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My First Tri: What in the &#^! Do I Wear?

I am proud to have provided triathlon suits for
women in sizes XS to 4XL for over five years through Tri*Fe…
Tri*Fe closed its online store in December of 2018.
Thanks for a great run everyone!

Starting out, the biggest triathlon clothing mystery is Race Day Clothing (insert scary music here!).

What in the world do you wear on race day?

It’s the burning question. But there is a secret that will help you and it’s like a lightbulb.  Are you ready? Here goes!

Find ONE thing to wear (it’s called a tri suit or kit – more later on this).

Here’s what you do:

Put it on before the swim. Then… you will Swim.  You will bike.  And you will run.  You will pick up your medal and post-race snacks. And then take it off when you get home.

(Are you confused yet?)

Okay, here’s the scoop.

In a triathlon – you want to wear what is called a triathlon suit or a triathlon kit (a top/bottom combo) designed to be worn in the swim, the bike and finally the run.  In other words, you do not take it off!


With the exception of the wetsuit (if needed), you need not put on any other piece of clothing.

This also means that you need not take any clothing off. You wear your wetsuit (if needed) on top of your triathlon suit/kit. After the swim, you strip off the wetsuit, put on your helmet and cycling shoes and are ready to go.  You are wearing your triathlon suit/kit underneath. You should never (ever) show your goodies in transition area. Ever. Ever.


See? The triathlon suit is UNDER the wetsuit.^^^

A triathlon suit/kit is typically made of a moisture-wicking material and has a small pad in the short for cycling. The  pad is thin, unlike the thick chamois pad for cycling, so you will want to spend some time on your bike wearing it ahead of time in order to get the Queen accustomed to less padding.

(The Queen is the SBM term for your lady parts! Read this if you need to know about the Queen.)

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The thin pad in the tri short allows the Queen’s Castle to dry much more quickly and not take on water like a diaper.

When you finish your swim, you will be soaking wet, this is true.

But within a few minutes on the bike, you will find yourself dry. By the time you get to the run, you will not be thinking about your wet hair. This is the true beauty of the triathlon suit/kit. You will start out hating it, but eventually, you will love it.

Watch a video on YouTube of the Ironman World Championships on YouTube and you’ll get the idea of what people are wearing. Now. Those people are particularly fit and wearing very tiny outfits, but the idea is the same.

A challenge is finding triathlon clothing that you love.

I have found that people will go through two or three suits/kits until they find “the” one they love.

I’ve been through about… 6,000.

Oh, 6001, I mean.  In fact,

I have gone through SO many, that I finally designed my own! Seriously. It’s a tough problem!   I am proud to have provided triathlon suits for women in sizes XS to 4XL for over five years through Tri*Fe… Tri*Fe closed its online store in December of 2018.  


An even bigger challenge arises if you are a size 12 or larger, in the world of tri clothing.

When I first posted this article in 2011, there were very few companies that had anything for the larger girls. But companies are starting to realize that ladies aren’t all a size 4, and some brands are expanding.

For the ladies sizes M to 4XL (Sizes 6-24), I recommend starting with Tri*Fe. These are true-to-size, which makes shopping so much easier.

In addition, you can check out Louis Garneau gear or Aero Tech Designs online.  Louis Garneau also makes triathlon clothing up to a XXL women’s (available on

Additionally, you may want to cross over into men’s tri wear check out  I have found the menswear provides greater coverage and more flexibility. I could barely ever squeeze into traditional women’s tri clothing, but I often find that an XL or 2XL men’s suit will do the trick, and really looks just fine.

What if you cannot find anything to fit you (or that you would want to wear in public)? First of all, remember the Slow Fat Triathlete wisdom: do not care about what you look like when you are moving. Worrying about how you look will undermine your goal. That being said, I understand.

You may think, I cannot wear this horrible looking triathlon suit. But you better do it, because if you are wearing something different, you will stand out much more than you would have imagined.

Triathlon Suit: One Piece

Many manufacturers make a one piece triathlon suit. Now there are “aero” suits, which are one-pieces with sleeves.

