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July 20-21, 2013 Tri Fest Weekend
How to get started and to the finish line
Getting Kids Involved in an Active, Healthy and Natural Lifestyle
The articles can be found below and are also available at www.adksportsfitness.com
Triathlon & Multi-Sport Racing
How to get started and to the finish line
By John Slyer
Triathlon has become a very visible sport since the 2000 Olympics and the expansion of Ironman and Xterra off-road triathlons. The attraction of many different types of individuals who participate in this sport has spurred an astonishing growth in the sport in the past five years. Triathlon is a lifestyle and it’s healthy and fun!
The fact is that triathlon and multi-sport events can be accomplished successfully by almost anyone who is willing to put in some time and energy to learn and prepare. I have seen folks who were out of shape get motivated and complete their first triathlon with just a few months of training. I have also seen folks who are experts in one sport push themselves and learn one or two new sports with great success while following some basic training principals. Triathlon is truly for everyone from elite athletes to physically challenged individuals to couch potatoes and everyone in between. All you need is a swimsuit, goggles, bicycle, helmet, running shoes, some training and a desire to get to the finish line.
What is Triathlon?
Most triathlons are composed of an open water swim, a road or mountain bike ride, and a run on roads or trails. If you include the two transitions between the swim, bike and run you actually have four skills to develop and hone. The table includes approximate event distances and weekly training time for those events.
Why Get Hooked on Triathlon?
For some, to become a triathlete is to have a dream of doing something harder than they have ever done before. Most people get a real sense of satisfaction in successfully completing something that is challenging. Most also stay involved because of the benefits. You probably won’t become a pro but you will have fun, relieve stress, maintain fitness, make new friendships and become more energized as you adopt a healthy lifestyle. What happens to people who have completed triathlons is amazing emotionally. As first time triathletes cross the finish line, they also push their personal limitations to a higher level.
How to Get Started
Train smart and you will progress faster than if you go out and hammer yourself immediately. Start slowly with low intensity and gradually increase your duration and intensity. Educate yourself about each sport and focus on proper techniques before you even think about trying to go fast. Efficiency is much more important than speed especially when you are developing skills that you have not yet perfected. Remember that if you practice something improperly, you will make it harder to change it later on. “Practice makes permanent” really is the rule so be careful not to practice anything with poor form. There are drills that can help you develop proper skills by isolating muscles and movements.
Research the skills and drills you need. There are lots of training books available and the web is full of information and even on-line coaching. Get involved with a club, group or coach that can give you feedback and advice. The Capital District Triathlon Club (www.cdtriclub.org) has organized workouts and regular training triathlons every Tuesday night at Crystal Cove in Averill Park.
The first skills you need to focus on are your weaknesses. If you have not been active for a while you will need to take a gradual approach and be patient. First, build a base that involves getting aerobic exercise four to six times a week. Work on your weakest skill for a good portion of the time while continuing to develop and maintain the other skills you already have. As you become comfortable increasing your duration at lower intensities, try pushing up your intensity once a week in each discipline while maintaining the best form you can. Once your form begins to break down, slow down and correct it before speeding up again. Doing a few short intervals in any sport is one good way to increase speed while maintaining form.
One of the best tools I have used for training has been my heart rate monitor. The benefit is that you get instant feedback so you can control your intensity and train at an appropriate level. Many new athletes find it difficult to gauge how aerobically hard they are going and they run themselves into burnout or injury. A heart rate monitor can help keep you at the get fit faster.
Developing a workout habit, getting rest, eating properly and varying your routine are important to avoid burnout. Plan your training and log your training. I find it easiest to look at the race(s) I want to complete and then work backwards to schedule my training into three- or four-week periods. Periodizing is a training technique that basically builds in rest and recovery time needed for the body to become faster and feel better. A four-week period may be to train 6 hours week one, 8 hours week two, 10 hours week three and 4-5 hours week four for recovery. Periodizing is also done for each training week and usually involves one or two higher intensity days followed by a slower recovery day.
