Too Young To Run? Children Marathoners

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Postby rundmc » Sat Nov 10, 2007 9:45 pm

Stephan wrote:nobody achieves excellence in sports (by that I mean professional/Olympic) without starting at a young age.
True, but no one achieves excellence in marathoning by running one at 16. There is not a single elite marathoner out there who ran a marathon as a child to prepare for success at the distance as an adult.

Haile Gebrselassie is a notable example to the contrary (he ran 2:48 at the age of 15), but he had travelled to Addis Ababa to run a much shorter race (9 or 15k, I can't remember). When he found out that it wasn't a marathon, he didn't want the trip to have been for nothing, so he ran the marathon anyway.

There are, by the way, many elite runners who started serious training after the age of 18. Paul Tergat didn't run a step until he was 18. I don't think he competed internationally until he was 22. Charles Kibiwott, also of Kenya, has run a 2:06 but didn't take up running until he was in his mid-20s.
Last edited by rundmc on Sat Nov 10, 2007 9:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Jwolf » Sat Nov 10, 2007 9:47 pm

Stephan wrote:How do you explain Wayne Gretzky, Sidney Crosby, Tiger Woods or any pro athlete who excells in his sport...ALL of them started training heavily during childhood. I know it's a different sport but the principles are exactly the same.


Exactly the same?

Starting running vs. starting running marathons is not the same thing.

The best marathon runner in the U.S. right now only ran his first marathon this year, at the age of 24. The best international runners also starting running early in life, but most didn't run marathons until later.

Eta: sorry for the repeat of theme, but rundmc's post was not there when I began my reply.
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Postby MoeMan » Sat Nov 10, 2007 9:49 pm

Corpus Cani wrote:Dare I say it again.
Why the obsession with marathons?
And now children running marathons
Children are not smaller versions of adults and . . .


NBC10.com wrote: Child Dies Playing Football On Schoolyard
A student died Friday after he collapsed on a local playground during his first week of school in West Oak Lane. The tragedy happened at Ivy Leaf Middle School on North Broad Street in Philadelphia. Authorities identified the boy Saturday as 12-year-old Malik Hamilton.
He was playing football with friends when he had trouble breathing, and then collapsed just after 1 p.m., investigators said.


http://www.nbc10.com/news/9812380/detail.html
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Postby Jwolf » Sat Nov 10, 2007 10:01 pm

MoeMan wrote:
Corpus Cani wrote:Dare I say it again.
Why the obsession with marathons?
And now children running marathons
Children are not smaller versions of adults and . . .


NBC10.com wrote: Child Dies Playing Football On Schoolyard
A student died Friday after he collapsed on a local playground during his first week of school in West Oak Lane. The tragedy happened at Ivy Leaf Middle School on North Broad Street in Philadelphia. Authorities identified the boy Saturday as 12-year-old Malik Hamilton.
He was playing football with friends when he had trouble breathing, and then collapsed just after 1 p.m., investigators said.


http://www.nbc10.com/news/9812380/detail.html


Moe-
I don't see how your post follows Corpus' questioning.

There will always be anecdotal evidence of people, including children, getting hurt or collapsing in sports. It doesn't necessarily mean that the sport caused the problem.

We had a previous discussion about "why the obsession with the marathon" to which Corpus is referencing.

Running and marathoning don't have to be the same thing.

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Postby Irongirl » Sat Nov 10, 2007 10:09 pm

as a competitive swimmer growing up, I was one of those 24+ hours per week KIDS.

At age 12, I did weights/swimming 4 mornings a week (total workout - 2 hours), swam 5 nights a week (total workouts 2.5 hours) and swam saturday mornings (total workout 3 hours). 10 workouts a week. Wednesday morning was off :)

The difference between what I was doing and what a professional/olympic swimmer would have been doing - probably only the weights. The weight workouts that we did were geared for KIDS. Higher reps, less weight.

Sure, there was tons of pressure from my parents, and many times I said I wanted to quit. When the time came that I KNEW I was done, I told my parents that I was done. I quit for a couple of months, went back the next year, and lasted a month, I was done.

12 years of swimming.

Wouldn't trade it for the world.

The point that I'm trying to make is that even as a pressured, sometimes over-worked child-athlete, I LOVED my sport. I LOVED the training.

I see so many parents these days gently asking their kids what they want to do and not giving them that extra push to do things and I think a lot of kids end up missing out on things.