Regardless, the one-piece (whether sleeveless or aero) is typically a one-piece zip in the front or the rear number that fits like a swimsuit with shorts. A tri suit will include a thin chamois pad. I like the one-piece suits because you do not have to worry about the top riding up and showing your belly. I also find that the one piece compression suits “hold in” some of my jiggles.

The biggest negative I see about a one piece suit is the difficulty to get in and out of for bathroom purposes. But once you learn how to pee on the move, you don’t have to worry about that. Yes, I’m sorry, it’s true.

Triathlon Suit: Two Piece

Two pieces suits are the most common deal on a race course. If they are matchy and have team logos, they are often called “triathlon kits”.  Like the Swim Bike Mom one in the photos.


Cheers! You’re a triathlete! We wear Spandex!!

These are tougher to find ones you love because they can roll down or ride up or chafe or whatever.  But once you find ones that work, I think the two-piece is preferable for using the potty. 🙂

That being said, you can go to the bathroom much easier with two-pieces… and mix tops and bottoms, which is nice.

The question of one-piece or two-piece is simply a matter of personal preference.

Do It Yourself Triathlon Clothing 

Say you have fitted wicking racer-back tank that you love and want to wear in the race.

If you have this top, you can always purchase a separate short to wear and Voila! You will have a self-made tri suit.  

Keep in mind, however, that you will want to buy a triathlon short, not a cycling short. The cycling short will hold too much water during the swim (think: swim diaper). The triathlon short has a thin pad, made to wear during the entire race: swim, bike and run. It will not hold water and will dry quickly.

What Do I Wear …Under?

I wear a sports bra under my tri suit/kit. I can’t imagine not wearing a uniboob holder, but that is a personal option.

If your Girls are small and your suit has a built-in bra, then you may be good to go. Keep in mind, that while we do not care about what we look like while tri-ing, that you are racing in what is essentially a wet t-shirt contest – if you are wearing white, you might be giving a show. Again, we don’t technically care what we look like. But open boobness may be something to consider.

On race day, do not wear underwear. Your underwear will not dry and you will end up with saddle sores on the Queen. Be nice to the Queen.


Triathlon Clothing Do’s and Don’ts

Wear your sports bra under your top during the swim if you have boobies bigger than a table top. Some tops may have built in sports bras, but seriously, unless you are a size 0, these can look horrific. Just put on your sports bra and forget about it.

Do not wear a “real” bra anywhere near this race. Certainly do not wear it to the swim start as your triathlon top. (I have seen this, or I would not write about it.)

It’s best not to wear a one-piece swimsuit unless you have a tri short over it and intend to wear it the entire race. This actually can be a decent “do it yourself” tri kit if it’s played well. However, the swimsuit and the short can be extra ammunition for chafing on the bike and run. If you are the type of Wonder Woman who can wear a swimsuit for the whole race, then I applaud you! (But if you haven’t done it, I don’t recommend it.)

Do not change clothes in transition. This is considered a newbie move and you will stand out like a sore thumb.  Find an outfit you can put on at the race start and take off after the finish. One caveat: in the beginning, I would put on a t-shirt over my tri suit to run. I felt more comfortable that way.  In hindsight, I looked a tiny bit out of place, but I felt better.

Sometimes you need to take care of your inner scaredy cat in order to finish this great sport!


Bear in mind that if you are a size 20 or higher, you might be treading into unisex sizing land outside of a few brands such as Tri*Fe which goes up to 4xl.  Sometimes the men’s suits are just going to fit better due to sheer sizing issues.  Same goes for wetsuits.

Try and practice in your suit well in advance of your race. Wear it to open water, cycling and running.  Make sure you like the fit because a clothing malfunction or discomfort on race day is a mess. says, “From smallest to largest (Size 16 or XXL to Size 26), search for your apparel from retailers in this order: Zoot, Sugoi and Pearl Izumi; Danskin, Moving Comfort, and New Balance; and Terry Bicycles, Nike, Aerotech Designs and Junonia.”

Caveat:  This post is written with a “first triathlon” or a sprint distance in mind.