It is important that you are confident that you can complete each leg of the race on its own before you start doing combined swim/bike, bike/run or swim/bike/run workouts.
By the time you are one or two weeks from the race you should do a practice triathlon or two at lower intensity and at shorter distances than the actual race. The week before a race should be tapered so that you have less training time (duration) but higher intensity workouts. Take the day before race day off and relax. Drink lots of water and don’t eat too much roughage or anything exotic. Check all of your gear, especially your bike. It is best to not use new gear for the first time on race day. Try to rehearse your transitions by getting everything ready on a towel so that you can actually practice what you will need to do in the transition area. Finally, pack everything up early in the evening so you’re not up till midnight second-guessing yourself. Go to sleep early so you can get to the race at least 90 minutes before the start to get yourself organized.
On race day, eat a modest meal about 2 hours before the start. Arrive early and check in. Check everything again as you set up your gear in the transition area. Walk from the swim finish into the transition area, counting the bike racks to where your bike is. Go to the pre-race meeting and about 20 minutes before the race, head to the swim start, drink some sports drink and get yourself ready. Stay focused remembering to relax and have fun. You have done the preparation and you are going to do your best. No matter what happens you will be a better person for your efforts. Your first triathlon finish line is only as far away as you make it. Your only limits are self-imposed; success is just a little effort away. Once you’ve seen the finish line you will never be the same.
John Slyer is a science teacher at Shaker Junior High, 3 time Ironman USA finisher, Xterra Off-Road Triathlon Race Director, and YMCA swim and triathlon coach. He lives in Averill Park, NY with his wife and two girls, who all love to be outdoors and active.
Getting Kids Involved in an Active, Healthy and Natural Lifestyle
By John Slyer
Finding time to get outside and run around has become very challenging for many kids and families. With most children in the US growing up with both parents working, kids’ lives are structured more than ever. Many children get up early with their parents and go to daycare before school even starts. They then spend seven hours in school where they frequently are not allowed to run free during recess, if they still even have a recess time at their school. After school, kids have homework to do and often go to other structured after-school programs until their parents pick them up, feed them, and get them to even more structured evening activities. By the time the weekend comes around both kids and parents are so wiped out that many sit in front of the TV or computer. How do we get kids to be more active, healthy and aware of themselves, others and the natural world?
Exposure to nature and the outdoors has always been an essential part of my life and the lives of many others. Nonetheless, more and more young people I work with seem to be removed from real interactions with nature and they spend more time isolated from the environment and from each other than ever. There are many causes of this growing isolation and yet its impact is only beginning to be understood. As a parent, teacher and outdoor educator I teach my children that all living things, including all of us, are literally made from the earth, sky, water, wind, sun and the universe and we are all connected and interdependent. Although most accept my scientific and philosophical position, they are often so disconnected from their own natural settings and from each other that many seem lost in their own yards and neighborhoods. According to Richard Louv, author of “Last Child in the Woods” (2005), within the past few decades, the way children experience nature has changed radically. Is what Louv refers to as “Nature-Deficit Disorder” impacting you and your family? If so, what can you do to address it?
I believe that the best way to begin to form a healthier, active life is to just get moving outside as much as possible. With high demands on our time it is vital that we schedule time to be outside, active and engaged with others. I actually schedule my outside time right on my calendar so that it can’t be overlooked. It may seem a bit crazy to schedule time as “free time” but I have found that with so much going on, I need to make sure that the free time is really there.
Getting outside benefits everyone, especially with very young children. Taking the time to provide wilderness opportunities creates healthy, active learning that cannot be replaced with a virtual experience or video. Getting very young children and even infants camping, skiing, swimming, hiking, biking… is a planning challenge but the long term impact is impressive. Developing an active outdoor habit requires some planning and preparation and being organized about it makes a child’s life active from the start.
Make it FUN!!! Allowing yourself and others to get dirty, muddy, and wet should become more than OK, it should be part of the outing. I love to take my kids and campers through puddles on bikes and on foot and we explore swamps and streams whenever we can. At times its great to just lay back on a trail and listen to the sounds of nature or catch some frogs, crayfish, newts, fireflies… It’s great to be drawn in and discover something you did not expect.