Do kids need to run full marathons, no, probably not. Can kids be dedicated, 24 hour/week athletes? ABSOLUTELY.
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Postby BJH » Sat Nov 10, 2007 10:12 pm

Irongirl wrote:as a competitive swimmer growing up, I was one of those 24+ hours per week KIDS.

At age 12, I did weights/swimming 4 mornings a week (total workout - 2 hours), swam 5 nights a week (total workouts 2.5 hours) and swam saturday mornings (total workout 3 hours). 10 workouts a week. Wednesday morning was off :)

The difference between what I was doing and what a professional/olympic swimmer would have been doing - probably only the weights. The weight workouts that we did were geared for KIDS. Higher reps, less weight.

Sure, there was tons of pressure from my parents, and many times I said I wanted to quit. When the time came that I KNEW I was done, I told my parents that I was done. I quit for a couple of months, went back the next year, and lasted a month, I was done.

12 years of swimming.

Wouldn't trade it for the world.

The point that I'm trying to make is that even as a pressured, sometimes over-worked child-athlete, I LOVED my sport. I LOVED the training.

I see so many parents these days gently asking their kids what they want to do and not giving them that extra push to do things and I think a lot of kids end up missing out on things.

Do kids need to run full marathons, no, probably not. Can kids be dedicated, 24 hour/week athletes? ABSOLUTELY.


I was waiting for you to chime in. ;)
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Postby Stephan » Sat Nov 10, 2007 10:12 pm

"Why the obsession with marathons?"

..we are talking about distance running here, just because young runners aren't running marathons doesn't mean they do not run the same amount of distance while training.

People use "the marathon" because most haven't run one or won't, whether a teen runs 60-100K in training for track and field or a marathon, it's still the same amount of running.

There's a reason why Canada is the #1 nation in hockey, we start them young and nurture them young in the sport. There's a reason why other countries are #1 in certain sports as well, the same reason.

I don't hear about any studies that would guilt a parent into thinking he is abusing his kids by putting them in hockey. I'd like to see a study on running injuries (long term/short term) compared to injuries in hockey for young people. I can almost garantee you what the results would be.

So why do we attack distance running if the problem is so minute? I'll tell you why, because most people do not like to run. That's why people say things like "running is bad for the knees" and "hey did you hear about the marathoner who died!!!!!!???????"

Running is evil, keep the kids away!!!!!! Pass over the jelly doughnuts please.

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Postby Jwolf » Sat Nov 10, 2007 10:17 pm

Stephan wrote:I don't hear about any studies that would guilt a parent into thinking he is abusing his kids by putting them in hockey. I'd like to see a study on running injuries (long term/short term) compared to injuries in hockey for young people. I can almost garantee you what the results would be.


There are actually lots of studies of whether certain activities in sports are healthy or not for children. Including things like heading in soccer, tackles in football, etc. There are also lots of parents concerned about whether obsessiveness with ANY activity is healthy for children.

But running is different because of succeptiblity to overuse injuries and growth-plate damage. And again, no one is saying that running is bad for children, just questioning the wisdom of early marathoning. It's not that people don't like to run. I don't like playing hockey but I won't stop my kid from playing. You're oversimplifying things and getting very defensive-- no need for that.

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Postby Stephan » Sat Nov 10, 2007 10:21 pm

Jwolf wrote:
Stephan wrote:I don't hear about any studies that would guilt a parent into thinking he is abusing his kids by putting them in hockey. I'd like to see a study on running injuries (long term/short term) compared to injuries in hockey for young people. I can almost garantee you what the results would be.


There are actually lots of studies of whether certain activities in sports are healthy or not for children. Including things like heading in soccer, tackles in football, etc. There are also lots of parents concerned about whether obsessiveness with ANY activity is healthy for children.

But running is different because of succeptiblity to overuse injuries and growth-plate damage. And again, no one is saying that running is bad for children, just questioning the wisdom of early marathoning. It's not that people don't like to run. I don't like playing hockey but I won't stop my kid from playing. You're oversimplifying things and getting very defensive-- no need for that.



Huh????? I am having a discussion about a topic I am passionate about. How is that being defensive Jennifer? Oversimplifying things?? The opposite of that would be over complicating things? I don't get your point.

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Postby Irongirl » Sat Nov 10, 2007 10:26 pm

training 100 km a week is different than running 42.2 km AT ONCE.