For what to wear for Ironman and longer distances races, I have what I did on this post.  Others still apply the “one outfit” rule.  But they are typically very fast.

Oh and don’t forget your sunglasses! 🙂



  • Mary

    July 16, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    TYR has tri suits, too. I’m a solid 12-14 and their XL ladies tri suit (the low end model) fits great and is comfy. Check their sale page.

  • Lindsey

    July 16, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    Man, I needed this last year! I was totally that girl swimming in just a Speedo and STRUGGLING to pull on a sports bras and bike shorts on top in T1. This year, I’ve got the tri shorts (Danskin XL) and the fitted, wicking run top. I originally purchased a woman’s XL tri top, but definitely had the role issues during the first bike/run brick I tried it out on. So makeshift tri kit for my only tri this year it is!

    I just today advised a tri newbie to wear her sports bra under her sw suit and pull her bike shorts (or other shorts) on in T1. Thankfully, the tri we are doing is a sprint designed for beginners and there will be plenty others doing the same. Wish I had thought to do the sports bra under the speedo last year!

  • Laurel

    July 16, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    I wouldn’t say “larger than a size 10” for Pearl Izumi. I’m a solid 10/12 and I wear a M, L or XL in women’s from their store depending on the item and cut. I also regularly buy men’s clothing from their store and like the fit.

  • Melissa

    July 16, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    This is so great! I’m going to send this to a couple of friends who are just getting started in tris. I was fortunate to be given a tri kit before I ever did a tri, so I had that as a start. I am super small, and now that I am not nursing anymore, I have no boobs. That said, I still have a lot of trouble with zippers on the front of tri kits. I find they chaf like crazy! I did my first tri in a bathing suit+ tri shorts. I have trouble with tops that drag if they are too loose or have too slouchy pockets. Swimming is my weakness, so I avoid anything that makes it worse. Also, if you order anything from zoot, their inseam is measured from the middle of the crotch, not where the leg starts. This is how I ended up with shorts that are pretty much booty shorts, because I didn’t realize the width of the pad was included in the length of the short. Maybe I just don’t know the garment industry, but the 4 in zoot short is TINY!!!!!

  • Connie

    July 16, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    this cracked me up!!!! My friends told me about a tri suite so I was thankful. The first time I put it on I about died, it was too small. BUT lost weight before the race and it fit OK.

  • Katie

    July 16, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    Great article! I also wish I had this info before my first tri. Question: Are you saying that the picture of you in the blue top is a “Yikes” picture? That is the hottest race picture I have ever seen! Christina Hendricks would have a tough time looking that good getting out of a pool!

  • Txcristen

    July 16, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    I have a TYR tri-suit which I love. I am a 10-12. Its black mostly with white and lavender lines that cut in just the right places so most of my pics look good. That can’t be said for many other pics of me in races, especially getting out of the water!! Why does the photographer have to get that drowned-rat look on all of us?? I actually paid the high cost of one swim professional photo I looked pretty good in, with water splashing around my feet in just the right way, from the Trek Women’s Tri a few years ago here in Austin.

  • BeachMama

    July 16, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    Also, I wear an Enell bra under my tri top. I find it dries relatively quickly and there is NO running without it. I’d give myself black eyes. LOL! I have the Danskin tri shorts and a men’s Orca top. The arm holes are larger, but I have a bra on anyway so I don’t need the women’s shelf bra.
    I also shared this on the Jersey Girl Triathlon page. That is our newbie tri at the Jersey shore. Lots of first timers! Thanks!!

  • Patti

    July 17, 2012 at 7:39 am

    TYB in Decatur, GA (also known as Decatur Bikes) has an awesome staff that will help you get your tri suit. Dave is a great guy and his store is awesome!

  • Alyssa @ Don't Look Down

    July 17, 2012 at 9:58 am

    I have Zoot tri shorts and a 2XU tri top (new purchase for this year) And I always wear a bra underneath my tri top! My friend has a tri suit and doesn’t wear a bra with it (it doesn’t have a built in bra either) which I think is ridiculous but she is pretty small.
    Best advice is to practice all 3 events in the outfit first! That way you can figure out if it will work and/or where you will need to apply Body Glide or lube to not chaff!