Get rid of excuses and reasons that you or your kids can’t be out and active. We’ve all used excuses for not getting outside; it’s going to rain, snow, be too hot, humid; I feel tired, sick, rundown, stressed out; it takes too much time, work, equipment, its too dangerous, costly, far. “Forget about it” (why you can’t get going) and focus on just getting out and doing it today. Plan on being outside in all types of weather all year long and only cancel if absolutely necessary.
Be an optimist and enjoy an outing’s challenges and the difficulties, these are what make lasting memories and fun stories. I believe that its better to head out even if I’m not feeling my best and in fact, I’ve had some of my most memorable experiences and best races on days when I felt awful in the morning. I also believe that enjoying the journey is so much more important than fixating on the planned destination or activity. If things don’t go as planned then just enjoy whatever you are doing and have fun with whomever you are with.
As I reflect back on my childhood I now realize that one of the greatest gifts my parents gave my brothers and me were both the time and permission to explore the natural world. My love for the outdoors started with my parents letting us play in the woods. They loved to get us out of the city for the summers and would find campgrounds on or near small farms where we could “help” the farmers with chores and learn from them. It might sound primitive but living in a tent for weeks, getting up to the crow of a rooster and going to sleep with bullfrogs croaking and crickets chirping is an awesome gift that I still cherish. My brothers and I looked forward to catching crayfish in the creek, swinging from trees, building campfires, jumping into haystacks, cooking out, telling stories and so much more. It was truly a time of miracle and wonder with some bumps and bruises too.
Many of us grew up spending lots of unsupervised time exploring our neighborhoods, yards, fields, woods, creeks and ponds. My brothers and I would set out on outdoor adventures virtually every day of the year. We would become pirates, mountain climbers, soldiers, pioneers, and explorers of unknown lands, we could be anything we imagined. When there was no school, we would spend the days out and about with our friends, stopping home only to get a bite for lunch and to get supplies for more adventures. We hiked, biked, built forts, played in the creeks and climbed trees. When dinnertime came or the sun was setting we hoped that our daily adventure would not come to an end and our night adventures would soon begin keeping us active and occupied until bedtime. We went sleigh riding under the stars, caught night crawlers, played flashlight tag or hide and seek until we were called in for bed.
Growing up outside taught us more about the real world than we ever imagined and we still reap the physical, intellectual, psychological and even spiritual benefits from our interactions with nature and each other. This is what I hope to pass on to my children and everyone with whom I work.
4Our family has created a way to reward each other with time, activities, and “toys” that will get us outside. The importance of our gifts is that it gets us out to enjoy each other in an active, healthy way. Providing children with healthy, active choices should start early and really depends on the parents. My oldest daughter, Julia, wished to alpine ski race when she was a tiny tot so my wife and I found ways to make it happen for her, now her passion for skiing engages and excites our entire family all winter long. I believe that her love for skiing has also led her to be more active and engaged with the natural world than many young children sitting in front of the TV on Saturday morning.
8Let your children get involved by having them lead a trip or game outside. Letting our four year old daughter, Caroline, lead a hike up Mt. Rainier may sound crazy, but it led to a wonderful trip that brought our family up to Nickle Creek and into the snowline. As the hike progressed we realized that her leadership on this hike was more important than the hike. She found a hiking stick for each of us and went through a half dozen herself. We didn’t just hike through with the destination in mind and we did not necessarily go as far or get as much exercise as we had planned but it was worth every second. We discovered, as a family, a small portion of a great mountain and this has spurred more storytelling and outdoor engagement than we ever could have expected. Caroline is now our outdoor poet and artist.
