How to prepare for a kid's triathlon:
Training and preparing for three different sports in one can be a little more intimidating than deciding to do a kid's running race or local 5K. Three sports are a little more difficult to balance. So we've come up with some tips to help parents and kids better prepare for a kids triathlon. This is not intended to be a regimented training plan, but simply some ideas that you can do as a family to better prepare your kids for the triathlon.
- At the beginning of summer start being more active outdoors with your kids. Go on family walks, bike rides, or even go to the pool together. While on these family outings you can challenge your kids to races with dad or mom for short distances. This will get the kids used to giving a little more effort that they might be used to. Start short, then move to longer races.
- It would be good to take these outings in a local park where you don't have to watch traffic. In Conway, Tucker Creek bike trail and Laurel Park are excellent places to "train". Laurel Park is especially good if you have smaller children not doing the race, they can play on the playground while you and your other child(ren) ride or run.
- "Cross Training" is also great fun. You don't have to swim, bike, or run all the time. Try playing soccer, throwing a Frisbee or football, going on a family hike, or any other activity that gets you all moving together.
- While it is good to have outdoor activity with your kids every day, you don't need to do all three sports every day. It is more than enough to do each sport once or twice per week.
- Work on the sport that your child may not be to sure of in a positive and fun way, no pressure.
- If your child struggles in the water, you may want to get a private swim lesson or two just to give them the confidence they need to swim the distance.
- By about late June, you should build these fun family outings to where you are swimming, riding, or running the actual distances or further that they will be racing. There is no need to do "two a days" or to try and do all three in a day. Remember these are a lot more fun as family outings, but if you have smaller children who are not doing the race, it might be good for the older child(ren) to get some special one on one time with mom or dad to "train" for the race.
- In late July it would be good for you and your child do a bike followed by a run. This is the closest thing to a workout you will do together, and it is called a "brick workout" because your legs feel like a load of bricks when you try to run after riding your bike. Remember to make it fun, you're not training for the Olympics. Do a few bricks (one a week) starting with shorter distances and working up to the actual race distances.
Also in late July you should practice the transitions with your child. Most people don't think about preparing for the time between the sports, but this is where most confusion occurs. Here are a few specific things to prepare your child for.
- Locating their own spot. It is good to use a favorite or colorful towel to help your child locate their spot in transition area. There are going to be a lot of bikes in there and even though our volunteers are great at helping the kids to their bikes, it helps if the kids have a bright or fun towel to look for.
- Practice putting your shoes and socks on (you don't have to wear socks if you don't want) with wet feet. You might get a set of "speed laces". These are elastic shoelaces that allow you to get into your shoes a lot easier. You can pick a pair up at your local running store (The Sporty Runner if you live in Conway).
- Teach your kids how to run/walk with their bikes. They are not allowed to ride them in the transition area. It is good to use some tape and set out a mount/dismount line to get them to practice running their bike to it and getting on/off their bike at the line.
- Make sure you have all of the necessary equipment you will need on race day (goggles, bike helmet, towel, running shoes, socks if you want them) and practice with it. This will familiarize you and your child with everything so you'll be less likely to forget items on race morning.
- You could have a lot of fun setting up a virtual transition area and racing each other through it.
- In early August if you live in or near Conway, it would be good for you and your child to at least visit the course and if possible do the course together as a family. Familiarity will bring much comfort.
- Make sure your child's bike is in safe and proper working condition. Keep air in the tires, the chain lubricated, and all bolts and such properly fastened or adjusted. You may want to take your child's bike to your local bike shop 2-3 weeks prior to the race for a tune up if you need help (The Ride if you live in Conway).