Most kids love to swim, bike, and run around like maniacs. This is just common knowledge. However; if you have a triathlete in your family, they will see these actions as the foundation for a triathlete.
With my triathlete-husband’s encouragement, our 7-year old daughter decided she wanted to try to do triathlons and duathlons this summer. So, we embarked on a summer of multisport training. Here are some of the ways we’ve worked with her so far. (Now – while we have encouraged her – this has always been her choice. We have three children and she’s the only one that has shown any interest in this so far. We aren’t forcing it on the other ones because we know that would backfire on us in the end.)
You’re basically teaching them to take their favorite activities as a kid and carry it into adulthood, there’s no easier way to encourage fitness than that!
This is my daughter’s easiest discipline. She’s been doing 5Ks for a year now. I typically will run transitions with her, running for 5 minutes and walking for 1 minute. We try to go out for at least 1 mile, never more than 3 miles.
She may be the best at running, but cycling is her favorite. We typically do a 3-5 mile ride, going out and back on our local greenway. She’s still new on a bike without training wheels so we’ve not braved street-riding with her yet. But we hope to by the time summer is over.
This is the area our daughter has needed the most help, so we called in the professionals and put her in swim lessons at the YMCA. It’s really the swim that keeps us from signing her up for real triathlons. We think she may be ready next summer.
A brick workout refers to training for two disciplines in one workout. These are very important because the sensation of biking after a swim, or running after a bike, is a very strange one. It’s important to learn to run on tired legs. Nyoka and I have been doing bricks on Sundays. We typically ride 4-5 miles and then run less than a mile.
On top of learning to do the three disciplines on top of each other, you also have to learn to transition between them. We tend to practice at the track and we teach her to set up everything she needs in her pile in the order she needs it. I just started doing triathlons this year and I’m still very slow in transitions. As an example of the range of transitions, my husband can do his in under a minute. I’ve taken as many as three minutes to do mine!
Nyoka did her first kid’s triathlon in June – it was called the Pesky Piranha. Her next event is the Racin’ the Station kid’s duathon in September and she’s really hoping to be able to at least do a relay for the Soggy Seals triathlon at the YMCA.
Keep in mind, most triathlons have relay options so if you have a child who does one discipline well but not others… consider building a family team! You’re basically teaching them to take their favorite activities as a kid and carry it into adulthood, there’s no easier way to encourage fitness than that!
Photo Credits: Gregg Gelmis of We Run Huntsville