5 ways to spend less money on triathlon | EP#67
Learn how to spend less money on triathlon. These 5 tips cover a variety of ways that will help you better hold onto your hard-earned ca$h and not let it slip into a bottomless triathlon hole.
In this Episode you'll learn about:
- Racing less and racing different races
- The importance of bike maintenance to save money
- Not needing smart trainers, power meters, or even GPS-watches
- Buying what you need cheaper by choosing better sources and timing
1. Race less or choose different races
- Especially when traveling, race entry fees and the traveling and accommodation related to racing may be a very significant percentage of what you spend on triathlon.
- Even without travel, the cost to enter an Ironman is usually at least €500-600 and an IM70.3 costs roughly €200-300.
- So what do you do? Option one is to race less.
- Not only does this save you a lot of money from entry fees, travel, and accommodation. But in addition, it’s likely that you’ll perform better in races that you enter because you’ll be able to truly peak for them.
- This is a common issue among age-groupers who tend to race too much. Especially if you race long-distance, you can’t race a lot of those long-distance races.
- The second option is to enter cheaper races.
- There are a couple of ways to do this. You can enter shorter distances like half-distance races instead of full-distance races, or Olympics or sprints instead of half-distance races.
- The distance of the race does not determine your worth as a person or a triathlete. And doing longer races does not make you a better triathlete, or vice versa.
- You can also choose to enter non-branded races or at least cheaper branded races.. An example is entering a Challenge race instead of an Ironman race. You can save about €50 for a half distance race through this simple change.
2. Take good care of your bike
- If you take good, proper care of your bike, you will save a ton on much less expensive service fees and repairs for your bike when that time comes.
- Make sure to do the most important things like giving your bike a quick wash-up weekly and a more detailed one monthly, and maybe wiping off the chain with a rag after most rides. This may save you hundreds of euros, dollars, or pounds over the course of a year when you consider how much you save that bike from accumulated damage, wear and tear.
- Here’s a great example of a Bike Maintenance Schedule from Slowtwitch. You can see what you should do after each ride, and on a weekly and monthly basis.
3. You don’t need all the tech
- As what my coach Simon Brierley said on our interview in Episode 64, “All the gear, and no idea”.
- There’s nothing wrong with gear and tech. I’m a big fan of quite a few of the gear and tech products and services that are out there.
- But gear and tech must be used right. Each athlete must have their priorities right and use the gear and tech for the right purposes within their constraints.
- Tech should be used as a tool that has a specific purpose to help you improve as a triathlete within the constraints that you have. This includes budgeting constraints.
- If buying all the latest tech prevents you from getting a bike fit, getting a coach, physio appointments, or similar things that should be really top priorities for you, then you haven’t got your priorities right.
- Here are a few common examples of tech that may be unnecessary for you.
a. Smart trainers
- This is a great tool but you don’t really need one. If you have big budget then go for it, but in my opinion, the value added from smart trainers is small compared to regular "dumb trainers".
- There is really nothing that a smart trainer can do in terms of helping you improve as an athlete that a dumb trainer can’t.
b. Power meters
- Don’t get me wrong, I think that for intermediate or advanced triathletes power meters are of massive value.
- However, there is a cheap alternative and an excellent resource that is called TrainerRoad in which they have virtual power.
- TrainerRoad costs €100 per year and if you have a speed and cadence sensor (which you can buy for a €60 one-off fee) then you can get virtual power which is very consistent, reliable, and close to the accuracy that you can get from a power meter.
- The cost of a high-end power meter can easily be 10 times the investment that of a TrainerRoad subscription plus the cadence and speed sensor.
- However, there is one area where TrainerRoad and virtual power can’t quite replace a power meter. And that is, you can’t bring it outside or to your races. But training wise you can get 90-95% of the benefits using TrainerRoad and virtual power indoors.
- Check out Episode 38: Structured, power-based cycling training with Chad Timmerman from TrainerRoad for more details.
c. GPS watches
- This may come as a surprise but you may not need one. They are wonderful tools and I do recommend getting one if you can, but it's not a must.
- We can do any important quality workout where we want to know paces (like interval workouts) on the track or even on a measured stretch of road. Just use a stopwatch and the measured distance (on the track or road) and you have all the information that you need. You don’t need anything else.
- As we talked on Training Zones part 3: Running | EP#30, paces and power are better training zones to use than heart rate for run training. So again, the pace that you get from a GPS watch is useful, but you can get that from a stopwatch and a measured stretch of road or track.
4. Buy stuff from the cheapest sources or buy stuff second hand
For new stuff
- There are plenty of online sites like Wiggle (this is my favourite and highly recommended), Amazon, Chain Reaction Cycles, Running Warehouse, and so on where you can find great deals, sales, clearance items, and so on.
- Be sure to check for good return policies which most of these sites have. It’s very useful to know your size of items you want to order anyway, because it’s just a bit of a hassle to go the post office and have to print and fill in some forms.
- You can also google things like "triathlon deals", "running deals", "cycling deals", and "swimming deals". You can exchange the word “deals” for other synonyms like "sale", "clearance", "discounts", and so on.
Buying second hand
- Search Facebook or Google for “triathlon buy sell” or “triathlon classifieds” or your local translation of those phrases.
- Slowtwitch.com has a classifieds part of their forums that is pretty reputable and good.
- Of course you can also use Ebay or Craigslist as well.
- There are also local forums that you can check. I was able to buy my current and only tri bike through a Finnish cycling buy and sell forum.
- A couple words of warning for both buying new (unless the seller has great return policies as mentioned above) and used stuff online. You need to make sure that you get to test things like bikes and wetsuits or really know 100% that it’s your size and it works for you.
- You don’t want to save money on a bike that is not your size for example. That’s not saving money at all. That’s throwing money away.
- If you buy second hand, have a friend who knows about gear come with you to look at it. So that if you’re not sure if it’s worth the price then that friend will be a second pair of eyes to help you.
5. Timing your investment
- Don’t buy bikes when the snow is clearing and the sun is coming out and the new stuff for the year comes into the shops.
- This is a generalization, because some bike shops may have last year’s bikes on huge sales this time of year.
- But for the most part, a good time to make investments is towards the end of the season in autumn. This is a great time to get stocked up on gear for your next triathlon season.
- Try to find deals during holidays like Black Fridays, Cyber Mondays, and so on.
- Check both online and physical stores for great deals.
- Plan for what you need now and start researching and window shopping. Have a list of what items you need but don’t be in a hurry. Take your time and wait for the right sale or deal to come up and then strike.
Links, resources and contact
Links and resources mentioned
- Chrissie Wellington winning the Ironman World Championships with clip-on aerobars
- Bike Maintenance Schedule
- Structured, power-based cycling training with Chad Timmerman | EP#38 - on That Triathlon Show
- Training Zones part 3: Running | EP#30 - on That Triathlon Show
- Chain Reaction Cycles
- Running Warehouse
- Slowtwitch classifieds
Connect with host Mikael Eriksson
Hi! I'm your host Mikael,
I am a full-time triathlon coach and an ambitious age-group triathlete. My goal is podium at the Finnish national championships within the next few years.
I first started the website Scientific Triathlon in autumn 2015 as a passion project to share my learnings with a larger triathlon audience. Later on, in early 2017 I started the podcast That Triathlon Show.
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