(I'm not fighting the for or against argument here, just pointing out a difference!) ;)
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Postby rundmc » Sat Nov 10, 2007 10:28 pm

Stephan wrote:There's a reason why Canada is the #1 nation in hockey, we start them young and nurture them young in the sport. There's a reason why other countries are #1 in certain sports as well, the same reason.
Actually, we do start them young. Minor track and high school track is a very, very popular sport in North America, Canada included. For whatever reason, after the age of about 20-22, very few Canadians run seriously.

The 2006 Ontario cross country championships are an example:

http://www.otfa.ca/Groups/Results/2006/ ... nships.htm

The bantam girls race (ages 13 and under) had 61 entrants, the bantam boys race 49. At the midget level (ages 14-15), the numbers were 93 and 116. At the juvenile level (ages 16-17), they were 107 and 105. By the time these kids get to be juniors (18-19), they're down to 27 girls and 42 boys.

And as seniors? Just 13 women and 34 men.

At least part of our problem in the sport is that running seriously is primarily a sport for kids. Whether serious competition at a very young age is harmful to performance as an adult is an open question, but you will see very, very few elite runners who competed seriously as children, in Canada or elsewhere. It certainly isn't helping the situation.

Children can probably handle serious competition for the most part, at least the good ones. Not all children can run marathons, but there are probably some that can. What Corpus pointed out is that this isn't likely to lead to success as adults. That's not necessarily the end of the world: Irongirl wrote about how much she loved competing at a high level at the age of 12.

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Postby Stephan » Sat Nov 10, 2007 10:36 pm

rundmc wrote:
Stephan wrote:There's a reason why Canada is the #1 nation in hockey, we start them young and nurture them young in the sport. There's a reason why other countries are #1 in certain sports as well, the same reason.
Actually, we do start them young. Minor track and high school track is a very, very popular sport in North America, Canada included. For whatever reason, after the age of about 20-22, very few Canadians run seriously.

The 2006 Ontario cross country championships are an example:

http://www.otfa.ca/Groups/Results/2006/ ... nships.htm

The bantam girls race (ages 13 and under) had 61 entrants, the bantam boys race 49. At the midget level (ages 14-15), the numbers were 93 and 116. At the juvenile level (ages 16-17), they were 107 and 105. By the time these kids get to be juniors (18-19), they're down to 27 girls and 42 boys.

And as seniors? Just 13 women and 34 men.

At least part of our problem in the sport is that running seriously is primarily a sport for kids. Whether serious competition at a very young age is harmful to performance as an adult is an open question, but you will see very, very few elite runners who competed seriously as children, in Canada or elsewhere. It certainly isn't helping the situation.

Children can probably handle serious competition for the most part, at least the good ones. Not all children can run marathons, but there are probably some that can. What Corpus pointed out is that this isn't likely to lead to success as adults. That's not necessarily the end of the world: Irongirl wrote about how much she loved competing at a high level at the age of 12.



That's a very good point. I for one believe that the human body is very resilient and adapts to it's envirnoment and stimuli. We are designed as runners from the get go, I firmly believe that with proper training, a young person can safely run long distances if he trains smartly.

...NOW...I am moving on to Jacc's Butternut Squash Soup thread because it's so yummy and more easily digestable.

Ciao!!

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Postby DougG » Sat Nov 10, 2007 10:58 pm

I don't hear about any studies that would guilt a parent into thinking he is abusing his kids by putting them in hockey.


Actually there are thousands of cases where kids get pushed & pressured into comepetitive sports when they aren't ready. What about the thousands who don;t make it? What about the mental and emotional damage that is done to them because of pressure that they aren't ready for, or able to handle? Not just hockey, but footbal, baseball...any sport. I can't speak about the physical consequences, but growing up in hockey I saw a lot of collateral damage. Boys/men whose lives are ruined.
I worry about those who don't have the balance in their lives or the capacity to handle it.
Look at Michelle Wie the young golfing prodigy. I realize she has millions of dollars banked, but her career is in tatters because she has been pushed well beyond what she is capable of emotionally.
I want kids to be strecthed and challenged, to strive for greatness, but not at all costs. That's what scares me.
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Postby ultraslacker » Sat Nov 10, 2007 11:44 pm

DougG wrote:
I don't hear about any studies that would guilt a parent into thinking he is abusing his kids by putting them in hockey.