13Children learn so much from relaxing outside. They learn to become keen observers and notice things that they will never be able to learn in any other way except to experience them. Our youngest daughter, Ruby, has developed a keen sense of hearing and points out the sounds of birds that I may not even notice. The sound of the changing wind before a storm, the change in the smell of the air as the seasons change, the taste of the sweet shaft of grass plucked from the field and the sights and colors of the ever-changing sky. The lessons of nature are infinite and are best discovered in a relaxed fashion where time constraints are not stressed and other distractions are minimized.
14When kids spend time outside, they learn that there are consequences for their actions. In a day and age where we feel the threat of lawsuits breathing down our back, we need to be brave enough to give kids responsibility and trust them. They will screw up and they will get hurt from time to time. Nonetheless, they will not be stronger, more responsible or truly safer if they are locked inside.
15Although we have more ways to communicate, we are in such a technology-rich age that it’s hard to find the time to really connect with ourselves, others and nature. Its true that technologies make our lives simpler in many ways; nonetheless, many of us are finding that it is actually stealing time from our lives because we can not get away from work.
There are many factors that account for our loss of connection to nature. Work, school, technology and others divert us from spending time outside but FEAR seems to paralyze many of us. We have been freaked out to the point of neurosis. We don’t let our kids go outside to play because we have seen something horrible on TV. We fear that they will be injured or harmed while playing outside and yet many of us don’t even realize the harm that occurs from their exposure to
How to fight sensory isolation?
Don’t let them tune out.
Put away the ear plugs, electronics, air conditioning, TV…
The benefits of getting dirty and wet.
Refresh, play in the mud, sand and earth, catch some worms…,
Strategies to get kids to be curious, healthy and active in the natural world.
We are made from the earth, the sky, the water, the wind, the sun and the universe and we have potential to impact everything that makes us. This is literally true.
How do we help our children and ourselves grow into a healthier, more active lifestyle? At birth, we begin to develop patterns of thinking and behavior that help us develop our values, opinions, perspectives, and our physical and psychological habits. We begin to develop our patterns for activity or inactivity and interaction or isolation from others and the real world at a very young age. If being active and engaged outside begins at infancy, it’s usually set for life. For those who spend most of their lives indoors away from the “real world”, it takes much more effort and energy to change but it is quite possible. These habits or patterns, whether positive or negative, become a driving force in determining who we are and the quality of our lives. Once positive changes have been made, it is important to reinforce them regularly.
12Growing up outside is becoming a rare experience for our children. Even my own children have less exposure than I’d like to give them. As an outdoor educator, camp director, and science teacher, I have found that young people are isolated from the outdoors and from actual interactions with their environment now more than ever. The impact of young people being cooped up indoors for hours, days, months and even years, spending time with television, computers, video games, and music being pumped into their heads with ear phones is leading to more isolation than ever. Why do our young people feel so isolated and how can we begin to help them?
By John Slyer
Whether you’ve bee active this winter or not, now is the perfect time to prepare for a full season of multi-sport events.
Why do a Triathlon?
It’s lots of fun, relieves stress, maintains fitness, establishes friendships and energizes those who participate. As triathletes cross the start and finish line, they also push past their perceived personal limits. Multi-sport events can be accomplished successfully by anyone who is willing to put some time and energy into it. I’ve seen novices quickly become experts and have great success in a season or two. Triathlon is for kids, elite athletes, the physically challenged and even reformed couch potatoes.
Where do I start?
The first thing that multi-sport athletes need to do is choose their goals for the season. The next crucial step is to make a reasonable training plan that will help them reach their goals. Finally, one of the hardest things to accomplish is sticking to the plan until race day.
Some important things to do at the beginning: 1) determine your fitness, 2) evaluate how much daily training time you can afford to do and stick to, 3) look at how much time you have to get ready, and 4) register for the race(s) as soon as possible so you have an additional incentive to train and you won’t have a convenient excuse for not showing up on race day because they often close out fast.
How do I get moving and stay moving?
Starting out slowly is important in order to develop an aerobic and strength base. A good base will help prevent injuries and improve your long-term fitness.
