know what outfit will suit the day. Of course the packing included the Newton kit I got back in August - it worked for me through 140.6 miles... why not 26.2? By the way, I'm still waiting for a Newton endorsement and the chance to represent them in Kona... .... ...
Obviously (given the picture I just posted the other day) I didn't end up wearing tri shorts but my point is that I COULD! And here's why I 'would' (and almost did) in bullet form:
- Elastic leg grips keep the shorts in place - leading to less chaffing as you run.
- Spandex material keep the shorts in place - leading to less chaffing as you run (I'm sensing a theme). Yes, there are several 'running' short options that are spandex material but I have to say that most of those are bootie shorts which I'm not totally comfortable sporting in a race.
- Spandex material CAN be flattering (this is sort of irrelevant but thought I'd point it out).
- More coverage - tri shorts are usually longer than your typical running short in case you're worried about that. See the second bullet point.
- Really nice tri shorts (like the Newtons/Louis Garneau pair that I'm wearing above) have a high waist and don't have a drawstring. Drawstrings, after 26.2 miles tend to bruise me so I like shorts without drawstrings.
- Side pockets that fit snug to the body for storing gel packets.
- Compression. Many tri shorts tout compression capabilities - better blood flow which can prevent the onset of cramping and delay muscle fatigue. I don't know how 'good' these shorts are because I haven't tested any of them BUT they can't hurt.
- No inner liner! I really dislike running short liners and the pair that I wear during races don't have a liner.
Now onto tops. Athletic tops are pretty universal. I've noticed that tri specific tops, however, usually have back pockets similar to cycling jerseys whereas any pockets found in running tops are usually zippered and located on the side - more something to store ID, keys, or an iPod instead of multiple gels, Cliff bars, or an entire gel flask. Another important difference between tri and running tops would be the material. Tri tops tend to wick water much better since they are typically worn IN the water first. Some tend to be almost swimsuit like.
Take, for example, the Orca top I wore for the race this past weekend - it has two pockets in the back where I could easily have stored my gel flask and the swimsuit like material kept me cool as the temperatures increased throughout the race, drying almost immediately when sweaty. The conclusion - tri tops are pretty superior.
- Higher coverage in front (to keep everything in while bent over during the bike portion of a tri) - in case this is important to you.
- Different material that wicks water faster.
- Rear pockets to stash all of your possessions.
- Usually a built in bra-top since it's a top that you'd wear for swimming, biking and running without changing in between. Please note that these tend to suck which is why I still wear a sports bra BUT it has potential to be a good thing.
Focus on the rear pockets folks!
So my point, if there actually was one - triathlon tops and bottoms can be worn for running... running tops and bottoms can't be worn for triathlon (or at least not 'well' and not for the entire race). Logic would suggest that triathlon apparel is more universal. Looks like my next shopping spree will be here or here or... here (since we no longer have a local tri shop) instead of here and potentially here. But in reality I like all athletic apparel so whatever strikes my fancy is probably going to end up in my dresser - regardless of it's designated sport.