The sport of triathlon has officially outgrown the grownups. Youth and high school triathlons, elite junior competitions, kids-only meets, triathlons camps and USA Triathlon Foundation's in-depth program targeting and attracting young athletes at every level of interest is good news for the sport's strong future. USA Triathlon has nearly 40,000 17-and-under members, nearly double the 23,000 registered 10 years ago. Parents want healthy, active children and triathlon is a great way to combine three fun sports the love with exercise they need.
Besides exercise, here are three reasons for kids to "tri":
It's a workout that gives back
Many triathlons are also local fundraisers. Your child's morning of swimming, cycling and running is a life lesson in contributing to their community.
2. Leave the digital world for the real world
Kids love their screens and video games, so introduce them to high-tech triathlon gear, like a smart watch or a digitally-integrated helmet or pair of sunglasses. The difference is the triathlon gets them off the couch.
3. Teaches the life lessons of goal-setting, perseverance...and failure
Kids learn that getting on the podium takes daily practice and dedication, pushing themselves more every day to conquer both fear and distance. And failure is part of the equation, from a flat tire to broken shoelaces to stomach cramps. One bad race isn't the end of the game, just the start of a new one.
Your child's first triathlon: three things to remember
It's about the kid, not you
As the parent, you're the support system, cheerleader and sympathetic ear, not the wannabe athlete. Most event directors allow parents to help their child set up transition, but when the whistle blows, you're out and they're on their own. You all worked hard for this, but the triathlon is their alone time.
2. Health and wellness issues
Know the weather conditions and be prepared. Children are at greater risk for heat stroke and heat exhaustion because their smaller size means less release of body heat through sweating. Keep your child hydrated and if they experience any of these symptoms, pull them from competition and seek medical treatment immediately.
3. It's fun first and a competition second
The first triathlon's focus is finishing. Competing alongside friends brings an element of racing for position and bragging rights, but real satisfaction is completing the event after months of hard work, early bedtimes, hot, wet or cold workouts and sacrificing other activities. Proudly celebrate the achievement, enjoy the moment and plan the next one together.
Element Multisport offers everything for youth and adult competitors, beginners to elite level athletes. Our staff's expertise provides guidance on bikes, bike repairs and service, tech gear, helmets, tri suits, running shoes, nutrition and gear rental. See us online, come in or call us and we'll help the entire family "tri" their best.