by Michael A. Brown with www.FullFitnessServices.com
The first two items that must be addressed when beginning to prepare for the bicycle leg of a youth triathlon are safety, and enjoyment! Safety is paramount; it is not an option. Bike handling skills, safety checks of the bike & repairing a flat all need to be learned first. Next, fun has to be a huge part of the training experience; remember, you likely became involved in triathlon because you wanted to have fun, and if the “fun factor” is lost, your continued participation in this healthy and beneficial activity will also likely be “lost.” Age appropriate training, therefore, focuses on skill development, and having fun.
While training for the bike leg, you should focus on good technique; try to understand the “WHY” of what you are doing. Once you have developed good technique, you can begin to focus your training on speed. As a young athlete, speed is something you should work to develop and increase as you develop into a young adult. As a young person, for the most part, you will recover faster from intense physical exertion than adults do in the same form of exercise. Research suggests that youths can recover quicker than adults; their ability to recovery from high intensity exercise is far superior to that of adults. Your training should be focused more on intensity than on long sessions. This is more beneficial to you than long endurance type training. Youths should be training in a way that improves their speed and recovery; this is exactly what high intensity training does. If your training is too long, essentially you are training to go too slow. If you spend a great deal of time trying to go long distances during your developmental years, you will tend to slow down to accommodate the distance and as you mature into a young adult it will be extremely difficult to develop the speed component that was neglected as a youth.
If you can remember to have consistency, variability (which includes training the whole body), make the training progressive and add rest and recovery you will have a great start to a healthy form of training, and hopefully, a healthy and fun lifestyle!
Michael A. Brown