Actually there are thousands of cases where kids get pushed & pressured into comepetitive sports when they aren't ready. What about the thousands who don;t make it? What about the mental and emotional damage that is done to them because of pressure that they aren't ready for, or able to handle? Not just hockey, but footbal, baseball...any sport. I can't speak about the physical consequences, but growing up in hockey I saw a lot of collateral damage. Boys/men whose lives are ruined.
I worry about those who don't have the balance in their lives or the capacity to handle it.
Look at Michelle Wie the young golfing prodigy. I realize she has millions of dollars banked, but her career is in tatters because she has been pushed well beyond what she is capable of emotionally.
I want kids to be strecthed and challenged, to strive for greatness, but not at all costs. That's what scares me.


but the debate here is whether or not it's good for kids who AREN'T pressured or forced into it... who do it because they love it. I don't think anyone is arguing that it's ok to force a child to run marathons.
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Postby rune163 » Sun Nov 11, 2007 12:06 am

rundmc wrote:
Stephan wrote:nobody achieves excellence in sports (by that I mean professional/Olympic) without starting at a young age.
True, but no one achieves excellence in marathoning by running one at 16. There is not a single elite marathoner out there who ran a marathon as a child to prepare for success at the distance as an adult.

Haile Gebrselassie is a notable example to the contrary (he ran 2:48 at the age of 15), but he had travelled to Addis Ababa to run a much shorter race (9 or 15k, I can't remember). When he found out that it wasn't a marathon, he didn't want the trip to have been for nothing, so he ran the marathon anyway.

There are, by the way, many elite runners who started serious training after the age of 18. Paul Tergat didn't run a step until he was 18. I don't think he competed internationally until he was 22. Charles Kibiwott, also of Kenya, has run a 2:06 but didn't take up running until he was in his mid-20s.


i'm not elite but my marathon at age 16 is only about 10 minutes of my PR......

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Postby Pat Menzies » Sun Nov 11, 2007 12:09 am

Ah the genetic differences of Kenyans. We likely can't discuss that here without charges of racism but comparing Kenyans to Inuit as far as suitability to running is like comparing greyhounds to Rottweilers. Of course there are genetic differences,.It doesn't make it wrong to say that or indicate one is better all around, just more suitable for a particular task. Big deal.

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Postby Corpus Cani » Sun Nov 11, 2007 12:55 am

Believe me Stephan the last thing in the world I would do is discourage kids to run, he majority of my stable are 14 to 19 year old girls and boys.

My approach is to save athletes for their late teenage years and plan to keep their athletes involvement low key ideally until they are older.
The problem I find is that most of these athletes do not stay in the sport that long or the ones that stay often develop injuries that with more thorough preparation would have been prevented.
Young runners need to gradually learn the discipline of following a program that is designed specifically for them and have a plan designed that will develop everything that is needed over a long period of time. This does not mean allowing them to develop a slack work ethic and waiting until they grow up.
I dare say I have as much knowledge of Ice Hockey as you would have of Australian Football. I don't know how Ice Hockey implement their youth development programs. I do know other sports have athletes training hard at age 10 and up. Swimming mentioned by 'Irongirl' as a example, however the body is supported by water and the stress is not on growth plates of growing bones.

What needs to be recognized in athletics is that UNTIL good levels of postural strength are evident is that injuries will occur as a natural result of doing a certain amount of training. However there are many things that need to be done early to help athletes have good movement habits later. A better philosophy to approach the training of young athletes and race selection should be the really hard stuff will come later but there are plenty of things we need to do first to prepare for later.....variety is the key phrase. Training is not always long distance or hard work some but some of it is very precise. A fine balancing act

You speak of the Kenyans in grade school running 16 miles that may have been true once upon a time not necessarily so now.
I had four good mates (good runners in their day) go over to Mombasa to watch the World Cross Country Championships earlier this year and then spent three days staying with the great Kip Keino at his Farm/Training camp. The trained hard, very hard some days but I think you would be surprised at the lay back approach they have to their running.

Incidentally I would be happy to pass on their really interesting report via PM their report to anyone who may be interested.
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Postby ultraslacker » Sun Nov 11, 2007 8:01 am

Corpus Cani wrote: I dare say I have as much knowledge of Ice Hockey as you would have of Australian Football. I don't know how Ice Hockey implement their youth development programs.


