By Dawn Hintz
“An athlete cannot run with money in his pockets. He must run with hope in his heart and dreams in his head.” – Emil Zatopek.
Or as I translate it “Run like a child”. When I watch children run I see joy. I see pure satisfaction racing to the imaginary finish line. I see them run with an unbridled passion whether it’s chasing a friend or to the edge of a lake ready to plunge in.
When my eldest son, Jacob, was 9 years old he wanted to compete in his first triathlon. He completed that day with a smile that didn’t end and a passion for a sport that has the chance to keep him healthy and active for life. When he was 12 I signed him up for Athletic Mentors Youth Triathlon Program. A 6-week program that took him beyond the fundamentals of the 3 disciplines; swim, bike and running.
The same 6-week program prepared kids as young as 9 for their very first triathlon. Some of who had very little experience swimming in a lake. They were guided through a mass swim start, exiting the water and making the transition to the bike. When they returned from the 6 mile bike, they were coached through the transition to the run. And boy did they run! Every one of them ran joyously to that finish line where they triumphantly received their medal.
The Youth Triathlon Program has continued to grow. This year will be the first year of two youth groups. The first group will be for very beginner triathletes and the second group will develop teenagers who are ready to go beyond the basic triathlon introduction. While both groups will be ran side by side; each program will be tailored to that group’s needs.
The beginners will spend more time on the fundamentals of each disciple. Each training session will include a workout but more time will be spent giving a solid introduction to each of the disciplines and answering necessary questions. Swim technique will be reviewed in a pool before venturing to the lake. Then they will be taught safe road biking and transitioning to running. It will all be brought together with a miniature triathlon practice and a race course preview before the big day.
More experienced youth triathletes will follow a similar schedule with more emphasis on vigorous training. They will be guided to new levels of athleticism. These children already know how to swim, bike and run. Now they will fine tune their technique in each discipline and learn how to peak for race day.
Both groups will race the Shermanator Triathlon on August 3rd, 2019.
If your child has an interest in triathlon, this is the program to give them the best start and a joyous finish!