Created On: 26 January 2012

Triathlon and athletic training gear display an interesting lifecycle.  There will be several years of incremental advancements in technology, followed by one manufacturer making a big leap forward.  Others quickly follow, and then we are back to incremental advancements for a few years. 

For 2012, triathletes can be thankful that many of the big leaps forward are for gear that they will use and train with nearly every day.  While items like triathlon and road bikes and cycling and running shoes continue to make steady forward progress, there are a few things that strike us as being worth paying attention to.  We have distilled it down to the big three for 2012.

Compression Wear Explosion

Compression gear has been around for a while.  Running tights, shorts, and tops have been made to varying degrees for several years in compression models.  In 2012, however, triathletes have more choices than ever for high-quality compression wear. 

For those who haven't taken advantage of compression gear, why use it?  For a couple of good reasons.  First, compression gear provides pressure and stability on muscles and joints during a run or bike, which can help muscle alignment and prevent some overuse injuries (tendonitis, IT band) from acting up as often.  Several makers claim that testing demonstrates significant reduction of weight on key joints when wearing compression gear. Second, high-quality compression gear aids in recovery by providing consistent pressure on muscles after a hard workout.  Many serious athletes even sleep with compression gear on to make recovery faster.

Key makers of compression gear in 2012 include Skins,, 2XU, Sugoi and Compressport.  Most of them have entered the market with several choices, such as thermal pieces geared toward colder weather, triathlon suits that contain compression technology, and recovery-specific pieces for resting and sleeping.

A New Level of GPS Technology in Training Watches

Garmin has long been the leader in GPS training watches, with models dating back several years.  While the watches were useful and quickly became staples for many triathletes, they were large and not very flexible.  User complained that the watches were heavy and for petite users were far too large on the wrist.  The presets on the screens and technology were fairly rigid.  They were also not intended to ever be used in water, or the warranty would void.

Enter the past year, when the GPS watches finally made a big push forward.  Gone are the days of large, heavy watches with limited functionality.  This year, Garmin introduced two waterproof watches - the 310XT and the 910XT.  As the model numbers would imply, the 310XT is the base-level waterproof GPS watch, which can be used by swimmers in the pool or especially on open water swims (we question if much chlorine would be good for it).  The 910XT is a feat of engineering - not only is it waterproof, but it is customizable to track what you want.  It can sense your body fat and body water ratios, and can tell you after an open water swim if you swam straight or curved.  If you don't need the waterproof qualities, Garmin also introduced the 405, the sleekest watch they make.  This is a great running and cycling watch that for once does not dominate your wrist, and is no larger than a simpler athletic watch.

Wetsuit Technology Leaps Ahead

Wetsuits are pretty simple garments:  They are typically made of neoprene fabric, and have a zipper so you can remove them.  And in a cheap wetsuit, that is about all you get.  For 2012, though, we are seeing that triathlon wetsuits are making a bit step forward in their technology and value.

Most major wetsuit makers today - Orca, Blue Seventy, 2XU, Zone 3, Speedo and Quintana Roo - now offer several models with designs with specialiaed forearm panels that actually create more drag during the stroke, helping make for a stronger pull.  This technology was limited just a couple years ago, but this year we are seeing it even in lower-end models.  Special triathlon-specific zippers are also proliferating, ones that provide for faster removal at the end of the swim.  QR's breakaway zipper was the first to offer this, but most other makers have followed.

Conclusion

Part of being a triathete is being a gear junkie, and 2012 should not disappoint.  Gear and technology for triathlon training has improved dramatically, especially if you are in the market for GPS watches, compression wear, or wetsuits.

Tags: news,training

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