Memorial Day is the perfect time to get a running start on your fitness goals for the summer. Consider planning a sprint triathlon for a fun family fitness activity.

Now before you hyperventilate, let me explain. A sprint triathlon does not mean getting through a standard triathlon in record speed. We are not trying out for the Olympics here. We are just trying to get in shape after having the excuse for the past few seasons that it’s a bit too brisk outside for a jog.

A sprint triathlon can be completed by any competitor, regardless of their exercise experience: from remote-control-clicker to everyday-gym-goer. Getting down to the numbers, a sprint triathlon is half of the length of a standard triathlon. It consists of a 750-meter swim, a 20k bike ride, and a 5k run. For you metrically challenged folk, that’s about a half mile swim, a 12.4 mile bike ride, and a 3.1 mile run. Now, if that still sounds like a little much for your gang, halve the whole thing or even quarter it! I promise that no one is going to throw rocks at you for coming up with your own triathlon rules. All overachievers can even tack on a few miles here and there.

The best part is that it is something the entire family will have a blast doing together. A good, clean family competition. There is no loser because crossing the finish line is a feat to swell with pride about: from skinny-mini sissy to chubby, old pops. Extra points go to the competitor that pushes the baby in the jogging stroller over the final 5k run. Have the really little ones wait by the sidelines with water bottles, squirt bottles, and cheers. A tiny encouraging voice can push you all the way to the end. Have them race to the finish line with the joggers to join them in their victory dance. If your family or group is small, go through the triathlon together. Push each other and celebrate together at the end. Try raising the stakes. Winner doesn’t have to help with the family dinner (so hopefully someone beats mom), or all competitors get the first choice of dessert. You’ve really earned it this year.

Get your whole community in on a sprint triathlon this Memorial Day. Get your family competing with it. Or get going on this goal on your own. The most important thing is to get active.
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From the personal tragedy of a stillbirth to an Ironman and beyond, author and stay-at-home mom of five children Mette Ivie Harrison learned life lessons about accepting herself, moving forwar...
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Mette Harrison