Best Triathlon Running Shoes Reviewed & Compared

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If you’re a triathlete, you know that only the best footwear will work. Let us help with our guide on the best triathlon running shoes.

A triathlon is a high tempo race in which there are many variables that are encountered. And flat out, not all runners are even cut out for it. But, those who are must demand the same kind of abilities from their gear. Finding the proper footwear is probably the most important task, as everything hangs on having the best possible pair of shoes to get you successfully through the race.

Our Top 3 Picks
Asics Gel Nimbus 18
  • Asics Gel Nimbus 18
  • 5 out of 5
  • Guidance Trusstic System
  • Price: See Here
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Zoot Ali'i
  • Zoot Ali'i
  • 4.7 out of 5
  • Boa Closure System
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Pearl Izumi EM Tri N2 v2
  • Pearl Izumi EM Tri N2 v2
  • 4.5 out of 5
  • offset-shaped E:Motion
  • Price: See Here
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You will absolutely need something that can take a beating just as much as you can without falling apart mid-race. For that very reason, we have done some research and come up with this great list of the best ten that we could find which met the requirements of this type of racing.

1. Asics Gel Nimbus 18

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An extremely comfortable running shoe that absorbs shock while your run, assists in gait efficiency, and has great flexibility.
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Comfort / Stability
This is the most comfortable and stable running shoe recommended for triathlons. It has a heel counter that provides great support and stability, it is highly breathable and comfortable, and its soft midsole gives your foot a nice cushion as you run. Its FluidRide provides great cushioning, its Rearfoot and Forefoot GEL Cushioning absorbs shock while your run, and it has great flexibility. Additionally, its Guidance Trusstic System provides gait efficiency, its ComforDry Lasting provides extreme comfort, and its ComforDry X-40 Sockliner provides great cushion & comfort.

Durability / Quality
This is a highly durable running shoe made with quality materials that will last a long time.

Cost or value
The price of this running shoe can be quite expensive, but well worth every penny.
Pros

Heel counter provides great support and stability

Highly  breathable and comfortable

Soft midsole that gives your foot a nice cushion as you run

Durable outsole that gives you a great grip on the ground

FluidRide provides great cushioning

Rearfoot and Forefoot GEL Cushioning absorbs shock

Great flexibility

Guidance Trusstic System provides gait efficiency

ComforDry Lasting provides extreme comfort

ComforDry X-40 Sockliner provides great cushion & comfort

Cons

Upper mesh material doesn't keep you warm in cold weather

Upper may run narrow in size

2. Zoot Ali'i

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A highly comfortable triathlon running shoe that provides a great amount of stability and absorbs impact while you run.
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Comfort / Stability
The Zoot Ali'i is a highly comfortable and stable running shoe perfect for triathlons. The only complaint being that the under of the shoe doesn't breathe well on really hot days. Its Boa® Closure System provides a good amount of stability, its UltraFit™ with BareFit™ provides a snug fit, and its Z-Bound™ insole adds comfort. It has an injected ZVA that provides good responsiveness, its seamless design prevents irritation, and it has reflective components that lets others see you easily. Additionally it absorbs impact very well.

Durability / Quality
This is a highly durable and quality made running shoe that will last a long time.

Cost or value
The price of these running shoes is inexpensive to average in price.
Pros

Boa® Closure System provides stability

UltraFit™ with BareFit™ provides snug fit

Z-Bound™ insole adds comfort

Injected ZVA provides good responsiveness

ZCR makes for a durable outsole

Seamless design prevents irritation

Reflective components lets others see you easily

Absorbs impact

Cons

Could use more ventilation on the bottom of shoe

Sizes may run small

3. Pearl Izumi EM Tri N2 v2

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This is a neutral runner that seems to do really well with long distances. The Pearl Izumi EM Tri N2 doesn’t have a whole lot of updates from its previous version, but still offer quite a few benefits.
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Comfort / Stability
The construction of the upper is a seamless one. This growing trend allows a significantly reduced chance of blister causing irritations on the interior of the shoe. The nearly transparent Transfer Dry spacer mesh does an outstanding job of keeping the feet cool with plenty of airflow. Also, instead of traditional laces, the quick lacing system allows fast cinching adjustment for a perfect fit, or for quick removal.

