The original triathletes were great. Dave Scott and Mark Allen accomplished extraordinary feats in triathlon long before technology took over the sport. They didn’t have metrics like we have today, and they certainly didn’t have all the intelligence gathering capabilities we have. However, they set records and competed valiantly. In fact, Mark Allen still holds the Kona marathon record today. Technology is a great friend to triathletes, but it has a downside.
So technology has taken over every part of the triathlon. One of the most researched areas is the triathlon watch area. Every year there are new watches available for purchase that have ever increasing sizes for the triathlete. My favorite is the Garmin 910XT. This watch gives me heart rate, power (with a power meter), pace (with optional foot pod), speed, cadence (with optional cadence sensor), mileage, swim meters, and more. Each of these metrics helps me gauge my successes or failures in every single training session and race.
Technology has come a long way in bicycles and wheel sets. The amount of research going into these two elements in the world of triathlon is staggering. Every year there are new and exciting advances in aerodynamic speed in bikes and wheelset. Most of the time these technologies can take on two very different points of view. This was most evident at the 2016 World Championships in Kona. Diamond Bikes has unveiled their Andean bike that fills all the space between the front and rear tires with one solid piece to pass the wind away from this area for aerodynamics. Another bike debuted at Kona this year with the exact opposite idea. The Ventum bike did away with the downtube on the bike and created a gap between the front and rear tires with only the top tube left. These are two very different ideas about aerodynamics. This is one of the amazing things about the advancement of technology and also one of the negatives.
Every piece of equipment in triathlon undergoes continuous technological advances. Shoes, wetsuits, socks, nutrition, hats, sunglasses, helmets, running kits and anything else you can imagine. This world of triathlon technology is not close to completion and will continue to push the envelope.
THE RESULT OF TECHNOLOGY
The technology in triathlon is amazing. These new items are exciting and make every year different. There are new advances that help triathletes go faster and longer. These new technologies also help the amateur triathlete go faster. Just buying new wheels can make the difference between getting on or off the podium. The advancement in shoes has helped many athletes avoid injuries that plague so many like plantar fasciitis. Technology will continue to help sports get better and better.
RESPECT FOR TECHNOLOGY
The downside of technology is that the amateur triathlete arrives at the local race already unable to win because someone else has the money to buy some of the latest technology. Larger purchases like wheelsets and bikes can be cost-prohibitive for the average triathlete, yet there are people who purchase these items at alarming prices. The amateur triathlete can also feel overwhelmed with what to buy and what not to buy. Some tech items aren’t worth the extra cost because they don’t reduce race time significantly enough for what they cost. Now that these new technologies have been out for a while, knockoffs have started producing cheap items. It will be interesting to watch the influx of these copycats into the market and see how that affects the bigwigs in the tech.
If you’re an amateur triathlete shop smart and don’t go out and buy new gadgets just because they’re new. Make sure you invest in items that will actually make you faster and not just a gimmick.