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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, August 30, 2001

Try & tri-again
Finding the right workout attire can enhance exercise experience

Editor's note: Writers Vicki Viotti, a novice athlete, and Katherine Nichols, an experienced competitor, are training together for the Sept. 9 Niketown Na Wahine Sprint Triathlon. In this weekly Thursday column, they share insights from experts, other athletes and their own training regimen, aimed at helping readers push their own boundaries — physically and mentally.

By Katherine Nichols
Advertiser Staff Writer

Everything in life can be more pleasant when you're wearing the right outfit. This is never more true than when you're exercising, when the wrong clothing can ruin the entire experience. The cardinal rule when shopping for gear: Just because something works for someone else does not mean it will be right for you. Heed recommendations, but make your own choices based on comfort.

One of the best ways to choose the appropriate exercise gear, including your shoes and accessories, is to make your buying decisions based on comfort.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

Below is a brief evaluation of essentials and extras:

• Running shoes: This is your foundation, and probably the most important investment you will make for injury prevention. Take time to research on the Web and in magazines. Shop where knowledgeable people can help you.

Niketown Honolulu running specialist Eric Hogge recommends purchasing a shoe that you will wear only for exercise, and not all day at work, as well. "You don't want to go into a store and try on just one shoe," Hogge said.

And you can't purchase the shoe just because a friend has had good luck with it. "Everybody's foot is a little bit different," he said.

He also suggests bringing (or buying) socks you'll wear with the shoes, and trying on shoes later in the afternoon, when your feet are more swollen. If you have an old shoe you like, bring it in so the staff can help find a comparable model (constantly evolving shoe styles will confound any shopper).

Allow a thumbnail space between the longest toe and end of shoe, he said, and make sure the width feels good. Don't hesitate to run through the store to give it a test drive.

People looking for a transition advantage in a triathlon can try the new slip-on shoes, such as Nike's lightweight Kukini ($90), or the Presto Faze ($85).

• One-piece triathlon suit: "More people are going to the one-piece suit because it cuts down on transition times, it's comfortable and you don't get anything binding at the waist," said John Hashizume, owner of Nytro Hawaii. "It's like a second layer of skin."

The drawback? "If you have to go to the potty, you've got to unzip the whole thing."

Practicality isn't the only reason men and women are buying the suit. "It's a very sleek look," Hashizume said.

Frank Smith, owner of Island Triathlon & Bike, said that the tri-suit is a revival of the original that appeared in the early 1980s. It now has better materials and a lighter pad than a typical cycling short to prevent water retention after the swim. Though it's best to save it for races, it's a good idea to experiment with the suit in training before the big day. $75-$90

• Triathlon short: "Men are tending to get away from the Speedo-type swim brief," Hashizume said. Speedo and De Soto now make longer, Lycra tri shorts appropriate for all three sports. "The longer short gives you better coverage on the inside of your thigh," which helps prevent chafing. $35-$40

• Tri top: Tighter than a typical running jersey, so you can swim in it. $40-$50

• Race belt: Pin your race number on this stretchy, easy-buckle belt, and put it on before the run segment. Prevents pin punctures on expensive lycra outfits. $6

• Saddles (bike seats): "The new trend is a saddle with a hole in the middle," Hashizume said. But that doesn't mean it will be right for you. "It's a real personal thing. It's hard to go on someone else's recommendation." About $90-$100

• Easy laces: These allow you to slip on your shoes without taking time to tie standard shoe laces. $5

• Sunglasses: Look for wrap-around, lightweight sunglasses with UV protection and ventilation to keep them from fogging when you sweat. Also good protection from bugs and flying debris. $65-$150

• Hats: "You want a breathable hat," Hogge said. Most sports stores sell light-colored, mesh hats. $18-$24

One way to get advice is to join a triathlon clinic or running club. One running group that welcomes participants of all abilities meets at 6 p.m. Wednesday nights at Niketown Honolulu in the King Kalakaua Shopping Center.

Another group gathers at the Running Room on Kapahulu Avenue at 5:30 p.m. every Thursday.

In both cases, the workout is free and the the supportive atmosphere can help provide opportunities to ask questions of the athletes and staff.