Socks Vs No Socks | What To Wear For Triathlon

– Working out what to wear in a triathlon race can be tricky. There’s so much more to
consider than just your trisuit. Well, I’m going to be opening up that age old debate of
socks versus no socks. So in this video, we’re going
to be looking at the pros and the cons and comparing
different race styles to help you decide which
side of the line you sit. Now, if like me, you come from a running or a cycling background, the thought of doing
that sport without socks might seem incomprehensible, not just because of the comfort level but also the unwritten
rules of that sport. But don’t worry, you’re
doing triathlon now, so you can throw those rules away. (whooshing) (upbeat music) OK, let’s start with socks
and the pros for wearing them. Well, the obvious is, they feel good. Putting on a brand new
pair of colourful socks has gotta be a good thing. And they also act as a barrier between your foot and your shoe. And if you do go for
a sport specific sock, they can even add that bit
of support to your foot. Wearing the correct pair of socks can reduce the risk of blisters
and prevent any hot spots, especially when it comes to running. And talking of hot, if you do
have the right pair of socks they can actually help your feet keep cool and vice versa you can get socks that are specialised to
keeping your feet warm if you’re competing in
really cold conditions, so they don’t turn to ice
blocks on the end of your legs. But going back to the heat, if you get that burning feeling
on the soles of your feet when you’re doing a long run on asphalt, certain socks can also reduce that. OK, I’m probably starting to
show where my allegiances align but it’s time to look at
the cons for wearing socks. Obviously, in triathlon,
time is of an essence. When it comes to transitions, you don’t want to be losing
those valuable seconds of having to dry your feet, trying to squeeze your toes
into well fitting socks and it also takes a lot of effort, you might even find if
you’re out of breath that you need to take a rest
and sit down to do this. And finally, if you’re
racing somewhere that’s hot and it’s a long race, you’ve got to think about those tan lines. It might seem like a badge
of honour at the time around your triathlon friends, but when you come to a party and you want to wear a nice dress, those tan lines mid calf
are not gonna look good. (beep) OK, maybe I was talking to
our female viewers there. Right, now it’s time to look at no socks and pros of going with that. Well the obvious one comes
to speedy transition. Now this is especially
important if you’re racing in a draught legal triathlon and you’re trying to make the
bike pack out of the swim. Now there’s no point in
having comfortable feet with your socks on if you
can just see the lead pack disappearing into the distance. But, it also looks like you mean business. It’s a sign of a tough
triathlete going without socks. And then finally, as
I’ve already mentioned, If you’re racing somewhere hot, you’re avoiding those awful tan lines. OK, you didn’t think I was gonna forget about the cons did you? Right, here we go, top of the list, or top of my list anyway, is comfort. Even if I have to wear my trainers without shoes back from training because I’ve forgotten
to take a clean pair, they start to feel a
little bit uncomfortable. And that horrible feeling
of sticky clamminess inside your shoe just isn’t nice. And talking of discomfort, unless you have a pair of shoes that fit
absolutely perfectly, then you’re gonna start to get blisters and rubs pretty quickly. Also, if you’re racing in
poor weather conditions, your feet will get cold much faster. And finally, a point
that maybe not all of you will agree with me on, you don’t get the chance
to brighten up your kit with a pair of nice looking socks. (upbeat music) So we’ve looked at the pros and the cons, it’s now time for you
to make that decision. But, there are a couple of other factors you might want to consider
such as the race type. For example, if you’re
doing a draught legal race then you’re not going to want to risk wasting any time in transition. And then you’ve got the distance
of your race to consider. The longer the race, the smaller the ratio
of transition will be and the more important comfort becomes. But, if you look at the pros, you’re not gonna see anyone
racing Olympic distance or less bothering with
socks in their transition. But then if you look at the
70.3 or middle distance races, you’ll see a mixture amongst the pros, some choosing to wear socks and some not. And then for the full distance,
the majority will wear socks at least for the run, but some
of them even for the bike. We’ve already covered the race conditions, but don’t forget that socks
can play an important part in keeping your feet warm or cool whichever it is you require. And it’s especially
important when it comes to the longer distance racing. And another area that’s worth mentioning, is socks for aero or compression gains. Now recently, we saw pro
triathlete Lucy Charles using aero socks on the bike leg in the Ironman South Africa. Now, if you think the
gains of wearing aero socks will be bigger than the
time it will take you to get the tight fitting
sock on in transition, then it’s something
definitely worth considering. And, a lot of triathletes
do use compression socks. If you’re one of those people, just remember you can’t wear
a full sock for the swim. If you’re gonna use calf
guards and it’s a wetsuit swim, then you can put them on underneath and you won’t waste time in transition. But, if it’s a non-wetsuit swim, or you do what to wear
a full compression sock, then you’ll need to consider
the time it’s gonna take you to put it on compared to the benefits you’ll have from wearing them. Finally, you need to decide whether you’re gonna use
your socks for the bike and the run or just the run. And this will also dictate
what type of sock you choose. (upbeat music) It’s time for tips. We’ll start with socks,
now it might sound silly but you need to practise
putting on your socks fast. And there is a certain knack to it. Some people will roll their
socks down in preparation. Others will fold them. It’s a personal preference. And then if you’ve got
socks that are specific to a left and right foot, make sure that you put them in or on the correct shoe to
save time in transition. And finally, there’s nothing wrong with wearing new socks on race day. But don’t experiment with
a new style or design unless you practise first. If you’re racing with no socks, you’re going to have to do some training without them as well. Now this is to get your
feet used to the feeling and they will start to
get a little bit harder. And if you have different
shoes for racing. Make sure you do at least a
couple of sessions in those. And you’ll start to identify any hot spots or areas where they might rub. And then before your race, you can put a little
Vaseline on those spots and that should help reduce
the chance of getting blisters. And then in T1, you can
have a towel ready to help dry your feet very quickly. Pop some talcum powder inside your shoes and that will help your feet slide in and also a little bit of
lubricant, such as Vaseline, on the heel just to help with
the ease of getting them on. Now you can also get some
more race specific shoes for triathlon which might
be worth considering if you’re sure you want to
do longer distance races without socks as these could be a little bit more comfortable and sometimes even have
an extra inner layer. Well, that should have helped you decide which side of the fence you sit on. Are you socks or no socks? Do let us know which you choose and why. And you probably guessed by now, that I’m a strong advocate
for wearing socks. And that is partly because
I came into triathlon starting off with the
longer distance races. But, I do have my first ever
sprint triathlon coming up. So it’s probably time I dip
my toes into going sockless. Well, if you’ve enjoyed this and you want to catch
more videos from GTN, just hit the globe to subscribe. And if you want some
similar race day hacks, we’ve made a video on that just here. And I also made a video
recently on how to run in sand and that’s just here.


