Swim. Bike. Run. Does your child enjoy all three? If so, you may have a future triathlete on your hands. Among the fastest-growing sports in the world, triathlon can be a great way to get and stay in shape no matter one’s age, and the camaraderie in the sport can be unmatched. So, what’s the best way to introduce your kids to this sport taking the world by storm?
Get familiar, and get inspired!One of the best ways to suggest or test out a child’s interest in triathlon is to bring them to one. Volunteering or just attending as a spectator are wonderful ways to see how a race is run, and to see the difficulties and enjoyment that can come from participating. Volunteering is perhaps the best way to go if you and your child have a few hours to spare, because athletes of all ages tend to make a point of acknowledging the assistance of any little ones along the course – a great motivator if your child isn’t quite sure about trying an event on their own just yet.
Get Behind ThemIf your kids are raring to go, be sure to have them start slow – overuse injuries are just as common in children as they are in adults, and training for three sports at once is a wonderful way to overtax the body. The swim event is typically the most challenging for athletes of all ages, so consider swim lessons, or even a coach to help with proper form. Good form is the key to quick racing, and stamina comes with practice. A coach can help them develop at a pace that is comfortable, yet effective. Outside the pool, be sure your child gets enough rest between workouts and keeps their training to distances less than or equal to their planned event distance. Most of all, be supportive and encouraging!
Get the Right GearTriathlon for adults has a reputation for being expensive. There are expensive bikes to purchase – wetsuits, team and individual training, physical therapy… the list can be intimidating. For kids, though, it doesn’t have to be this way. Until your children exit the fun stage of triathlon and start becoming competitive, you won’t need to spend tremendous money on gear. Their current bike, as long as it’s in good working order and comfortable to ride, is sufficient for the bike course. Beyond that, they’ll need a good pair of running shoes, and a wetsuit if they’re going to be doing any open water swims.
And, that’s it! Before long, if you’re not a triathlete yourself, you might be itching to join in on the fun! For more on triathlon, check out Triathlon magazine’s Parent’s Manual