These are an ideal choice for those summer events due the their high breathability. In all, there several option in this guide that offer fancier technologies and newer gadgets, but these are more than suitable for a fast tempo, high endurance race like a triathlon.

The 1:1 energy foam midsole gives the proper amount of responsive cushioning, while also providing decent energy return. Combine that with the shoe’s 1:1 shock absorption foam, the impact felt during each heel strike is greatly reduced. Furthermore, the offset shape of the midsole allows the user to run with a more free and responsive ride through each gait cycle.

Durability / Quality
Improvements over the previous version were subtle, but effective. The blown rubber outsole provides quite a bit of flexibility and traction. There is also what they call a Flow Line Element that follows the runner’s cycle, applying increased grip on various road surfaces.

Cost or value
The price of these running shoes varies from average to expensive in price.
Pros

Seamless upper prevents irritation

The upper is extremely well ventilated

The quick lacing system adjusts to an optimum fit very fast

New Dynamic offset-shaped E:Motion is great for under-pronators

Energy Foam absorbs impact

Energy Foam in heel provides cushioning

Crash pad absorbs impact

Cons

Was a bit heavy for some users

Sizes may run small

4. Asics Gel Noosa Tri 11

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ASICS Gel Noosa Tri 11 has some great enhancements over the the previous versions in the Noosa line. The upper improvements consist of lighter, more comfortable “user friendly” materials compared to its predecessors. The improved construction has less seams that could result in irritating spots throughout the interior.
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Comfort / Stability
The shock absorbing GEL system is used in the rear and forefoot areas. The midsole is made of ASICS’ Solyte foam, which delivers responsive cushioning, while cutting down on weight. Additionally, the Dynamic DouMax system in the midsole also help slow the rate of pronation, making these an ideal choice for those who tend to over-pronate.

These are packed with a bunch more features such as their I.G.S or Impact Guidance System which enhances the foots natural gait.

The flexible DuraSponge Outsole, made from a blown abrasion resistant rubber, also adds some extra cushioning. For additional durability, AHAR (ASICS High Abrasion Rubber) covers the high wear area under the heel. Finally, the WET GRIP tread design allows the Noosa to function well over multiple surfaces in different climate condidtions.

Durability / Quality
This company consistently puts out quality products that perform exactly how they are intended making them a reliable.

Cost or value
They are a reasonably affordable choice almost every time. The GEL-Noosa Tri 11 is no exception, and a great option for your next triathlon.
Pros
  • Enhanced upper with fewer seams
  • Increased breathability
  • Bunion Window protects big toe
  • Propulsion Plate assists with good toe-off
  • AHAR is highly durable
  • DuraSponge outsole provides flexibility and cushioning
  • Wet grip provides excellent traction
  • Gel Cushioning System absorbs shock
  • Solyte foam provides good responsiveness
  • Dynamic DuoMax system provides for good transitions
  • Guidance System & Guidance Line provide stability
  • Elastic Laces are easy to adjust
Cons
  • Runs a bit narrow in the toe
  • Fits a half size smaller
  • Some thought there could be more cushioning

5. Asics Gel Hyper Tri 2

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The GEL-Hyper Tri 2, which is the second version in this line is a great pick for triathlon running. There were a few improvements that were made with this version, mostly involving the upper and outsole.
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Comfort / Stability
The upper has been enhanced with a more adaptive design, removing the amount of overlays that the previous version utilized. The heel of the first version seemed to be slightly stiff and restrictive, not moving properly with the user’s foot. This has also been corrected in the Hyper Tri 2. Also, the new seamless upper construction has improved breathability all around, including with the perforated sockliner. Additionally, these come with elastic laces, which is ideal for quick on/off transitions.

Moving down to the Magic Sole ventilated midsole, we find a fair amount of comfort, while retaining decent response and ground control. The Gel cushioning system is used under the heel to provide great shock absorption and impact recovery.