  • To Sock or Not to Sock? What do you prefer?

  • When I did one of my triathlons I didn’t put socks, because I didn’t want to waste time, well when I was running I go blisters , because I could barely even run.

  • Socks aside…what kind of triathlon cycling shoes are those? Pretty slick looking!

  • sock or no sock I still suck at this sport 😂

  • At 6:34 Heather started to sound so ironic and it took me some time to understand she’s not😂😂

  • I don’t know why I watched this. I’ve always worn socks and nothing will make be change.

  • For the vast majority of us that aren't trying to podium, the "valuable seconds" argument is less valid.

    Do what's more comfortable, because comfort is KING.

    If you save 10 seconds in transition by forgoing socks, but then run 5 minutes slower due to discomfort, that's hardly worthwhile.

    I'll always root for Team Socks.

  • no socks for sprint distance,socks for longer distance.

  • I'm not sure about the answer yet but one question that I have is, "Why do you lace your shoes in the way that you do?"

  • Sorry but there is something wrong with calling a 4+ hour 70.3 race “middle distance” considering races of 600-1200m are the middle distance events. They need to draw the line at Olympic, since after all it is in the middle of the 5 main distances.

  • Free after Shakespeare: Sock or not sock, that's the question 😀
    Good video, Heather!

  • Socks! Always!


  • Normally go sockless for sprints and olys so decided to go sockless racing today up a mountain & back. BIG mistake. Was fine going up by the friction on the descent has ripped my feet to pieces.

  • In the wet, I easily get blisters in any shoe when I am not wearing socks. In OD, whatever, but I would not risk an MD with no socks in the wet.

  • In longer races, especially in inclement weather, it might be worth putting an extra pair of socks in the run shoes as you might want to refresh in T2.

  • No socks for Olympic and below. But yes to socks for training and duathlon

  • No socks, just to show off 😀

  • I've done 4 triathlons all at sprint distance and all sockless. My feet just about cope for 3 miles without socks, but they're getting introduced for my first standard this summer. Who knows if I think it speeds me up I may consider them for all future races. Plus my bright green socks have been my trademark look for a good few years!

  • No socks for my Sprint & Olympic distance tri's.

  • If you're doing any form of an ironman I seriously couldn't see anybody going without socks, to be honest. 5-15 Seconds to slip on socks is more beneficial than being uncomfortable for a long time.

