First things first, if you have no idea what an Ironman is, let's break it down real quick. An Ironman is a long-distance triathlon race that consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a full marathon 26.2-mile run, raced in that order and with no breaks. Sounds tough, right? Yeah, we couldn't agree more. It's a battle for the toughest of the tough. So to race an Ironman, you must be fully prepared from head to toe. Check out the gear you need to race an Ironman, or any triathlon, below.


Table of Contents

1. First Race Phase
1.1. Triathlon Shorts
1.2. Triathlon Suit
1.3. Swim Cap
1.4. Swim Goggles
2. Second Race Phase
2.1. Rest Handlebars
2.2. Cycling Shoes
2.3. Helmet
2.4. Sunglasses
3. Final Race Phase
3.1. Running Shoes


First Race Phase

Ironman swim start


Stepping up to the start line, and diving into the water. You'll want to consider what you want to wear for the swim, which may result in what you wear for the entire race. You can choose to change clothes with each leg of the race or stay in the same gear the whole way through. Some triathletes do the whole race in a swimsuit for faster transitions. Others will change or add on to their suit.

Triathlon Shorts

Triathlon shorts

These Tri Shorts work well for all 3 legs of the race. If you choose to wear just a suit during the swim portion, these shorts are great for right after. They're easy to throw on after the swim to help with chafing during the cycling or running portions of the race.

Triathlon Suit

Triathlon suit

This Tri Suit (also comes with sleeves) is great because it increases buoyancy and reduces drag. If you're interested in wearing the Tri Shorts above, this suit might be the best way to go so there's no need to change out of the water.

Swim Cap

Swim cap


For those who aren't blessed with a bald head, a swim cap is great to reduce drag. If your head of hair isn't too thick, shoot for a latex cap. These may be less durable, but because they're thinner they stay cooler and reduce drag. For the heavy-haired pals, a Silicone or Lycra cap is great for strength to hold in all that volume with no fuss.

Swim Goggles

rec spec shark swim goggle

Shop Rec Specs Shark Swim Goggles

For obvious reasons, goggles are a must during the swim portion of the Ironman. During your training, you can wear tinted lens color goggles like the Rec Specs Shark Swim Goggles above. Their yellow tint is great for indoor pools because they eliminate the reflecting blue from the pool. However, when it's race time. shoot for a clear goggle so you have clear vision and there's no change of colors in the ocean waters.

Second Race Phase

triathlon cycling leg


Right out of the water you'll be heading for your bike. This is when you can choose to add on or take off clothes for the rest of the race. As far as the biking course goes, naturally you'll need a bike. Most types of bikes (mountain, road, or triathlon-specific) will work for this portion. Below you'll find gear to wear for the bike leg of the Ironman race.

Rest Handlebars

rest handlebars


Because this leg of the race is a good time to "rest," these handlebars are great to get in some recovery time. Rest handlebars allow you to do just that. You'll want to rest your arms after putting in so much effort from the swim and save them for the running portion. The bike race is also a great time to refuel.

Cycling Shoes

cycling shoes


Cycling shoes will give you more power and strength than regular shoes. Though you will have to change off the bike into proper running shoes, choosing cycling shoes that click into the pedals will give you the best power for this portion. Try for a pair that has 1 to 2 velcro straps. This will give you a faster transition time and make for a seamless switch when you get out of the water and after your ride.


bike helmet

Safety first, friends. Really, any helmet will work for you because it's meant for your safety. So if you like a certain style of one helmet, then wear that. If you're looking for the best cycling helmet, shoot for an aerodynamic helmet that has plenty of vents so your head doesn't overheat.


Our sweet spot. You'll want to replace your sim goggles with sunglasses. They'll block debris, block wind, and help prevent UV rays and glare during your ride. Shoot for a pair that has interchangeable lenses so in case the weather the day of the race is different than your training days you can switch accordingly. To be safe and save time, go for photochromic lenses that transition from light to dark given the weather conditions. These sunglasses are also lightweight and versatile enough to wear during the run too.

For interchangeable lenses:

Oakley Jawbreaker

oakley jawbreaker

Shop Oakley Jawbreaker

For photochromic lenses:

Rudy Project Stratofly

Rudy Project Stratofly

Shop Rudy Project Stratofly

Final Race Phase

marathon running leg triathlon


The run is the most minimalist portion of the race. You've already loaded on enough miles and endured a lot thus far; this is your time to strip everything off and go for the finish line. So really, all you need is a great pair of running shoes.

Running shoes

running shoes


Because the shoe is the only support you really need for this leg of the race, you'll want a pair that provides you with all the benefits you'll need to finish this race. You'll want to have equal support for your feet and ankles, that also aids your knees and is lightweight enough to carry you along the 26.2 miles. This Nike Epic Flyknit 2 is a great choice for all the above reasons.

All in all, if you've made the bold decision to race Ironman, then all you really need is that continued determination and fuel for your fire. Equally, enjoy and hate every moment of an Ironman and know that you are one bada$$ athlete. Good luck crossing that finish line!


finishing Ironman triathlon