    • Cali

      October 27, 2014 at 5:12 am

      Zoot tri shorts and suits are excellent and are a good investment for your race.

      Wearing a bra when need is smart. I agree on the ridiculous in not wearing a sports bra when the suit does not offer any support at all; not even a shelf type liner. A newbie to tri sports that I ran alongside with for a number of miles during one race made a comment that she wished she had worn a bra under her one piece suit. She seemed to be like a B-cup in size. The bounce was getting to her.

  • Diane

    July 17, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Sports bra for ladies with big girls? I’m assuming for tri purposes and soaking wet chafing worries that not all sports bras work well for this purpose? Do people have favorites?

  • Scott

    July 17, 2012 at 10:21 am

    Signed up for my first triathlon in about 5 weeks. Need to go to and try some of these items on before then – looking forward to this new challenge.

    I have been running for a couple of years and start riding to help cross-train. The swim will be the difficult part; but it is a shorter distance and will be working on it till the event.

    My concern is also how I will be looking in the gear and everyone judging me, but enjoy hearing your opinion that at least I will be out there doing something.

    I typically wear an XL and size 38-40 waist – I am not the biggest, but definetly not the typcial person out there.

    Going to try a couple of the shorter distances this fall and see how it goes and then may make the big jump next year.

  • Carolyn @HealthKitten

    July 17, 2012 at 10:55 am

    I had good luck with a large Pearl Izumi SELECT tri suit (that I got for SUPER CHEAP…$35!!) when I did my tri and I’m most definitely a 12/14 in size.

    Regarding cover-ups: I had a Brooks running skort that didn’t work well as a running skort* as my coverup for the run. Since I had to switch from my bike shoes to running shoes anyway, it was easy to slip it on over my suit and I felt more comfortable running with that rather than just the tri suit on its own.

    * the liner short didn’t stay in place and I ended up with a bunched-up diaper under the skirt…not to mention some nasty chafing. I run in nothing but Skirt Sports now! 🙂

    • Swim Bike Mom

      July 17, 2012 at 11:12 am

      I’m interested in trying the Pearl Izumi again… now that everyone says they fit 12/14, etc… I had NO luck with that, but I will re-try and give you guys the benefit of my doubting face. 🙂 LOL!

      • Carolyn @HealthKitten

        July 17, 2012 at 1:59 pm

        Well, it does sound like you really love the Aero Tech suits…so stick with what works! My only requirements when I bought mine was 1) cheap and 2) one piece. It definitely was a pain in the ass to go to the bathroom before the race, but it was great not having to tug down a top constantly.

      • Donna

        July 17, 2012 at 2:30 pm

        I just got some PI shorts and Jersey (on sale at Amazon). I’m a solid 14/16. The top was fine (I bought from their “Elite” line. I think their “Select” line runs a tad bigger). The shorts were really low rise, but they did fit. I bought the recent jersey and shorts after trying their Tri Jersey offered in their “Select” line (that’s how I know it runs a tad larger than the Elite items). Man, that read confusing. Sorry! Hope you got that! LOL

  • Lisa

    July 17, 2012 at 11:00 am

    Diane, I’d like to know about quick drying sports bras too. I have been relying on the shelf bra in my danskin and garneaus but I think a sports bra is a better option.

  • sugarmagnolia70

    July 17, 2012 at 11:04 am

    What do you suggest for a 70.3? I’m doing my first in September, and really want my real bike shorts for the bike ride, and NEED my compression shorts for the run (sciatic nerve pain, etc). Thinking about wearing my compression shorts under the wetsuit, then pulling the bike shorts over them for the ride, then pulling a running skirt over them for the run. Thoughts?

    • Swim Bike Mom

      July 17, 2012 at 11:15 am

      I think all bets are off once you wander into 70.3 and 140.6 land… I think changing clothes (or adding clothes) would be more understandable in a 70.3, and I think it’s common in an IM.