  • On the bike: no socks, on the run: no socks for a sprint distance, anything longer than that, I'll wear socks

  • This is really weird because I consider socks way more uncomfortable and hot and sticky!

  • Did my first middle distance race with no socks, as I had before on all previous shorter races. The run was on gravel trails and it was pouring with rain. Rain washed all the grit down into my shoes and turned the insides into sand paper. Didn't bother me too much during the race but it was an absolute blood bath when I took them off at the end. So socks for wet / off road middle distance races is my new rule

  • Racing without socks 😉

  • What pair of cycling shoes do you use? Also socks all the way.

  • Toilet paper in the "restroom stations" on a Tri-distance: fold or crumple? Any particular preferences for sprint, olympic, half and full ironman? Iron brush for Ironman?

  • Socks!! I have had far too many blisters to risk my feet to save 10 seconds

  • I chose socks because no socks sucks

  • Heather, what are those laces? They look pretty neat, and will save time in T2 as well, but is it snug when it comes to fitting?

  • Olympic distance and less NO socks! It's not that hard if you practice a few times. I find it is important to make sue you feet are free of small pebbles and sand before putting on your shoes. I just run one hand around my feet quickly to make sure they are free of debris.

  • "For me, personally always Socks … Once i did try no socks then feel really uncomfortable and blister. After that, waste a few secs to put my feet is better"

  • Since I have started running and triathlon I have always ran without socks
    I feel way more confortable without and even get blasters with it !
    The worst for me is… the smell haha
    That for me the only con for not wearing socks
    Also because I think my shoes fit perfectly my feet…

  • Do they have a video on different ways of tying running shoes? I keep seeing different ways in their videos and out on the road.

  • I've tried both. One thing I do know is be careful choosing socks if your planning to a flying mount. Those Velcro straps on the tri cycling shoes stuck to my socks, which made the start of the bike leg interesting

  • If you have a problem with the lines on your feet then why in hell would you wear this ultra long socks ?
    I use the ones that barley cover my ankle

  • No socks for an Oly or 70.3. Do 1 run a week without socks to get your feet used to the friction. Increase/decrease the number of times you wear socks for your runs depending on how used to it you want your feet to be.

  • My simple rules, no socks from Sprint to Olympic. Socks for Ironman, as I tend to opt for long compression socks and transitions are about comfort and not about speed.

  • I apply pawpaw cream to the insides of my shoes, especially around the rim and tongue which has stopped any chance of blisters, especially when doing aquathlon.

    General preference is socks for anything over 5km though, run only, wouldnt want to be seen on the bike with socks on

  • Yes you can wear compression socks in wet suit legal race. Wet socks don’t make much of difference in Tri shoes and they’ll be perfectly dry for run. Just don’t wear your favorite pair of socks when doing this

  • Why not wear no show socks. No tan line and no blisters

  • Depend on the race distance but i definitely wear a sock for duathlon race

  • Definitely try out running without socks before race day. Some shoes are fine to run in without socks, some will destroy your feet.

  • I was hoping someone would mention Lucy Charles in SA running through transition in her cycling shoes, quite the break of the mold.

  • 2:50 trainers without shoes? 🤔

  • Just did my first 70.3 and I needed socks. But I also use them in my Sprints. I’m no pro though but it gives me warm fuzzies and actually comfort.

  • Socks….always blizters when i am not wearing them

  • Socks! I put comfort above T times.

  • No socks on the bike. Always socks on the run.

  • Socks all the way

  • Hmmm… I more worried about hot concrete during transition from swim to bike. I have heard of people getting blisters. I will be doing my first Sprint soon and the temperature is getting close to the 100 F here.

  • What brand of running shoes are you using?

  • I prefer socks, because it cushions the feet if you get a little stone in your shoe.

  • Are there triathlon specific running shoes?

  • I am definitely a sock person, BUT, I managed to forget to leave my socks in transition in the Nepean Triathlon I did last weekend! Hence, I have a lovely blister now. I think if you're going to run without socks, you definitely need to have trained without them beforehand (and build up that foot hardiness)… For cycling though, I'm not as wary – I have practiced a bit without socks, and have found no problems. Though for the half IM I have coming up in November, I think I'll go socks for the bike too!

  • I like more without socks.

  • The only drawback for me not wearing socks is it makes my feet stink bad.

  • No socks. I have been wearing Vibram FiveFingers for a couple of years now so I am used to no socks. I run altra escalante 1.5 on the road and ride Giro Techne.

  • I did a sprint triathlon without socks once, didn't really clean my feet from the sand on the beach on the swim course, had bloody feet for a week

  • Apply "second skin" on your feet before the race.

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