Durability / Quality
The outsole is completely different on this version, using their newest technologies in its design. The DuraSponge blown rubber outsole has been reinforced with ASICS’ high abrasion AHAR rubber compound in high wear areas such as the heel and forefoot, for greater durability and traction. Furthermore, the overall flexibility is enhanced even more by a flex groove which runs almost the length of the shoe.

Although these are number five on this list, this is a guide of the ten best shoes for triathlons. that means that these are among the best options out there, in terms of function, comfort and performance. These are worth considering.

Cost or Value
The price of this running shoe varies from average to expensive in cost.
Pros
  • Seamless upper design eliminates irritation
  • GEL cushioning effectively absorbs shock from impact
  • Very light shoe
  • 6 Drainage ports under mid and forefoot
  • Highly Breathable
  • Magic Sole makes it lightweight
  • Very Flexible
  • Asics High Abrasion Rubber is very durable
Cons
  • Runs a bit small in size
  • Some wish neutral colors were offered

6. Inov-8 Tri Xtreme 275

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A superb triathlon running shoe that can be used in lots of different terrain due to its 6 water drainage ports. It provides remarkable flexibility while remaining lightweight and breathable.
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Comfort / Stability
This is a highly comfortable and stable triathlon running shoe that has 6 water drainage ports making it easy to run in all types of terrain. It has a roomy toe box, its Meta Flex technology provides flexibility, and its Quick release lacing system allows you to slide them on your feet quickly. It is very lightweight and highly breathable.

Durability / Quality
There were very few complaints about the durability and quality of this running shoe it should last a long time.

Cost or value
The price of this running shoe is quite expensive, but well worth your money.
Pros

Has water drainage ports

Roomy toe box

Meta Flex provides flexibility

Fusion rubber is highly durable

Quick release lacing system

Has excellent traction

Very lightweight

Highly breathable

Cons

Can be seen as expensive

A very small amount of users experienced durability issues

7. Newton Distance V

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Noticeable first by the five lugs positioned underneath the forefoot, Newton has a fierce competitor on our list in the form of their Distance V. The lightweight and responsiveness are really the biggest things going for this model.
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Comfort / Stability
Their lugs, located underneath the metatarsals are designed to promote proper forefoot motion, absorb shock and assist in forward propulsion. The outer is also constructed with a high density EVA, which not only aids in durability, but also provides some extra rebound. To last through continuous runs, these also have been protected further with abrasion resistant rubber in high-wear areas.

The engineered seamless mesh upper provides a lightweight, well ventilated fit that reduces the chance of interior chafing. There are overlays that have been anatomically place in order to offer an even more secure fit.

When Newton’s shoes end up on these type buying guides, they are almost always hanging out in the top positions. These are, in a nutshell, fast, responsive and lightweight runners that will get you comfortably through a race. On top of that, they have a pretty innovative design that actually works.

Durability / Quality
This is a highly durable running shoe that is made with quality materials and will last a long time.

Cost or Value
The price of this running shoe is quite expensive, but well worth it.
Pros
  • 5 lug design helps propel the foot forward
  • Adaptive seamless upper
  • pretty durable construction
  • Lightweight
  • Ideal for long distances
  • Highly breathable
  • Action/Reaction Technology absorbs impact
  • Excellent high-rebound attributes
  • Full flex zone provides great flexibility
Cons
  • Some may consider it expensive
  • Could have a better variety of colors
  • Sizes run a half size larger

8. Asics Gel Kayano 22

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You'll be running in more comfort than ever with the secure fit upper, seamless construction and re-engineered Heel Clutching System of these running shoes.
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Comfort / Stability
Aside from it being narrow in size and narrow in the toe box most runners found the Asics Gel Kayano 22 quite comfortable. Its Impact Guidance System assists with natural gait, its FluidRide® provides spring in your step, and its FluidFit® provides flexibility. Its Heel Clutching System provides support, The Rearfoot and Forefoot GEL® Cushioning System absorbs impact, and the Dynamic DuoMax® Support System provides support. It has a Guidance Trusstic System® that provides stability, It is well ventilated so your feet can breathe easily.

Durability / Quality
This is a highly durable running shoe that will last a long time and is made with quality materials.