Getting into a daily routine is extremely important, especially at the beginning of any new training plan. Developing a workout habit, getting rest, eating properly and varying your routine are crucial to avoid burnout. Self-discipline is most important when you start and can be reinforced by working out with others. Nonetheless, it needs to be about you. Even if others falter from their plan, you need to stay committed and stick to your plan the best you can.
What equipment do I need?
You need a swimsuit, goggles, bicycle, helmet and running shoes. I would also suggest sunglasses, a water bottle belt or hydration system, and a log for planning and tracking your training. I also find feedback from a heart rate monitor very useful. Triathlon equipment can be quite basic or it can become obsessively technical. Remember, it’s really your training that makes the difference.
What if I’m weak in one sport?
If you are not confident in your ability to complete any one or more legs of a race, get some instruction or coaching. Begin by doing focused training for the particular leg(s) you are weak in while maintaining your fitness in the other areas. You will feel more confident and motivated if you also get feedback from those with experience. Seek out experts from the gym, Triathlon Club, YMCA, Masters Swimming, Mohawk Hudson Cycling Club, Hudson Mohawk Road Runners Club …
Another growing multi-sport event is duathlon. It’s usually a run, bike, run but event legs can vary. Duathlons are great for those who are non-swimmers and for those who may not like to swim in cool water. The Greenbush YMCA is planning a new swim/run sprint for this summer.
What race(s) should I include in my plan?
The answer to this is as varied as the number of people reading this article. No matter what your fitness level, if you have never done a triathlon it’s a good idea to start with a sprint race and plan longer distance races later in the season. While you are developing your fitness base, take time to look for events you are interested in and that you can train for. A good rule of thumb is; if you know you can finish the distances for each of the race legs (swim, bike & run), you are probably ready to commit to doing it in the near future.
For those who are looking for a multi-sport challenge with family or friends, forming a triathlon team is a great way to get started and have a great time. Triathlon teams are made up of two or three athletes who race in one or two legs of the race. Most events offer team entries.
What should I do to prepare for race day?
You’ll feel more comfortable if you have a chance to train on the racecourse or something similar to it. If you are not able to train on the course, it’s a great idea to at least drive the course the day before. Practice for race day by establishing a good training routine (drinks, food, sleep…) you can use on race day. Get all your equipment prepared well before the race. Relax and reflect on your training and don’t make any big changes in your routine. I’ve learned that last minute changes can bring on unexpected difficulties.
What should I do on race day?
Have fun!!! Getting to the start and finish lines is more important than getting a fast time. Arrive at least one or two hours early and get set up. Even if your plan has been modified or obliterated it is better to show up and do your best than to sit at home. Even if you finish last or need to drop out, you will still have done more for yourself because you started and you will learn more about yourself. When the starting gun goes off, savor it, stick to your plan and don’t get caught up in pushing yourself too hard early in the race. Enjoy it; once you’ve seen the finish line you will never be the same.
Where can I find local triathlons and training information?
The Capital District Triathlon Club (www.cdtriclub.org) helps organize clinics, training events and races. USA Triathlon association offers one day and annual memberships for sanctioned races. Local off-road races are posted at www.skyhighadventures.com.
John Slyer lives in Averill Park, NY with his wife Kathy and three active girls. John is a 4-time Ironman USA finisher, Sky High Triathlon Race Director, and YMCA swim and triathlon coach. He has established the first youth multi-sport camps in the Capital District.
Get Some Blood Flowing & Try Off-Road Triathlon
By John Slyer
If you are interested in doing your first triathlon or looking for a new exciting challenge, off-road triathlon (ORT) has become available to everyone. The expansion of hiking, trail running, and mountain biking has spun off another addictive challenge for off-roadies and road converts alike. The excitement of fresh water, wooded trails, and cross-training health benefits injected with adrenaline-filled challenges brings athletes and teams off-road over and over again.
Where to go for ORT
Training for ORT is a blast and great excuse to get away to beautiful state parks and other recreational areas. It’s ideal for singles and families who want to have lots of choices. You can train while the rest of your family either joins you or chooses to relax at the beach. Everyone is happy!
