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!
Shelly O’Brien is a USAT Level 3 International Elite Coach and the owner of IconOne Multisport (Icon1multisport.com).