So, your child wants to become a triathlete… CONGRATULATIONS!
There is a lot of information out there about the risks of childhood obesity and the ways that we can prevent it in our children. It can be prevented through proper nutrition, exercise and education. Encouraging our children to participate in sports, specifically the aerobic or endurance sports, is a great way to combat aging, obesity and to keep our kids healthy and active for the rest of their lives. Specializing in one sport is not the only way to keep them healthy. They should dabble in a lot of different sports that include fine motor skill development, endurance enhancement and strength and conditioning of the whole body.
The first step to getting your child into triathlon is to understand the sport and the requirements of it. Kids races are prevalent all over the country and have recently become very publicized. Companies like Rev3 and several others have taken the extra step to encourage kids to get out there and try their first tri!
What you need to know when getting your child ready to participate in their very first triathlon is that the distances they race and train are much shorter than those that we, as adults, race and train. Kids are not miniature adults, meaning, we do not simply scale back the adult training… we emphasize skill development and shorter bursts of energy tapping into their unique physiology.Kids races are typically 30 minutes or less in duration with about a 100 yd swim, 4 mile bike and .5 mile run. The reason for this is the physiology of kids is different than that for adults. Kids under the age of 13 should not be pushed to compete in adult distance races as the risk of injury becomes much greater. We will discuss this in depth in our next blog.
The second thing you need to know is that there are coaches in many of the US sates that specialize in coaching youth and junior athletes. These coaches have had rigorous training in how to coach kids, how to keep them healthy and how to keep them safe. In order to find a coach in your region that specializes in working with youth and junior athletes please go to http://www.usatriathlon.org/elite-international/junior-elite/teams.aspx. If you do not find a listing in your region contact any of the coaches listed and they will be able to help find you a coach. Before you select a coach for your child go and visit one of their practices and make sure that coach is a good fit for your child.
Finally, the basic pieces equipment needed to complete a triathlon are:
- Swim cap
- Swim suit or tri suit
- Water bottle
- Run shoes
Most importantly, a SMILE! Triathlon should be a fun journey for your youth or junior athlete. The goal and emphasis should ALWAYS be placed on FUNdamentals and skill development, trying your best, good sportsmanship and safety.
Our next blog will focus on the reasoning for training volume and race distances for youth and junior athletes.
I will see you at the races.
Rev3 Pro Triathlete | Break Through Racing Youth Development Head Coach | Break Through Multisport Y/J HPT Assistant Coach