Cost or value
The price of this running shoe varies from average to expensive in price depending on where you purchase it from.
Pros

Impact Guidance System assists with natural gait

FluidRide® provides spring in your step

FluidFit® provides flexibility

Heel Clutching System provides support

Rearfoot and Forefoot GEL® Cushioning System absorbs impact

Dynamic DuoMax® Support System provides support

Guidance Trusstic System® provides stability

Well ventilated

Seamless design prevents irritation

Cons

May run  narrow in size

Toe box is small & narrow

9. Zoot Ultra Race 4.0

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This neutral runner has quite a unique sock-like design, which is one that is growingly common with Zoot’s footwear. The Ultra Race 4.0 is a fast, lightweight shoe that possesses all of the basics required of effective racing footwear.
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Comfort / Stability
The TekSheen upper material is designed to be adaptive and very stretchable, giving the wearer a foot hugging fit. Instead of traditional laces, these are secured by what they cal their BOA system. It is basically a thin cable that tightened or loosened by a dial located on the front. Also, instead of holes or loops, the lacing cable goes directly through the overlay straps. This method allows a more custom and snug fit after adjusted.

Durability / Quality
The Z-Bound midsole foam that is used is pretty responsive and extremely light. You’ll also find Zoot’s CarbonSpan+ in the midsole, which is basically a carbon fiber insert that provides a bit more torsional stability.

The combination of blown rubber and their ZPU patterned lug design allows the outsole to perform well over various surfaces. Finally, also have a few drainage ports located under the forefoot for water release.

These have a really unique design that actually seems to work quite well. With these you can comfortably get through your run and turn some heads, both at the same time!

Cost or Value
These running shoes can be a bit on the expensive side, but most runners agree they are well worth the price.
Pros

Comfortable seamless upper

Very light construction

Non- traditional BOA lacing system

Highly breathable

Drain holes assist in wet terrain

Zoot ZPU pattern of rubber lugs provide great traction

Z-Bound provides responsiveness

CarbonSpan+ provides stability

TekSheen upper provides flexibility

Cons

A little more expensive than what many would expect

Some runners had pain in the heel area

Limited color options

10. Scott Tri Carbon

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Scott Sports brings triathlon runners the Scott Tri Carbon. Engineered to master the biking split with a fast shift, this model is the king of the road. Equipped with the latest carbon technology to bring upper support, comfort and performance, along with a rigidness score of 9 out of 10, these shoes are ready to hit any triathlon.
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Comfort / Stability
Now coming in an unique tongue-less approach for a fastest wear than ever before, without reducing comfort. The wrap closure style assures an even faster wear to reduce important seconds, increase security and adjust the fit to every foot. The arch support is equipped with an ErgoLogic insole for top-class sustain. For breathability, the SCOTT Tri Carbon offers a 3D Nylon Airmesh Upper, combined with advanced Microfiber for the ultimate lightweight feature.

Durability / Quality
The outsole is covered with HMX Carbon, giving a flawless grip and providing superior peddling power and endurance. The RacingFit technology provides a slimmer fit that adjusts to the feet, which is enhanced by the synthetic leather WrapFit that provides greater comfort. Lastly, a PowerZone outsole was developed by scientists to provide an axial zone around the heel and a power zone that distributes impulse and energy through the rest of the outsole

Cost or value
These can be quite pricey, but they come equipped with so many benefits that make it well worth every penny.
Pros

Carbon-incorporated design

Tongue-less approach for a quick fit

Great combination of flexibility and stiffness

Breathable microfiber airmesh upper

ErgoLogic insole provides adjustable arch support

Boa IP1 provides great support

Cons

Considerably expensive

Toe pads may wear quickly


The Criteria We Used For Our Evaluation of the Best Triathlon Shoes

 

When it comes to triathlons, equipment is one of the most important things. The difference of equipment, such as clothing, bikes and shoes can determine whether you’ll be the first or the second place. This is why we’ve set up a list of strict parameters to follow when researching the best shoes for triathlon participants to use.

Below we’ll explain these parameters, why we chose them, and the impact they have on the performance of athletes while wearing them.

Technologies Applied

Technology has entered a constant state of evolution every since its creation, and has been expanding to the most wide variety of uses. Technology is now a part of some shoes out there, which is why we defined it as a parameter for our research of the best triathlon shoes.

