As a triathlete and coach, I find it very easy to work with kids. It’s really hard to change fitness habits with adults, but kids are easier to change. Plus kids can be good influences on their parents. The sport of triathlon gives them a break from the video games and are an alternative to the youth mainstay sports of soccer, football, basketball and baseball/softball.
Swimming, riding their bikes and running around are three things kids do anyway. String them together, one after another, and time them and you have a triathlon.
For the past eight years the Tri-Warriors Triathlon Club has hosted about 150 kids ranging from 6 to 15 years old. The Tri-Warriors Youth Triathlon is short on distance, but heavy on fun and safety. In fact, most years our volunteers outnumber our participants. From standing in the pool, looking after the swimmers, to helping them put on their shoes and bike helmets in the transition area, our volunteers help through the entire event.
A unique aspect of triathlons vs. swimming, running or biking separately, is that triathlons teach kids how to switch gears and make transitions. Kids can have fun learning how to mount and dismount a bike more efficiently or how to go from swimming to riding the bike wet.
Crossing that finishing line is also an immediate confidence boost. Beyond the medals at the finish line, triathlons test resolve and show participants what they are capable of. Crowds show up to cheer participants, which is a definite morale booster, and kids also gain from the competition and motivation of the other participants. Kids learn that completing a triathlon isn’t about winning: it’s about the personal challenge and having fun.
For most of the kids participating it is their first triathlon, and the exciting thing is they usually bring the whole family. So their parents often leave inspired. We have so many more excuses to avoid getting fit when we’re adults, we get attached to our issues. But kids can let those go. The earlier kids know they can get fit, the better. And if this attitude works it way to their parents, whether they do a triathlon or not, is an exciting way to start a new healthy lifestyle for that family.
So if you’re a parent of a child looking for a fun and safe event to get them involved with, and maybe you’re also looking for a little inspiration and motivation for yourself, consider the 2018 Tri-Warriors Youth Triathlon on Aug. 25 on the campus of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Information and registration can be found at www.triwarriors.com.
Mike DeCinti is the Race Director for the Tri-Warriors Youth Triathlon, three-time Ironman finisher, fitness coach and believer that your child is more than ready to swim, bike and run their way to a healthy lifestyle.