The triathlon is one of the more grueling and rewarding experiences for any athlete because it pushes our bodies nearly to their breaking points and the completion of one gives the athlete a sense of accomplishment that not many others will feel in their lifetimes. It is also a sport that is rising in popularity, and as it becomes more popular it also becomes more appealing to younger generations.
If your child is interested, what should you look out for as a parent to ensure their safety? Here are 10 concerns you may want to watch for as your child readies themselves for this new adventure:
- Slow and steady wins the race – The idea of so many marathons, races and triathlons is to beat out your PR (personal record), beat your opponents, and throw yourself full throttle into the race. If you are the parent of a child racing in one of these events, encourage your child to take their time and do their best. There is no shame in being unable to finish the race.
- Know your child’s limits – Many triathlons take place in the summer time, and if you live in a part of the world where summers equal blazing hot temperatures, as a parent you should be up on your basic medical knowledge. Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are two of the biggest concerns for this type of activity, so monitor your child’s effort and make sure they don’t fall ill. (http://firstaid.webmd.com/tc/first-aid-for-heatstroke-topic-overview)
- The hardest part? Swimming – Many first time triathletes are surprised to learn that the swimming portion of the event is probably the hardest. Swimming works every muscle in your body and can wear out a person quickly. It’s also the first part of the triathlon, so it’s imperative that you be able to finish the swim portion so you can move on to the biking and running portions. Make sure your kids have a good grasp on the swimming portion before throwing them to the wolves.
- Any and all injuries – Pulled muscles, skinned knees, and bumps and bruises are all part of your child’s outdoor activity, but they might be a little more common as your child becomes more interested in sports like triathlons. As a parent, it’s best to brush up on some of the common minor injuries that your kids might suffer, and to know the proper first aid for each situation. (http://kidshealth.org/parent/firstaid_safe/)
- Start with the sprint triathlons – The big triathlons aren’t something your child should tackle on their first outing. With swimming distances of more than two miles and the biking portions ranging anywhere from 50-100 miles, it’s no easy feat. If your child wants to race in a triathlon, begin with a sprint triathlon, a perfect fit for beginners. The swimming, biking and running portions are on a much smaller scale. Across the country, there are triathlons offered for children ranging from 6 to 17, which each age level focusing on that child’s skill and ability.
- The Sun – Any time spent outside training for a triathlon should come with precautions for your skin. Using plenty of sunscreen will keep the kids from burning and keep them from missing training time due to burns. Too much exposure to the sun without proper protection can possibly result in skin cancer later in life.
- Over working – If your child becomes serious about training for a triathlon, make sure to limit their exposure to the workout process. Too much swimming, biking or running can wear down a kid and lead to injuries. Be cautious and encourage your children to take their time.
- Have a set schedule – This concern falls in with #4 and #7 on this list. Having a schedule of biking, running and swimming in variation will keep them interested and keep them from getting bored. Alternating between the three events on different days will also help work different muscle groups, further preventing injury.