Being triathlons such a demanding and active sport, we searched through the shoes that featured the highest technology in general; from shock absorption heel technology to microfiber upper builds with built-in devices to enhance breathability. You would normally think that equipment and gear has no influence in the results of a triathlon. However, the impact that technology has on each pair of shoes allow triathlon participants to enhance their performance like never before.

technologies

Some of the technologies that we looked for during our research mostly included designs that provide superior flexibility and full contact; this will allow users to obtain the maximum impulse off every gait. Outsole, midsole, and insole technologies play an important role when it comes to bounce and shock absorption; these can determine the endurance of a participant by assisting them in traction and reducing the effort it takes to perform an extra step, hence enhancing endurance and power.

Weight

During our search to bring you the best triathlon shoes, we included the weight of the shoes as a research parameter. The importance of weight drew our attention because it can considerably reduce the effort needed to carry on every single strike, and when it comes to a triathlon, we’re talking about quite an amount of strikes. Reducing the energy needed to execute each one of them can produce a decisive advantage when performing for long times.

shoe-weight

We made sure to select only the most lightweight designs out there. However, it’s not just having low weight; our picks consist of shoes that can offer superior functionality and performance while still sustaining a lightweight design. The features that we look for in a lightweight shoe include the materials of which they are made out of; this determines the base weight of the shoe. After this, other features such as additional technology or devices add up weight, so we focused on those shoes that maintain an overall lightweight design. This includes both base structure and additional features.

Lastly, the lightweight shoes can’t lack other important features in order to reduce weight. They must meet high standards of sole thickness, cushioning, and shock absorption while still maintaining low weight.

Flexibility

shoe-flexibility

Flexibility is a must in every running shoe. Being this a triathlon buying guide, we ensured that our research included features that meet standards similar to those of high quality running shoes.  In order to obtain a natural gain and to deliver proper strikes, flexibility must meet certain eminence.

For us, it’s important for the shoes to have the correct direction of flexibility. During our research, we looked for shoes with multi-directional flexibility that provide a comfortable and functional performance while still maintaining enough stiffness to support the shoe.

Comfort

When we’re talking about multiple hours of consistent intense exercise, comfort becomes an important factor for each participant. Any kind of uncomfortable feature will expose the participant to a lesser performance; you can’t give your best if your shoes generate irritation, discomfort or pain in your feet.

There are multiple sub-parameters that fall into this category. To mention some of them, we examined features of the shoes such as arch support; this represents an important parameter, especially for those users who have arch issues (low arch, flatfoot), and it can impede a participant to perform correctly. The toe box can also impact the comfort of each shoe, as too much space will allow the shoe to bounce back and forth, and it will additionally generate an unnatural gait, as well as affect flexibility.

Another aspect of this parameter is cushioning. In order to perform for multiple hours, triathlon participants must have their shoes properly equipped with cushioning. The lack of cushioning will result in the heel and general foot taking most of the impact shock, generating not only discomfort but also pain and possible minor injuries.

Breathability

For this buying guide, we compiled a list of shoes that provide a decent amount of air flow into the shoe and back out. This allows the feet to refresh while a participant is performing for long periods of time, preventing heat concentrations that can lead to further consequences such as excessive sweating of the feet, fungi and bad odor.

breathability

In order to provide enough breathability to stay in comfort, a shoe must be prepared to allow the flow of new air. We searched through the shoes that offer the most breathable materials, such as mesh and airmesh, which would provide enough air to enter from multiple areas of the shoe. We also took in consideration all kinds of technologies that improve the breathability of the shoes, selecting those which offered the greatest.

For even more breathability, we looked through some models that allow barefoot performance. While some users are against barefoot exercising, some others find it way more comfortable to perform without socks, seeing as it becomes more breathable when you remove them – but it’s just a matter of personal opinion.

 


Other Important Factors to Consider When Selecting the Best Triathlon Shoes

Durability

Durability is a very important factor for our research on the best triathlon shoes. While a new pair of shoes might not deteriorate enough in one triathlon to affect performance, we looked for shoes that can provide enough durability to take multiple intense training sessions and triathlons.