  • EmJay

    July 17, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Thanks for the info and the push. I just ordered a 2 piece tri suit from Aero Tech. I have a sprint tri on the 28th and was not happy with my wardrobe choices at this point. I’ve wasted a lot of money on trying to find the right fit from the local sporting goods stores and it hasn’t really worked. I’m looking forward to getting something that should fit a bit better.

    • Swim Bike Mom

      July 17, 2012 at 12:50 pm

      I hope it works out with the two piece suit…I am CRAZY about the one piece Aero Tech suit, but not as much the two piece…

  • stephanie

    July 17, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    Looking at shorts they come with different inseams. What inseams do you find you like best? I am assuming the longer ones.

  • Heather Harrison

    July 17, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    I am so grateful for this post! I cannot share enough how much you inspire and motivate me to get up and keep moving forward! I neeeeeeded to know what to wear and was contemplating putting a shirt over the mess I look like in my tri gear :0). Now however I will just tough it out and not pay any attention to what I look like!

  • Danielle

    July 17, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    So glad you addressed wearing a sports bra under your top for the swim portion! It’s one of the things I’ve been wondering about…sounds uncomfortable for the swim but I guess I’ll have to give it a try.

    I’m a new reader and hoping to start training for a tri, your blog and e-book have been so helpful! So glad I found it!

    • Ann

      July 18, 2012 at 1:20 pm

      As for the 70.3 question, I have never seen a changing tent. Although at 140.6’s there are. If you wear your tri kit shorts on your training ride, that might help. Also, maybe your bike fit should be checked if you are having to depend on the larger chamois.

  • Shannon Truax

    August 8, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Okay, so let’s say you don’t have a tri-suit and you wear your one peice swimsuit….can you just slip on your regular cycling shorts over it and jump on the bike? Will the wetness from the swimsuit be too much moisture and turn the chamois into a diaper? What about drying off a little first with a towel…rookie move?

    • Swim Bike Mom

      August 8, 2012 at 2:19 pm

      I have seen people do this. I always feel weird seeing a person in a one-piece swimsuit at the swim start… maybe it’s more common… but I just like the shorts on, at all times. Plus, putting on bike shorts is very tough wet. I do think it’s a little “rookie”.. but at the same time, I see pros wearing nothing BUT a swimsuit style the ENTIRE race, so…. if you are comfortable with the swimsuit and that works best for you – you do what is best for you.

  • carie vercelli

    August 16, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    i do not own a tri-suit and know not to wear my bike shorts, is it nightmarish to bike without padding for a race? I not looking too forward to that! They should invent a pad you can just velcro into your shorts just for the bike portion! haha

  • Chatter

    March 12, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    I know this is an older post, and I am male, but I love it. I am getting ready to do my first triathlon soon and I am still big (come down from 365 two years ago to 300) and found it difficult to find clothing to fit. When I tried a tri top it was tight but breathable. Mostly my inner insecurity over the thing not functioning. So in a few weeks off to my first race with a top that is the farthest thing from flattering to my remaining belly. Thank you for your post…

  • Sandra

    June 13, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    Hey, we have very similar body types, so reading this is awesome and seeing your photographs and you happy–even better!!!
    I would definitely add: DO NOT BUY MEN’S TRI CLOTHING!! Why?
    1. their butts are shaped differently–the shorts will only come up to (barely) your butt crack
    2. they don’t have boobs (although some skinny triathletes really don’t either), so when you put on the tritop the boobs push out the top of the shirt so it acts as a CATCH ALL in the water–too much open fabric at the neck will slow you down
    3. they generally have far longer torsos, so either you tuck in the tri top, or you pull it down to your quads, then watch it roll back up to your belly button. It just looks stupid.

    #3 is all I happen to have right now. I keep missing the danskin sales.

  • Louise

    August 21, 2013 at 11:06 am

    OMG thank you for this site – I’m in the UK and was panicking that I hadn’t thought through an impulse entry to a tri because weight-gain = two tri suits that no longer fit (and never looked that great in the first place).

