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Triathlon Training Tips

For kids, a triathlon is just another day to do the three things they love most (swim, bike, and run). The only difference in a triathlon is that there’s a start line and a finish line. In a triathlon your child will do a little swimming, a little cycling, and a little running (in that order). Probably much less than what they do in a typical day.

Unlike triathlons for adults where many are trying to get in shape or race, kids do triathlons because they are fun. It is our goal to keep it fun so that kids will develop a life-long passion for fitness and a healthy lifestyle.

I have listed a few helpful tips to help you and your child have the best experience possible:
  1. Always put safety first: The highest priority should always be your child’s safety no matter what activity. A safe bike, a good pair of running shoes, and always wearing a helmet that fits is important. During training, supervision is another key factor. Using greenways, parking lots, or business park loops (areas apart from traffic) are a safe way to let your child learn to cycle.

  2. If your child is not a strong swimmer now is the time to start: Your goal should be to help build your child’s endurance to the point they can cover the distance of the swim portion of the triathlon comfortably. By making games out of swimming it helps keep it fun while challenging them to swim further each time. Stroke type is not as important. The freestyle swim is the fastest and most efficient, however, it takes time to learn. An easy breaststroke works fine. If possible it is a good idea to have your child swim with a group so they know how it feels come race day. For more information on swimming, swim lessons, or swimming instruction please contact Chris Bowker at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

  3. Training volume should not be emphasized: Again, this is supposed to be fun and being stuck with a training schedule or doing excessive training is not fun for a child. Try to keep training to a minimum with short bouts of creative intensity. You could do this by having your child swim 100 meters and then run 400 meters and repeat 2,3,4 times. During a week’s training you should try to have your child do at least some training in each event each week (they should swim, bike, and run at least once each week). Doing this with friends will foster a team environment and be a lot more enjoyable.

  4. Work on pacing: Have you ever watched a kids fun run? The kids take off and about a quarter of the way around the track they all bonk. They end up slowly jogging to the finish. It is important for kids to understand the concept of pacing. You can help teach them this by taking them to the track. Run a mile with them and have them take it easy the first lap around and gradually build the next lap, and the next, and finish strong with a brisk tempo. By showing them how to pace, they’ll have a much better day.

  5. Work on transitions: The most unfamiliar aspect of the triathlon will be the transitions. Transitions are the center of where the swimming, biking, and running meet. Be prepared by having your child practice what we call bricks (combining two exercises in training). Set up an area to mimic transitions. Have them practice biking and go straight to running off the bike with short bouts (like bike 5-10 min. then run 5 min. for 1, 2 ,3 times). The best brick (short, sweet, and fun) is the swim to run. Practicing each of these two transitions will improve the chances that it will all go smoothly on race day. Come early on race day to prepare your child’s transition area. Bring two towels, one to sit on by the transition area when they change and the other for after the race and bring a full water bottle. An extra shirt or race belt with the race number pinned on it, and any clothing that your child may want to wear during the race and after. After your child’s transition area is set up and the race is about to begin no one but participants and volunteers will be allowed in the transition area.

  6. Keep it fun: Kids often resist structure and chores. However, kids enjoy games. So our goal is to take a structured sport like triathlons that require proper training and turn it into a game, and fun. Encouraging the team approach to triathlons is another huge aspect to making it fun. You can help make their training fun by acting as if they are racing for the gold medal and just won or they are about to break the swimming world record. So go out and have fun.
By: Coach Ken Bush PA-C, ATC
Please feel free to email me with any questions at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it