Full disclaimer that title isn’t exactly true, I’m an occasional triathlete at best. But it really does accurately convey the message of the day. I think we all have some weird fitness hacks that either solve a problem save us money or both so I decided to share mine. This is also proof that not everything you use to work out has to be brand name or expensive. If you’re in a pinch you can also think outside the box and maybe save yourself a trip to the sporting goods store entirely.
Cheap shorty wet suit: Think the kind of thing you might wear on a jet-ski in California. I prefer to do most of my swim training in the lake and occasionally the ocean. If I can get away with it I’d ideally do it in a bikini or just a one piece. When my lake swims are early or my ocean swims get long I do need some help staying warm. I’m lucky to have all the options as honey dives. I could wear a prober scuba wetsuit, a dry suit or a summer suit. I prefer the shorty suit though. It’s so easy to get on and off, It’s not the end of the world if I don’t rinse it. It’s even my go to on race day.
Waterproof MP3 player: Swimming laps at the pool is pretty boring and it can make anyone a little self conscious. At least it does for me. Having some music as you do it is pretty awesome. Not everyone wants to have their super expensive phone on deck and swim in super expensive ear buds. There are a lot of very cheap MP3 waterproof players that strap to your goggles that you can pick up for a few bucks if you want to give it a try.
Cheap alarm clock: When I’m swim train I do a lot of it in open water and mother nature didn’t have the foresight to install a pool clock for me. I leave a large face clock with a second hand on the shore. That way when I swim my lengths I can have an idea of how fast I’m going.
Hubby’s dive gear: I actually have a set too but his is usually much more accessible since it’s used regularly. I really like it for keeping warm in cold water. The booties are great for getting in and out over jagged rocks (way better than water shoes, the gloves for keeping your hands warmer and the hood for your neck and head. I can also use the flippers for drills. If you’re looking for any of this stuff I recommend getting dive gear instead of the stuff from the sports store. It’s just much better quality and the prices are pretty good too.
For running a lot of the stuff I use in this category actually ended up in the general category so go check there too!
Wired earbuds: I actually might be the last runner around using wired earbuds at this point. I like the skull candy ones but I don’t use a regular port anymore. I’m open to trying wireless buds but there’s no rush. I’ll never forget to charge the ones I use and there is no worry about battery life even on my longest runs. Even if I make the switch I’ll probably need a good pair of wired earbuds in reserve.
Drugstore insoles: Every once and a while I get a pair of running shoes that feel harder or cheaper than I’d like. Often it’s my trail shoes which full disclosure I mostly use in the winter on the pavement. Rather than not use the pair or buying custom insoles I just head to the drugstore and buy one of the more expensive fancy pairs. I’ve had this trick make unusable shoes useable for me in the past. I’ve liked the Dr. Sholl’s sports ones in the past.
Ridiculous fuzzy mittens: I’ll go out on a limb here and say there are no running gloves ever made that can handle a really cold winter day in Canada. Not even if you tuck them into your jacket sleeves. For those days I layer a super duper thick and fuzzy set of mittens on top of my running gloves. No I can’t change the song but my hands stay warm.
I do some road cycling but love the trails more. I often do about half of my tri training on my mountain bike so keep that in mind.
Chainsaw wrenches as tire levers: Disclaimer this is risky and any damage you do to your wheels is on you. Okay? Getting super tight high pressure tires onto your wheels is a task at the best of times. The plastic tire wrenches snap almost immediately so when I’m having a tough time I’ll grab a couple of chainsaw wrenches to get it started and there is no chance it will break.
Vaseline: I keep a little tub of vaseline in my mountain biking pack. I do this because it works well enough for quite a few things in an emergency. Yes you can use it as chain lube in a pinch but I carry that too. It’s good for a lip chap, a cleaner, chaffed skin (possibly from your seat), to start a fire or sorta seal a cut you can’t cover. What I love it for though is road rash. In the event of a road rash style injury smearing it with a thick layer of vaseline will keep the air off of it and kill the burn in only a few minutes.
Ziplock bags: If you live somewhere with really predictable weather good for you, we can’t be friends. Which is to say that even if there is a 0% chance of precipitation there is still a chance it will pour or even hail. Given how long and far bike rides can be I’m in the habit of storing anything I want to keep dry or have dry in ziplock bags. I might be my cell phone, spare socks, a hat or a sweater in a ziplock bag. Even if it will get wet it’s so much nicer to put it on dry!
Most of these are in this category because they apply to all three sports I’m specifically talking about. These items have use well beyond that too.
Puffy vest: The major sporting goods companies do make vests I bought one for my mom but I just have a regular one from the cheap department store. Actually I have two, both used and you probably have one too. These vests were all the rage 10 years ago so if you donated one you’ll have your pick of colors at the thrift shop. I love to wear them at the in between temperatures so over a long sleeved shirt or even a light running jacket. There are days where just a little bit of a warm hug on your core is just right. Since it will never be right next to your skin it doesn’t have to be made of performance fabric. Even though I don’t wear my puffy vests many days of the year I do so look forward to it.
Reusing cheap gatorade bottles: A few years ago now honey bought me one of those super fancy brand name hydration belts and the bottles that came with it were just stupid. The idea was great so I ordered this one on amazon instead and it’s going strong like 2000 km later! With a bit of pocket stretching you can get any bottle in. I do love a good bottle with a pop up straw but I often use old gatorade bottles over and over too. They carry so much more than those silly palm sized ones and they don’t leak either. It’s no big deal if you stash one frozen for later and never find it. Plus you know reuse is one of the three R’s right?
Regular underpants: I do have and have bought super fancy sports underpants and they are great. But… lots of regular bands make synthetic versions that perform almost as well. I recommend finding a set of fancy ones you like and then comparing the multipack options to one you know you like. So if you’re like me and sneaking a run in when you can on what day you’re not sure you have two options. Always wear super fancy running underpants all the time (which sometimes don’t play nice with slacks) or find a more practical options that will also preform well enough for a work out!
Kid’s sports bras: I guess I’m outing myself as a card carrying member if the IBTC but…I mostly buy kids sports bras in large (not extra large) at the grocery store that has a clothing line. Obviously not everyone can do that but (I’m a good B) if you can check it out. They are so much cheaper, you can buy them to match outfits without feeling guilty and when the elastic finally goes it’s no big loss.
Fuel: Gels, goos and beanz are not your only option. There are a ton of whole food options that you can try that are way cheaper, more available and will work great for you. I use raisins but there are lots of other great options too.
I’ve gotten to a point in my life where if there is a specific option that will work better than the compromise version I’ll get the better one. I can afford it now and appreciate having the right tool for the job. These options work just as well as the more standard options, some better, cost less and are more readily available. If that’s the case why shell out extra? What are the everyday fitness things that have an important place in your routine? Leave it in the comments below!