On Saturday, all three of my girls, ages 10, 8 & 5, will participate in a youth triathlon. This is a re-post of a fitness column I wrote for a local newspaper on Kids Triathlons:
Children are natural triathletes. By age 2 they’re off and running and by 7 most have learned to ride bikes and swim.
According to an article in The New York Times, it’s not only adults who have been flocking to triathlons; youth triathlons have become tremendously popular, with USA Triathlon, the sport’s governing body, reporting that it had 36 percent more members under 18 in 2008 than in 2006.
Last summer, two of my daughters, ages 9 and 7, expressed an interest in triathlon. We registered them for the TRI-TO “WIN-THE-FIGHT” Kids Triathlon in Frederick and spent a few days “training” for the event by swimming at the YMCA, riding bikes and running around the neighborhood.
The Frederick triathlon was a fun event that, according to its website, offers a safe, non-competitive triathlon experience for children, and more importantly, provides important lessons on staying “safe” in the sun. Children in the 9-under age division completed a 100-meter pool swim, a two-mile residential bike course and a .75-mile run on park paths.
My 7-year-old sprinted through the finish chute with a big smile on her face before promptly asking, “Where’s the food?” My 9-year-old’s first words upon finishing the race? “When can I do another one?”
With childhood obesity on the rise, regular participation in physical activities is encouraged as a means to promote and maintain good health. Triathlon not only combines three things kids like to do, but swimming, biking and running are lifetime sports that, according to beginnertriathlete.com, “provide an excellent means to obtain vigorous activity and develop a lifelong love of physical activity.” The site also notes that The American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation that triathlons for children and adolescents be designed with an emphasis on fun and safety.
Many local groups, including Racine Multisport, which hosts the Hagerstown Youth Triathlon, now offer triathlons geared toward children that emphasize fun and fitness and allow first-time triathletes to experience a positive introduction to the world of multisport.
The Maryland Youth Triathlon Series, which promotes sun-safe practices, encourages healthy lifestyle choices through multisport and shows kids that winning is finishing what you start, was formed to increase awareness of Melanoma skin cancer among adolescents and young adults and support the Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation.
The Series kicks off with the Frederick race in May and continues through August with events held in Annapolis, Columbia and Mount Airy. All proceeds benefit Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation.
My first triathlon was over a decade ago. It was a sprint distance and I raced on a mountain bike. I took a break from the sport to raise my children. When the baby turned two, I decided to rediscover my own interests again. Four years later, through equipment changes, injuries and the challenges of raising a family, I've set my sights on the Iron Man and would like to share the journey--however long and painful it may be. Hope you enjoy the blog and thanks for reading.