The original triathletes were amazing. Dave Scott and Mark Allen accomplished amazing 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 of the information gathering abilities we have. Yet, they set records and competed valiantly. In fact, Mark Allen still holds the marathon record in Kona to this day. Technology is a great friend to triathletes but it does have a downside.
So technology has taken over every part of triathlon. One of the most widely researched areas is the area of the triathlon watch. Each and every year there are new watches available for purchase that have ever increasing measurements for the triathlete. My personal favorite is the Garmin 910XT. This watch gives me heart rate, power (with a power meter), pacing (with optional foot pod), speed, cadence (with optional cadence sensor), mileage, yards in swimming, and much more. Each of these measurements aids me in measuring my success or failures in each and every training session and race.
Technology has been making huge strides in bicycles and wheelsets. The amount of research going into these two items in the world of triathlon is incredible. Each and every year there are new and exciting advances in aerodynamic speed in bicycles and wheelsets. Much of the time these technologies can take on two very different vantage points. This was most evident at the 2016 World Championships in Kona. Diamond Bikes unveiled their Andean bike which fills in all the space in between the front tire and the back tire with a solid piece to make the wind pass by this area for aerodynamics. Another bike debuted at Kona this year with the exact opposite idea. The Ventum bike eliminated the down tube of the bike and made a vacant space in between the front tire and the back tire with only the top tube remaining. These are two very different ideas about aerodynamics. This is one of the amazing things about the advancement of technology and one of the downsides as well.
Each and every piece of equipment in triathlon is undergoing constant technology advancements. Shoes, wetsuits, socks, nutrition, hats, sunglasses, helmets, racing kits, and anything else you can imagine. This world of technology in triathlon is not near to completion and will continue to push the limits.
The Upside to Technology
Technology in triathlon is amazing. These new items are exciting and make each and every year different. There are new advancements that help triathletes go faster and longer. These new technologies help even the amateur triathlete to go faster. Just the purchase of new wheels can mean the difference between being on or off the podium. The advancement of shoes has aided many athletes to avoid the injuries that plague so many such as plantar fasciitis. Technology will continue to aid the sport in becoming better and better.
The Downside to Technology
The downside to technology is that the amateur triathlete arrives at their local race already incapable of winning because someone else has the money to buy some of the latest technology. The biggest purchases such as wheelsets and bicycles can be cost prohibitive to the average triathlete and yet there are individuals who purchase these items at alarming rates. The amateur triathlete can also feel overwhelmed at what to purchase and what not to purchase. Some items of technology are not worth the extra cost because they do not decrease racing time significantly enough for what they cost. Now that these new technologies have been out awhile, knock-offs have begun to make lower cost items. It will be interesting to watch the flood of these knock-offs into the market and see how that affects the big boys of technology.
If you are an amateur triathlete shop smart and don't go buy the new gadgets just because they are new. Make sure to invest in items that are going to truly make you faster and not just a gimmick.