Worried about whether to wear an all-in-one tri-suit or separates for your triathlon event? Read our guide to help you decide

GRTW founder Rachael on the run at Ironman Austria

When it comes to running events, you can pretty much get away with wearing any clothes. But in triathlon, your tri suit is really important because it is the one piece of kit that you will wear for all four disciplines, swim, bike, run and transition. 

It needs to fit well, feel comfortable, particularly on the bike, and perform well in the swim and the run.  

And, you need to be able to get out of it and back into it quickly, if you need to go to the toilet and don’t want to do a Chrissie Wellington, who was renowned for taking a leak on the bike. 

Long course or sprint?

All of these considerations become even more important the longer the triathlon distance. 

GRTW founder Rachael after a practise swim at Ironman Austria

‘What you can get away with wearing in a sprint or Olympic triathlon, is different when it comes to 70.3 or Ironman,’ explains Girls Run the World founder and tri coach, Rachael Woolston. ‘I switched to wearing a two piece for Ironman Austria, as I thought it would feel cooler and allow me to go to the toilet quickly if I needed to.’

‘In the end, it was so hot, the 3.8km swim was changed to a non-wetsuit swim and I had to wear an all-in-one tri suit because wearing a top and bottoms created too much drag through the water.’

Here’s what to consider

One-piece pros…

  • Streamlined fit and so more aerodynamic 
  • Less seams = less chafing
  • More coverage

One-piece cons…

  • Can feel warmer and British Triathlon Federation rules mean you are not allowed to unzip a tri suit
  • Less flexible fit; one piece construction does not always fit for example if you are bigger on top than the bottom
  • Trickier to go to the loo in a one piece as you have to take the whole thing off!
Ironman Austria, about to start

Two-piece pros…

  • Different size options – if you are different size on the top to the bottom you can mix and match to suit your individual body shape
  • Can feel less restrictive than a one-piece; more airflow allows heat to escape quicker
  • Going to the loo is easier!

Two-piece cons

  • Less aerodynamic than a one-piece
  • Top can ride up
  • Less hydrodynamic meaning there will be more drag in the water

How to make your decision

What you choose to wear will be a personal choice and there will be an element of trial and error in finding your perfect fit. Feeling comfortable and confident is the key when it comes to better performance and more enjoyment.

And remember to always try out in training – don’t leave your tri-suit decision to the last minute.

Look out for our feature on the best trisuits for women, coming soon to the blog.

If you are interested in our mission to create gender equality in women’s participation in triathlon, register for our triathlon news here and join our triathlon community.