I have a sprint triathlon coming up and it looks like the temperature will be in the mid to low 50's. Do I wear something in addition to my tri top and shorts or do I just grind it out and forget about the temperature? I wear more clothing for training purposes and have not gone from the water to the bike in these temperatures, so I do not know if the misery factor comes into play. Should I include arm & leg warmers and accept a longer transition time for more comfort on the ride and run? Thanks!!
It's your choice obviously. However, at an early season tri with cold water and air temps, I did put on arm and leg warmers. I was using the race for training and not worrying much about the transition times. At least try to towel off your arms and legs so the wind chill doesn't bother you. It is more important to make sure your core stays warm so a snug windbreaker or vest might be enough or use the cyclist trick of putting newspaper under your (wet) jersey. Your head accounts for about 1/3 of your body heat loss so a snug, wicking cap that fits under your helmet will help since your hair will be wet. Also, those hand/foot warmer bags can be usefull. Put a pair of the hand warmers in your cycling shoes before heading to the water so the shoes don't get too cold. Put the foot warmers (they have stick 'em) up on the underside of the shoe tongue as well. At T1 switch the hand warmers into the running shoes to get them a bit warm and slide on the cycling shoes with the toe warmers warming the tops of your feet. At T2 you could also switch the toe warmers into your running shoes if your feet are still cold.
I have been on an early season training ride where I had arm and knee warmers and a vest over a jersey with temps in the 50's. I came across a triathlon in progress where riders were nearly blue (especially the guy in only a speedo). It all depends on how much you want to suffer, I suppose. Good luck.
Thanks for the info! I love the idea of the hand/foot warmers. I use them in my ski boots all the time, just never thought about using them in cycling/running shoes. The mental picture of the freezing cold guy in the speedo gave me my laugh for the day. In hindsight, do you think the arm & knee warmers and vest were easier to put on then a full jacket? Appreciate the input.
Arm and leg warmers definitely take time. I have also used Icy Hot and similar products on my knees (just remember to wipe your hands really well or use the rub-on variety). A good, breathable jacket that is snug (not flapping in the wind) also works. It all depends on how much cold you can take on your arms and legs and how much time you are willing to sacrifice in transitions.