    Just ordered a new suit off the Aero tech website – Thank you! 🙂

  • Jayme Downey

    September 12, 2013 at 10:31 am

    THANK YOU for this post! I am a very overweight woman and Ive ALWAYS wanted to try a Sprint Tri. I feel like the challenge will consume me and the comradery will inspire. That being said, Im a true BIG girl… 250 lbs… and have allowed shame and embarrassment to rule my life because Ive just let myself go. The thought of going to the gym to swim with all these fabulously healthy beautiful people is overwhelming. I have cottage cheese on top of my cottage cheese, know what I mean? Your post was a hilarious reminder not to give a flip of what other people think, and get back to feeling better about what I think. Ive had a tough time figuring out what to wear, and all this info in one place is a dream. I dont own a bike yet, and would be interested in your thoughts on a good starter bike… Hybrid? Straight to a road bike? I am a new fan of yours and cant wait to read through your past posts! THANK YOU! Im on the road to be a SBM!

    • mary o

      October 26, 2014 at 8:48 pm

      Do not let your appearances keep you from doing what makes you feel better and healthier! Remember, when you are out being active you are not at home eating and sitting around!
      I am petite, but that doesn’t mean I am fit-appearance are just that. I just starting running 6 months ago and am working on my first tri – hope to do it on my 53rd birthday!
      Congrats on doing your first tri!

    • Michelle

      August 7, 2015 at 11:51 am

      I am also a large lady! I have a sister who does IM and borrowed one of her bikes to start. I ended up buying a hybrid bike. The road bike killed my back and I figured it would be better to buy a bike I would actually enjoy riding. I know you can rent a road bike to try it out, but I have found if you are a bigger lady the hybrid is the way to go.

  • Carrie

    October 11, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    Hi-larious and helpful. Best advice I have found on the subject of tri clothes for women and I was laughing all the way through it. Thank you!

  • Colin

    October 22, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    Interesting that ladies wear men’s tri suits. I would actually like if they made an open-back suit for men (especially for hot weather). I’m sure it would perfectly legal for a man to wear a ladies suit with the open racer-back style? I

  • Jessi

    December 5, 2013 at 4:10 am

    Hi! I am so impressed by this write-up! Your enthusiasm is really inspiring, and you’ve offered all the really essential information (and the stuff I hadn’t even thought of) in a fun and very readable way. I can’t wait to get out there 😀

  • Beth

    December 29, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    I’m moving from distance-cycling to tris and have found myself overwhelmed and unsure about what I need and what I do (and absolutely embarrassed to ask! I mean, geez, to change or not to change? Do I really strip down? Somebody mentioned that and almost shut me down from the idea!!!). I really appreciate your straight-forwardness and encouraging attitude – I’m feeling better already 🙂 So, again, thanks.

    Now for some shopping!

    Keep rockin’!

  • Megan

    January 15, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    THANK YOU SO MUCH for posting this! I am training for my first Tri and I’m a *bigger* girl so I had NO IDEA what to wear and what to do with the girls! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • Taylor Simmons

    January 16, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    Just wondering you said Betty suits run small? I noticed your kits are from betty designs? What size would you recommend for someone who is about 5″5 175lbs? And is pretty curvy?

  • Suzie

    January 17, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    Can you wear a Tri suit in a pool for practice or are they only recommened for open water? I only have access to a pool for training and I am not sure if I should swim in a pool with the Tri suit on or invest in a Tri suit and a suit for the pool?

    • Swim Bike Mom

      January 20, 2014 at 3:08 pm

      I would get a swimsuit for practice because you’ll wear out the tri suit with the pool… certainly practice in it in the open water or the pool, though – but the chlorine or salt will wear out the material if used every day 🙂

  • diana

    February 21, 2014 at 3:32 am

    Great advice on the clothing. For shoes, can you run in tri shoes? they look uncomfortable. I haven’t tried any, but wanted to know if you change shoes for cycling and the run or no?

