In this, my self proclaimed ‘year of yes‘ (which seems to have extended by default to the whole family) we’ve been trying lots of new things. Some good, some exhausting, some amazing, some we’ll never do again, some that test us and some that make us try.
That includes the Weet-bix TRYathlon. See what I did there?
And while officially, I’m not actually doing the TRYathlon, it’s all Poss – I can claim it right? I figure yes. If nothing else, helping her train has partially inspired us all (even the dog) to move more, eat better and learn to be kinder to our bodies. And if that’s not saying a big fat yes to something, then I don’t know what is.
But it’s come with some challenges, and after competing in the first Victorian event last weekend, I thought it would be worth jotting down a few tips on how we hope to get the most out of the rest of the events…
- It’s about trying. It’s not a competition. It’s not a timed event. It’s all about just having a go. If you have that mindset, then it takes a huge amount of pressure off and by default, everyone is more likely to have fun. This alone was a big factor for Poss and reduced anxiety measurably.
- Practice transition. If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s the area where the kids change from the swim, to the bike, to the run. It’s a lot of things to remember, and they have to be done in order. Without you there to prompt, it would be easy to mix it up and throw their confidence for the rest of the event.
- Write it down. We made this mistake on Sunday. No matter how many times we’ve been through what was required at transition, Poss still managed to put her shoes on before her pants, requiring a complicated gymnastics move to remedy it. We should have written it on the front of the transition bag in a step by step so she could follow it, instead of relying on her memory. We’ll do that this week.
- Make it easy. They’ll be wet when they first put on clothes, so pick shorts or leggings that are easy to get on. Get those elastic laces so shoes can be pulled on and you don’t have to worry about tying them. Don’t worry about socks. Keep it simple.
- Get there early. There’s lots of little ‘bits’ to a triathlon: the pool, the transition area, the bike track, the running track and the briefing area, and the kids have to be able to move confidently through them all without you. The earlier you’re there, the more time you’ll have to take it all in and acclimatise to the layout (and the crowds).
- Speak up. There was a minor infraction with a volunteer on Sunday (where Poss’ was grabbed unexpectedly while they applied her race numbers) and in hindsight, I should have stood up and said something. Instead, in my rush to get her to the briefing, I let it slide and I know it rattled her and levelled up the anxiety. Next time I won’t.
- Get ready to bounce. For us this came straight away. Poss cried pretty much as soon as she came across the finish line; the early start, the heat, the anxiety, the crowds, the overwhelm just poured out of her. The other kids were all smiling with their medals, posing for photos, while we wiped away tears. It lasted all of five minutes, but the nap afterwards (an event so rare I can’t remember the last one) showed how taxing the whole thing had been.
- Use a social story. Sometimes I forget how useful these things can be, but laying it all out in a social story helped us to make sure that Poss understood the order of events, what was expected of her, who she could ask for help and the event rules. I did find the information that was provided by Weet-bix a bit lacking in this sense, so we kind of created our own, but don’t be afraid to reach out to the organisers as they might have something already you can use.
Finally, if you’re concerned or worried about how your child will manage, it’s always worth getting in contact with the organisers.
While Poss did an amazing job on Sunday (like totally ‘blow-me-away’ amazing), I know in conversations with the organisers (through my work) that they are interested in helping make this event accessible to kids of all abilities.
I guess if you don’t TRY, you’ll never know! What challenges do your kids take on that blow you away?
Disclaimer: I wasn’t paid to write this post, but Poss’ entry in this event was covered by my work. There was no obligation to share our experience, however I thought others might appreciate the insights. These views are mine only, and do not reflect that of my employer.