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Ines Negron: A Good Sport

Margo Harakas Staff Writer

June 1, 2003
Copyright © 2003
SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL. All rights reserved. 

Much of what Ines Negron's children know about fitness they learned from Mom. At 38, Negron, a single mother of three and a behavior specialist with the Broward County schools, is the 2002 triathlon champion of Puerto Rico. Her kids -- Ari-Ana, 13, Ines, 12, and Gaby, 10 -- think that's totally cool.

"I like watching her [compete]," says Gaby. "I want her to win every single time."

"She's healthy, she's good at what she does, and she likes it," says Ari-Ana proudly, adding that when her girlfriends meet her mom, they're like, "Oh, my god, your mom has a great body. I wish I had her body."

Mom works out with hand weights, runs, swims, cycles and still finds time to coach the Bulldogs, a swim club that practices at South Broward High School and includes her son and daughters.

Gaby and his sisters have been splashing around in pools since they were just months old, says Negron. "They learned to swim very early."

Following Mom's sporting example, the children have begun to explore their own athletic possibilities with the girls planning to take up tennis, and Gaby, already a level 5 gymnast, dreaming one day of competing in the Olympics.

When did you get interested in sports?

I grew up in Puerto Rico. I have three brothers and three sisters and we all grew up swimming and competing. Three of us currently are doing triathlons. I got a swimming scholarship to college. I transferred from the University of Puerto Rico to New York University and did a lot of swimming and track there.

When do you find time to work out?

I get up at 4:30 a.m. My first workout is before the children get up. I'll do spinning or hand weights. Sometimes I go out running or swimming. I do hand weights three times a week. My second workout is in the afternoon after work. I go to the pool or to the track. I do two sports a day. I take one day off a week.

How long are your workouts?

During the week, I work out at least two hours a day. On the weekends, I'll do a long workout, two to four hours. I'll do a 65- to 80-mile bike ride. That takes about 31/2 hours. A 15- to 16-mile run takes about two hours. When I do a long run, I'll swim in the afternoon to loosen up.

With your schedule, do you ever feel exhausted?

I take a power nap at 3:30. Just 20 minutes. Then I'm ready to go on to my next exercise or my second job [as swim coach.]

You say you have to force yourself to take a day off.

Yes, it's an addiction, I guess. I've just been doing sports all my life. Even when I was pregnant, I'd do the stationary bike or swim.

What are the benefits of all this physical activity?

The benefits are incredible. I feel younger today than when I was 16. I feel sharp and strong. I feel there's nothing I can't do. It keeps me organized and helps me to keep balance in my life. I think it's good for the children to see me doing these things, too. You teach by doing, not by saying.

It's all very much a family activity.

Yes, sometimes I run and they bike along with me. Sometimes, they run with me on the shorter runs. And we swim together.

You say you're not fanatical when it comes to dieting.

I eat healthy, but I don't follow a rigid diet. I live on fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and protein. But occasionally, I'll have [chicken] wings if I want them. I let myself do that once in a while. I drink a lot of water. I'm drinking water all day long.

When I work out, I drink a sports drink.

What's your next goal?

This summer I'm doing the Coca-Cola Classic Triathlon series. It begins June 8 in Tampa and it runs throughout the summer. I competed last year in the elite professional category and came in fourth overall. If I'd competed in my age category,

I would have won. This time, I'll compete in my age category. I don't have time to train as a professional.

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