It’s not tiddlywinks or marbles, but it is growing in popularity in the school yard. In the last year 20,000 children participated in a triathlon event. (www.triathlon.org.nz)
March seems to be triathlon season with a number of events underway for kids to participate in, including the ever popular Weetbix Triathlon and the ‘I tri’d the tri’ series in Palmerston North.
Triathlons are a great way to introduce kids to a range of activities that will challenge their skills and abilities as well as providing the opportunity to participate. The focus of these events is to get as many children participating as possible and part of that is allowing them to set their own goals. Some kids can gain a huge sense of achievement just by reaching the finish line – for them that is winning.
Four year old, Harrison Cunningham, who has been competing in the ‘I tri’d the tri’ series says his favourite things are seeing his friends and the swimming.
“I want to try and train to get faster, and Mum has just bought me some new sneakers just for triathlons that make me go faster,” says Harrison.
Training for and completing in a triathlon is also a great way for kids to get their recommended 60 minutes of exercise a day which means; stronger muscles, increased self esteem and energy, and a more restful sleep.
So how can you help your child train for a triathlon? The first step is to find out which discipline they are weaker in and work on this. Many children have experience in running, swimming, and cycling, but tying all three together can provide a great challenge for them and for you as a parent.
The key for training is to vary your sessions as much as possible and make them fun. Lots of patience and words of encouragement are a good way to start. When training, start off small and gradually build it up. Make sure you incorporate fun into the training, for example, 10 minutes swimming in a pool with an adult followed by 30 minutes of play time in the pool.
Your kids may be great swimmers, cyclists and runners, but how good are they at switching between each activity? Transition is the one area kids are the most unfamiliar with. Teach your child what to do in each transition area, making sure they have comfortable clothing and an outfit that is suitable for all three disciplines or can easily be changed. It’s a good idea to get them to practice getting their cycle helmet on and off quickly and putting their shoes on.
Check out the distances with your child before the event, you can do this by going over a mock course. This can help the kids set a pace for themselves and give them an idea of what to expect come race day.
On race day the best thing you can give them is support! Jessica Hoskkin a participant in the recent Go Active Kids TRYathlon commented she thought the best part of the whole event was “people cheering you on.” Make sure your kids feel special with plenty of encouragement and praise. This will contribute to the sense of achievement and self-worth.
Triathlons can open up a world of many great adventures, talents and fun. If your child enjoys the one off triathlon events during March you should consider contacting our local triathlon club to see what further opportunities are available.
Manawatu Triathlon club has a range of events for beginners with an emphasis on families and participation. Regular events are listed on their website; www.triclub.co.nz
Tips for the event
Don’t wear socks – this will make transition much easier.
Mark your bike with something colourful to make it easier to find.
Get your bike checked before the event.
Ensure your helmet fits properly prior to the event.
Bring something substantial like fruit and a wholemeal sandwich to snack on after your event.
Elastic shoelaces will make it easier to get your shoes on in transition.
For more information on upcoming events please contact Sport Manawatu or visit www.sportmanawatu.org.nz