  • Jennifer

    February 25, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    Love your blog! I am in serious need of some advice. I am doing my fort sprint tri the end of March and the swim is in a pool and I will not be wearing a wet suit. What can I wear for all three without having a wet suit? Tri shorts? If so will they soak up water? Thank you for your amazing inspiration and blogging! Jen

  • Hannah

    February 27, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    Thanks for the tips! I am a runner but ready to take on my first tri! Awesome website and great inspiration 🙂 I am fairly short (umm like 5’1) but am pretty blessed in the chest area so my quest for a well fitting tri suit is challenging. I tried on mediums which I usually wear but they don’t fit my chest and anything bigger does not really fit the rest of my body. Any suggestions? I generally like the idea of a one-piece a lot better but maybe I should consider trying a 2 piece set
    Thanks! Hannah

  • David

    March 26, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Thanks for your post. Although obviously your advice is for women it helped me as well. I’m 5’7″ and 160 so I’m very much between small and medium size. 2 piece small would definitely expose my extra fuel tank. Attempting 1st Olympic Tri in June. Thanks again.

  • cavewoman

    April 23, 2014 at 7:41 am

    first of all, thanks so much to SBM for posting this! this post was a life-saver for me when i thought i had no hope of finding appropriate clothing for my first race, which is Saturday – YAY! I’m not the normal sized female triathlete (size 12/14), and the suits at the local stores were SO tight and made me feel like all my parts were in jail, so I have constructed my own two-piece kit with a pair of tri shorts (Pear Izumi brand) and a nice wicking shirt (Skirt Sports Girl brand). I’ve tried it and it works well for all the legs of the tri except that the shirt rides up when I run.

    Do any runners or triathletes have suggestions for how to keep my shirt from riding up when I run? It fits tight, so something that will hold the band to my shorts should help. I was thinking some double-sided tape, but I can’t imagine that will hold though the swim portion. I see now why people buy those sexy one-piece tri suits.. maybe for the next one!


  • Katie

    May 13, 2014 at 9:04 am

    Thank you for writing about this and sharing your experience. Your making this way less scary than it could be for me. THANK YOU!

  • Karin

    May 19, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    Great article – very helpful and highly entertaining. I’m in training for my first tri (Santa Cruz oly) – did an OW workshop in the San Francisco Bay last weekend (ooh! fun!) with my normal swimsuit underneath my lovely new wetsuit and found myself wondering what to do for the race – and yes therefore in training beforehand. Time to go shopping!

  • Tayler

    May 30, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    This was EXTREMELY helpful and made me feel MUCH better/more prepared for my first tri (very worried about finding the perfect outfit). Thanks so much — you’re great!:)

  • Missy

    June 14, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Wow! I just spent some time checking out your blog and I can’t tell you how encouraged I am by it! My husband has spent the past year getting in shape after his first exposure to triathlons, and will complete his first full ironman the end of June. I just signed up for my first sprint Tri and came across this post while trying to figure out what the heck I’m going to wear. (he says sprints are the gateway drug to all things iron man…we shall see). Anyway, just wanted to thank you for your candid info and let you know you have inspired me.

  • Maggie

    June 19, 2014 at 9:02 am

    I just signed up for my first sprint tri and am pretty nervous about it AND all the logistics that go with the whole “what do I wear issue”!!! Here’s my dilemma: I can no longer run without using a Poise Pad, so I was wondering how I can make that happen SMOOTHLY after the swim portion. Suggestions? I’m certainly not the only 50+ woman with this problem. Thanks for all the other posts as I’d otherwise have made a ton of rookie mistakes. 🙂

  • Alise

    July 4, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    Another big thank you!! I was shopping for tri gear and me and my “girls” were seriously concerned about trying to run with the sorry excuse for support built into all of the tri tops. Now I know… Running bra underneath. Brilliant. 🙂

  • Ruth

    July 20, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Okay, so I just registered for my first triathlon. I bought the tri bottoms, would just wearing a sports bra work? Omg, I can’t believe I’m gonna do this. Even thinking of just wearing a racer back top. Thoughts? Advice. I’m already freaking out.

  • sarah kemp

    July 31, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    great article! I’ve done tons of runs, and was a swimmer in my younger years and in high school. It’s hard to know how to dress for all 3 types of races!!

  • Maureen

    August 29, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    Thank you for this great info! I am about two weeks away from my first tri. Scared! But happy to read the great advice.

