How Can I Get My Kids Interested In Triathlon?

  • By Shelly O’Brien
  • Published Jul 9, 2012
  • Updated Oct 24, 2012 at 3:44 PM UTC

Coach Shelly O’Brien gives advice on sharing your love for triathlon with your children.

Q: How can I get my kid(s) into multisport so we can share the triathlon lifestyle as a family?

A: The greatest challenge for parents is to invite themselves into a youth training plan instead of incorporating the young athlete into an adult-oriented plan. This means that the parents must learn and evaluate youth-appropriate workouts and racing opportunities instead of applying adult themes to training. I understand this would be a complete reversal for many multisport families.

Some activities you can do together:

Spend time at a bike shop and learn basic maintenance.
Have sprint relays or sprint-only workouts in swim/bike/run.
Incorporate transition-only workouts—who is faster?
– In all phases, play games. How long can you vertically kick in the water? Who can ride a straight line in a parking lot on the white line? Or who can hop over cones the best?
While riding the bike, challenge yourselves to small-ring-only races for 5–15 minutes at a time.
– Spend time stretching or participating in a yoga class with the young athlete.
Participate in body-weight-only strength training. How long can you hold a plank position?
Go grocery shopping. Have the young athlete make a list and locate those items.
Take a cooking class.
Choose a super-sprint and do a family relay.
Be creative! Invite other neighborhood kids to play.

As a positive benefit, you, the adult, may find your own performances improve!

Photos: Tri-Loving Kids

Shelly O’Brien is a USAT Level 3 International Elite Coach and the owner of IconOne Multisport (

FILED UNDER: Getting Started / Training

Sign up for our free e-newsletter, SBR Report!

Subscribe to the FREE Triathlete newsletter