It’s a trend that we probably first noticed with the bodybuilding kid C.J. Senters, continued on with the Fierce Five (median age of 16) and now is spreading to the triathlon circuit: young athletes seem to be making their mark on more serious athletic events than ever. Clearly, it’s not just team sports either. The number of teens participating in road races and triathlons continues to grow, according to USA Triathlon.
To learn more about this trend, and how students balance their coursework with their workouts, we spoke with Fiona Chesley, a 15-year-old who aims to complete her 18th triathlon at the Nautica Malibu Triathlon on September 16 to benefit the pediatric cancer research program at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.
Most kids stick with team sports like basketball, volleyball, cheerleading, etc. What drew you to triathlons?
I’ve played many sports, but none seemed right. I enjoy competing in sports with a finish line. There isn’t a coach on the sidelines telling you if you’re right or wrong—it’s all you. You’re the one who has to find all of the determination deep within and put it to use.
What does your training regimen look like, and how do you fit it in with school and your social life?
It helps that racing is a family affair for me. Typically, I swim with my stepmother and run with my dad when he gets home around 6 p.m. I also go to the YMCA and do weight and ab workouts when I have time. Sometimes, I train and bike with the Cal Tri team.
Time for the lightning round…Fill in the blank:
- My role model is: “Chrissie Wellington, the four-time world Ironman champion. She is a great triathlete and has inspired me to do an Ironman someday!”
- My top motivation trick: “When I’m not in the mood to exercise, I play long games of Ultimate Frisbee with friends. It’s loads of fun and an easy way sneak in a workout.”
- My go-to pre-race meal: “The night before a triathlon, my family has our favorite pasta dish: fusilli pasta with butter, ham, peas and mozzarella cheese.”
- My dream competition: “I aim to do my best at every race, but I eventually want to compete in the triathlon at the Olympics.”
More from FITNESS:
- 8 Ways to Get Your Kids Fit
- Is There Such a Thing As Too Fit, Too Soon?
- Run With Me: Get Your Kids on the Path to Fitness
In honor of the NYC Triathlon coming to town this weekend (look for me!) I met up with pro triathlete–and former FITNESS magazine cover model—Jenny Fletcher. An amazing athlete from a young age, Jenny had the looks for the runway and hit the modeling scene in her teens, but her passion for sports never fell to the wayside. From competing in pentathlons, to running and eventually falling for the triathlon, Jenny always kept fitness and exercise at the top of her list in life. Today she travels the world as a pro but spent some time with me to talk shop at Oakley’s Perform Beautifully retreat last weekend in Napa!
How do you treat yourself the week before the triathlon?
I always love to get a manicure and pedicure with fun colors to make me smile when I’m racing!
Do you have any superstitious rituals?
None yet. I always like to mix it up so I don’t start to panic if something doesn’t happen.
First thought to come to mind the morning of race day when you first wake up?
“Oh boy… Here we go! Let’s do this!” Kind of funny that I say we… Not quite sure who I’m talking to!