    I was AMAZED by how small the tri wetsuit sizing chart was. I am 5’10 and in good shape and weigh about 173. The sizing chart only went to 172!! Glad to see it is changing…

  • Jillian

    September 13, 2014 at 9:20 am

    Exactly what I needed to read, my first sprint tri is in less than a month! I’ve been wondering how to transition with a suit, thank you for explaining the whole “you’ll be dry after a few min on the bike” and about the suit’s pad. I was genuinely curious about exactly those two things!!

  • Sami

    December 28, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    You are so awesome! I’m transitioning from marathons to tri’s and have read tons of articles but none as specific and easy to follow as this one! I’ll go with the two piece tri kit! Thanks again!

  • Beth

    March 31, 2015 at 8:03 am

    Ooh, how embarrassing! I just saw my picture is in here and I’m totally rocking the “What Not to Wear” of triathlon–a one piece swimsuit (and I pulled on shorts after the swim)! Does this mean I win an all expense paid shopping spree of tri-wear and your expert fashion advice? In my defense, it was my first race and I signed up only one week before race day so I didn’t have much time to prepare. I promise to be properly dressed at the Tri Goddess Tri this year, Meredith!

  • Piknic

    September 20, 2015 at 4:29 am

    Awesome awesome awesome thank you so much for such an in depth and so very necessary run down for first time Tri person I really have no idea and this has given me everything I needed answering and so much more, I will be much more prepared thank you, now for some buying yay!

  • Sandi

    January 3, 2016 at 9:20 am

    Has anyone tried putting on a sports bra on top of tri suit after the swim? I don’t care what I look like and the idea of swimming with a bra under doesn’t thrill me!

  • Tiffany Gentile

    June 12, 2016 at 10:04 am

    I tired to use the discount code SBMFriend but it didn’t work, is there another one that might work? Looking at buying a full cycling kit. Thanks!

  • Christy

    July 14, 2016 at 6:06 am

    Dumb question. So a tri-kit is to be worn in the water and you don’t do anything except get on your bike and go?
    I’m a newbie (12 weeks postpartum too) and want to make my transitions short as my goal is to just finish 🙂

  • Amber

    July 20, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    This is soooo helpful!! I just registered for my first tri and found tons of beginner training programs but nothing about what to wear! Thank you!

  • Donna

    February 19, 2017 at 12:38 am

    Thank you for your candidness & humor. I am signing up for a TRI and have no idea what I am getting into!??!!?!?!?! I’m so glad I came across your blog. God Bless!

  • Taya

    February 25, 2017 at 2:42 am

    Love the article! I am so glad I read it. I am about to do my first tri in 20 years…I am fat and pushing old but I am going to it this summer! My question is this… I am 6.1 and about a size 12 right now…hopefully a bit smaller by August. Should I just go straight to the men’s suits? I am big and tall….it is always so fun to find clothes:(

  • Laura

    April 3, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    Some really helpful info in your page but I’m still in need of help. I’m actually an endurance runner rather than a triathlete; I live in sark in thand Channel Islands and a group of us from our running club though it would be take part as a new challenege. I can’t actually swim (entered with the guys saying I could kayak instead) but the rest of the team have found me a wet suit, buoyancy aid and plan to chuck me in the sea off our Harbour quay and plan for me to to just paddle. As a non swimmer and non triathlete don’t have much kit, I would be able to just wear my sports bra and my regular Lycra running shorts under the wet suit and then put my team vest on top after the swim? I appreciate that I’d have to go commando under the shorts, but would I get away with this? Race is in 4 days time and I’m bricking it!

  • Ven

    June 10, 2017 at 11:30 pm

    Re bras that dry, I wear a 34DD. I have a Lululemon TaTa Tamer (silly name but it does the job) that I’ve worn in three sprint distance triathlons and it has dried quickly with no chaffing. I highly recommend it, if you are on the bigger side.

  • JoAnne Dowd

    July 14, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    thank you for the incredibly helpful info, that includes choices. I am actually going into my second tri, but didn’t Love my suit the first time around, and am adding a wetsuit this time around to contend with.
    wish me luck!


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