ORT is here in our area with Garnet Hill, Hartford, Grafton Lakes, Schiff Scout, and Craftsbury Vt. All of these races are open to novices and experienced triathletes alike and are part of the Xterra National Point Series.
What you’ll need to go Off-Road
All you need for off-road triathlon is a swim suit, goggles, mountain bike, helmet, eye protection, repair kit, and running shoes. You can keep it simple with minimum expense or you can go crazy and spend a fortune and nobody will notice either way. Some use a wet suit for cold water swims but it is not necessary for most races. ORT is really great for young folks who already own a mountain bike and can’t afford a big road bike investment. For the run, some choose a heartier trail runner but again I’d advise using what works for you while avoiding combat boots.
Get away from the pool chlorine and monotony of laps
Open water swims are great fun! Some ORT swims can be an exciting challenge in lakes, the ocean, and rivers with currents, rocks and even white water! Usually there is a run across an island, beach, or sandbar in the middle of the swim.
Single-track, mud, trees, twists, turns, and cliffs, Oh My!!!
Fast, slow, or anywhere in between, mountain biking is never boring. Even if you are extremely fit, mountain biking will always challenge and give you something to improve upon. Off-road rides are always changing as nature alters the trails everyday. You don’t need to worry about a cars or trucks coming from behind; the biggest thing you need to be careful of is the beauty of the wilderness and mud in your eye enticing you to quit your job and trail ride forever.
Avoid traffic, car exhaust and bone grinding pavement
Off-road running is a great way to see nature, stay fit and save your joints. Trail-running a bit more technically challenging than on the road. ORT runs often include boulders, stream crossings, steep dirt climbs, downed trees and other obstacles. If you take your eyes off the trail it could easily add a tumble and more adrenaline to your run. A few scratches won’t make much difference anyway.
Getting dirty is half the fun
Unlike a clean road triathlon, ORTs are often hidden in the woods much of the time. When you pop out from behind a tree or rock everyone racing will be covered in mud, dirt, and possibly a few scratches. In awe, spectators will wonder what you were doing back there. Mud looks good on off-road triathletes, and they have plenty to show off.
When you finish a race you will be able to kick back and enjoy the fresh air.
Get your blood flowing with Off-Road Triathlon and go for it!
John Slyer is Race Director of Grafton Lakes ORT Xterra, 2002 Xterra Point Series Northeast Age Group Champion and competed in the 2002 Xterra ORT National Championships in Lake Tahoe. Contact John at www.SKYHIGHadventures.com
Multi-Sport For Life
Challenging Life as it Changes
by John Slyer
Multi-sport activities are one of the healthiest gifts we can give ourselves in life. The benefits are physical, psychological, social and even spiritual. The fun of challenging ourselves to try new things gives us a reward that is more important than just winning a race or competition. It’s satisfying and good to play. The types of activities that suite our lifestyles change for many reasons. These changes have a great deal to do with four main factors: health, time, money, and obligations to others, especially family.
Start multi-sport at birth. Doing active things with kids right away will keep the parents fit and help the infant’s development. Once they are walking, getting children into multi-sport is as simple as just getting them outdoors to play. Giving kids choices without overly directing them usually leads to some form of play and making them feel good. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Having fun is the most important thing at this stage. If a sport causes high stress, they will probably lose interest and drop out of it, even if they are talented. It’s important to emphasize that sport is about doing ones best and not just about winning. The only choice I would not give kids is the choice to sit and become a TV-loving couch potato. As a kid I loved to bike, skateboard, swim, and just play in the sand. Let your kids find out what they love about the outdoors, too.
Get kids outside to play. Don’t have them do just one thing; get them to try everything. They will eventually find their thing. It’s important to get good instruction, but it’s even more important to have lots of fun from the start. If it’s not fun, why would a kid want to do it? Too much technical information will bore them, and unless they are ready for it, it’s a waste of time. Young kids aren’t interested in the health benefits of sports, probably because they can’t envision ever growing old. Having fun doing things with other children will help them develop a strong foundation of physical and psychological wellness.
