The study of champions… consistent peak performers who compete expressing exquisite health… is how I spend my time. I read biographies and autobiographies of Olympians and World Champions. I review articles, papers, and anecdotal evidence regarding the training patterns of athletes who consistently deliver peak performances. I study the training manuals written by coaches and academic research literature published by exercise physiologists, rehab therapists, and sport scientists.

But sometimes lessons to be learnt can simply be found by reviewing the results of local races: for example, the results from the Kelso Mountain Bike (MTB) series that takes place every Tuesday night on the slopes of what is Glen Eden ski resort in the winter and the hiking/biking trails that exist on the top of the escarpment directly behind the ski area offers an interesting insight into the development of today’s current top and tomorrow’s top Mountain Bikers in Ontario.

When you review the results from this, and past years Kelso MTB race series you will see this…

The results above are from Kelso MTB Race #2 from this year… I copied and pasted together as many last names that I could pair, and in one case knowing that in one family all members don’t share the last name I managed to pair them together too.  This is by no means a comprehensive pairing of all the families from this one night, especially when you consider that sometimes its uncles and aunts and brothers in law, etc… that are the guardians and pairing families on last name alone misses the mark by a mile… but I believe the point is made.

Family after family… racing together on Tuesday nights all summer long.  More importantly, if you look at the ages of some of the kids you will see its not only children who are young enough that they can be told to get into the car and be told that they are going to hang out with mom and dad; there are teenagers, and loads of them ‘hanging’ with mom and/or dad and their siblings too.

Imagine that…  families…  spending time…  together…  traveling to/from an event…  together…  out in nature…  together.

Its easy as a parent to sit on the sidelines and proclaim: “do not do as I do, but do as I say… because its good for you”, but when a parent gets off their duff and actually does what they tell their children is good for them… well, there is no arguing when the parents are themselves training and racing! It may be worth just coming out to a race to see mom and dad be ‘athletic’, perhaps even get all muddy and dirty from racing, maybe even fall over… and maybe that’s why the kids are also at Kelso.

Do alittle more digging into the results and you will find something else: many of the top kids competing at Kelso are also competing in the OCA (Ontario Cycling Association) O-Cup series of MTB events across Ontario, and not just competing… but excelling, winning, standing on the podium.

Hmmm…. could there be a connection?

Does mom’s and dad’s direct involvement in the same sport as their kids have an impact?

Seeing mom and dad head out on their own bikes, heading out to actually train have an impact on their kids?

Seeing mom & dad drop their device, step away from emails, from work, and putting themselves, their health ahead of all other things impact their kids?

But, my child is in a sport that I cannot train and race alongside…

Back when coaching BMSC (Burlington Masters Swim Club) I recall a husband and wife who joined the team, they joined at the same time their kids started to swim at an age group club in Oakville. They started to swim, sometimes taking turns because someone had to be at home to put the kids to bed, and sometimes able to show up together because they had someone looking after the kids. The point is… there is always a way to be a model, an example, a leader to your kids.

The easy out is to say you have no time, no interest, no way to get out and invest in yourself.

The easy out is to say “do as I say, not as I do.”

I ask you to consider this… what does that model to your kids?  When you don’t have time to invest in yourself, when you don’t make yourself a priority, when you don’t put yourself first at times so that in the long term you are healthy, you are able to be part of the lives of your children (and not as a burden, but as a supporter and contributor in their life)? What message does that model for your kids?

Yet we wonder why kids walk away from sport.  We shouldn’t wonder what kids do when their actions merely reflect what we as their parents do.

“Do as I say, not as I do” is a cop-out, its not parenting.

To those parents out every Tuesday night, to those families out every Tuesday night at Kelso… congratulations. The investment in time, in equipment, in training, in racing, in packing the car feverishly in order to make it to the starting grid on time every Tuesday night shows what’s important, shows in action what is the priority.

The message that your kids, their development, their health, as well as your continued development, your health and most importantly time together as a family being important… is loud and clear. Your kids will not forget it… ever.