In Canada it's not unusual for kids to be learning to skate at the age of 2, and starting hockey at the age of 5. My nephew is 5 and he has hockey 3-4 times per week... and the time/intensity increases with every year.
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Postby Portentous » Sun Nov 11, 2007 8:20 am

Hockey and most sports differ from running in that they are stop & go sports and the kids get frequent breaks. Full contact, checking hockey is typically being pushed back to older age kids, &/or the younger smaller kids are staying in house leagues to avoid the unwanted punishment. A 2 hour hockey workout is not the same as a 2 hour run.

Trust me, I used to go with my family on vacations to a tennis camp. 5 hours a day. They worked you hard, but the on/off nature allowed you to recover (mostly) for the next day.

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Postby trixiee » Sun Nov 11, 2007 3:10 pm

I was thinking about this thread during my run today...

It doesn't seem like that long ago that women weren't allowed to run long distances. Perhaps as we learn more, and do more studies...?
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Postby turd ferguson » Sun Nov 11, 2007 3:20 pm

trixiee wrote:I was thinking about this thread during my run today...

It doesn't seem like that long ago that women weren't allowed to run long distances. Perhaps as we learn more, and do more studies...?


That's because your uterus might fall out. :roll:

I would suggest that all kids are different. If your kid shows signs of being a young Tiger or Wayne then I think single-sport training is appropriate. If your kid shows the talent and ability of Arrow then I think long distance running is appropriate. If you had the athletic ability I had as a kid, a helmet and chess club are appropriate.

(only half kidding)

I think part of being a good parent (I'm still learning) is knowing what your kids are capable of and helping them be what they're going to be.
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Postby trixiee » Sun Nov 11, 2007 3:58 pm

mike rµns wrote:
trixiee wrote:I was thinking about this thread during my run today...

It doesn't seem like that long ago that women weren't allowed to run long distances. Perhaps as we learn more, and do more studies...?


That's because your uterus might fall out. :roll:

I would suggest that all kids are different. If your kid shows signs of being a young Tiger or Wayne then I think single-sport training is appropriate. If your kid shows the talent and ability of Arrow then I think long distance running is appropriate. If you had the athletic ability I had as a kid, a helmet and chess club are appropriate.

(only half kidding)

I think part of being a good parent (I'm still learning) is knowing what your kids are capable of and helping them be what they're going to be.


I totally agree with you Mike. I had swimming lessons, judo lessons, accordian lessons, played baseball, skated, had band practise and played outside a lot!

I had a lot of fun, but became proficient in nothing.

So what if I had no talent or natural abilities? :roll:
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Postby Run26.2 » Sun Nov 11, 2007 5:41 pm

mike rµns wrote:
I would suggest that all kids are different. If your kid shows signs of being a young Tiger or Wayne then I think single-sport training is appropriate.
The irony here being that Wayne is against single sport training.......he was raised in an era where there was no such thing as "summer hockey" or playing sports out of season....

Gretz was quite the baseball and lacrosse player while growing up, and I've heard him talk of how playing other sports enhanced his abilities as a hockey player and how he thinks that some of today's kids are missng out on not playing/trying sports other than hockey.......

As for Tiger.....I'm pretty sure he appreared on Merv Griffin ( or was it Mike Douglas??) as a 3 year old, swinging a golf club like a pro....not sure if Tiger played little league or Pop Warner football, but it obviously didn't hurt him any by not participating in other sports.... :wink:

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Postby drghfx » Sun Nov 11, 2007 6:03 pm

You can quite often tell if a basketbal player started playing at a young age because they usually shoot the ball with their palm instead of their fingers. This is because as a child they are not strong enough to shoot with their fingers and have to push the ball with their palm. A few years ago my sports doctor was looking at my knees and asked me if I played basketball as a child. I told him no. He said that my knees had tell tale signs of childhood basketball playing. It was some type of build-up or certain shape of the bone/cartilage just below my kneecap, I believe. I think the symptom generates itself from jumping as opposed to running. However, if basketball playing as a child presents itself in physical changes as an adult I don't think it would be a reach to extend that to long distance running. I'm not saying that these changes are negative, just that they do present themselves in adulthood.
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Postby drghfx » Sun Nov 11, 2007 6:10 pm

trixiee wrote:I totally agree with you Mike. I had swimming lessons, judo lessons, accordian lessons, played baseball, skated, had band practise and played outside a lot!

I had a lot of fun, but became proficient in nothing.


Glad to hear the accordian lessons didn't work out!

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