As children get older, they will hopefully develop interests in many activities. It’s important that they have healthy choices and strong role models. My daughter decided that she wanted to downhill ski race, so we found a way to let it happen. It may have risks, but it’s better than sitting in front of the TV or computer. Physical activity should be part of everyday life for the whole family. If parents are only spectators, kids will probably just sit back and watch when they grow up, too. Be an athletic role model, a practice partner, and a cheerleader for your children. They’ll be grateful now, and later they’ll remember how much fun growing up was with parents sharing in their adventures.
As young adults become more and more involved in many things, it is very important that regular physical activity be a part of their day. Allowing them to become sedentary should not be an option. Helping them find an interest that excites them and that they can feel good about participating in is an important role for parents. I remember loving to race skateboards, ride bikes and go to the pool. My parents allowed me the freedom to enjoy these activities, and it’s a gift I still appreciate today.
As a young adult, I was allowed lots of freedom to choose activities I liked. I tried many things and found that just learning how to play new sports and challenge myself gave me a sense of accomplishment. We all have a love of learning that feeds our soul. I had so much choice that my parents even allowed me to skydive and rock climb while I was still in high school. Skydiving turned out to be a sport that I loved so much I spent almost all of my time and money doing it. This love for sport kept me out of trouble during some difficult times in my life. Imagine- I could fly my body through the air instead of engaging in unhealthy behavior. As I got older, my love for adventure began to drive my participation in sports.
As a college student, many still have lots of recreation and sport options, but economic realities begin to determine choices. College sports are an option for some, but there are many other exciting, affordable life-long sports to get involved in. As for me, I shifted my focus to rock climbing, mountaineering, snow shoeing, running, swimming and skiing.
Because money was tight, like others I found creative ways to fund my sports. I taught swimming at the YMCA so I could have access to a pool, I packed parachutes so I could skydive, I worked as a ski patroller for season passes and I’ve held various adventure camp positions in order to pay for my hiking, climbing and kayaking adventures. What a way to get through college!
As a single adult I finally had a full-time job and some disposable income to “jump” back into skydiving. Single adults and DINKs (dual income no kids) have the best of everything open to them. They have time, money and energy to take bold new chances, explore dreams and take bigger risks. I made hundreds of skydives and went to the US Skydiving Championships as a DINK. Stepping out of the ordinary and doing something extreme is what made me feel alive. I had lots of time to do my regular swim, bike and run training plus a whole lot more.
When kids come into the picture, multi-sport adjustments need to happen to keep a good balance. My wife and I both knew that we would have less time, energy and disposable income when our first of three daughters was born. Nonetheless, I never thought kids would change me the way they did. I found myself looking for any way to get my kids involved in my active lifestyle. I bought my daughter her first mountain trike before she was even born. Taking our little ones camping and hiking before they were 6 months old was quite an awesome experience, too.
As a new dad I found myself shifting multi-sport gears to a more family-friendly sport. Believe it or not, it was triathlon. I could train from home and I found ways to incorporate everyone. Was it easy? No, but neither is getting into the habit of doing anything if you sit on your butt all day. Now we have joggers, bike trailers, backpacks, tandem bikes, kayaks, skis, snowshoes, and tons of other equipment to get them involved. Most importantly, we have them with us whenever we race and recreate. Having my wife and kids insist that I race, and then run across the Ironman finish line with them all was very cool.
As multi-sport parents, we are now finding that our kids desire their own choices and we are learning from them. As we get older, I’m confident they will bring us along and teach us many new things on their adventures. It’s very cool to see your kids pick up healthy habits they can have for their entire lives. I guess this whole multi-sport thing with kids is a bit selfish. If you do it right, you get to take your kids along for the adventures when they’re young, and then they teach you new things and take you along when you’re older. The fun of play and multi-sport should be a lifetime of adventure.
John and Kathy Slyer are educators, athletes and official tour guides to the multi-sport adventure of life with their daughters Julia (7 1/2), Caroline (5 1/2) and Ruby (5 months).
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