Some triathlons shoes can come in very expensive, whether they’re cycling shoes, running shoes, or a hybrid of both. Not everyone has the option to switch from pair of shoes after every triathlon; and even those who have the option don’t necessarily want to buy a whole new pair of shoes again. We took in consideration those designs that offer great resistance against intense training and performance; from the base shoe build to the integrated features.

Sometimes the smallest things can affect the durability of a shoe; a deteriorated rubber sole can notably affect traction and completely kill the performance of a triathlon participant. We assured to pick the shoes made out of the best materials, specially engineered to last a decent amount of time along with all their incorporated features.

Specialization

Triathlon shoes can go from running shoes, to cycling shoes, and a combination of both. During our research, we made sure to include shoes that cover every need of a triathlon participant; while some prefer to buy a specialized pair of shoes for each activity, some others rather obtain a pair of hybrid shoes that support all activities equally.

technology

We compiled a list of all three kinds of shoes (cycling, running, and hybrids) in order to fulfill all needs. For those triathlon participants who like specialized pairs of shoes for each activity, we performed a thorough research in order to find the pairs of shoes that can be equipped more easily, as we know each second counts during a triathlon. We also kept in mind the rest of the criteria employed for this investigation of course, so we only selected those shoes that can reduce important seconds while still offering an outstanding performance.

We kept in mind the specialization of each model, taking in consideration the performance they have in relation to their respective sport. For cycling shoes, we looked for high standards of stiffness and traction in order to maintain a solid peddle grip, as well as those which are able to keep up with fast motions and deliver very intense movements.

Materials

The materials of which the shoes are made out of were an important factor for our investigation, seeing as the materials employed in each shoe can affect a large list of other criteria such as lightweightness, breathability, comfort and durability.

materials

We looked for materials that would provide enough support while still maintaining all of the previous criteria of our research. This includes the materials used for additional features, such as custom insoles and reinforced outsoles. In order to select the best shoes, we looked for high-quality materials such as thermoplastic polyurethane, synthetic leather, carbon, microfiber, kevlar and foam-blown polyurethane to provide the ultimate features to a triathlon performer.

 


FAQ

 

Q: Are there triathlon shoes for pronation and supination?

A: Depending on your symptoms, there might be the right pair of shoes for you within this list. While the shoes might not be especifically engineered to compensate any particular symptom, they can be adapted to your anatomy through additional equipment (E.G, add a custom inner sole if you have arch issues).

Q: Is it bad to use regularly worn shoes during triathlons?

A: The newer, the better. However, this doesn’t mean that you’ll have to dump your shoes after each triathlon. As long as you feel comfortable with them during training or competences, and there are no internal or external deteriorations, you don’t need to replace your shoes.

Q: Should I use a single pair of shoes for triathlons, or multiple?

A: We recommend you to use a pair of shoes for each activity if you can. Specialized shoes are engineered to offer the upper hand in their respective activity, having a large list of benefits that you might not get from a regular pair of running shoes. However, many athletes compete with a single pair of shoes.

Q: Should I use the same pair of shoes for both training and competing?

A: It’s not really necessary to switch between training shoes and competing shoes. Once again, as long as they’re not deteriorated, you’ll perform just fine. Wearing the same shoes for both activities will indeed deteriorate them faster, but it saves you from buying multiple pairs.

Q: Is expensive equipment necessary for a triathlon?

A: All you need to participate in a triathlon is a pair of sneakers and swimming gear. We provide this list in hopes of assisting you in your search for the most advanced and functional pair of triathlon shoes. While quality will give you a notable difference, you can compete with any pair of running shoes.


Here are some sources we used while conducting our research:

Sources

  1. Triathlete, When to Ditch Your Shoes, Triathlon Informative Magazine, Sep 26, 2016
  2. ILoveBicycling, Triathlon vs Road Shoes, Cycling and Training Website, Jun 25, 2015
  3. Competitor.com, Shoes for Ironman Triathletes, Fitness and Sports Source, Oct 11, 2015
  4. Bata, Running Shoe Materials, Global Footwear Manufacturer,
  5. Dummies, How Running Shoes Work for Dummies, Informational web guide,

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