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5 km running 9 year olds

Discussion in 'Biomechanics, Sports and Foot orthoses' started by 277podiatry, Nov 21, 2012.

  1. 277podiatry

    277podiatry Welcome New Poster

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    What are the views on young runners? I have a client who asked whether her nine year old daughter running 5km once a week might be harmful to her. The girl has no history of injuries and is mechanically sound. She enjoys doing the run and can complete it in around 23 mins 30 secs. The girl is otherwise healthy and active, attending a track session each week (1 hour 800m max) and a few hockey sessions. I hear varying views on the matter, some coaches saying that 800m should be the max at this age, however i am aware that many children of 9 play rugby or football for 2 hour sessions during which they must typically cover 5 km. Is there any good quality research out there on this? Cheers
  2. Thousands of nine year old children run 5 km a few times a week practicing and playing soccer (i.e. football) here in the US. There is absolutely no problem with a 9 year old child running this much, as long as they want to do it and it is not painful for them.
  3. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    Here are the Arena'ettes running 5km earlier this yr at age 5!

    For those old enough to know who George Sheehan was, in one of his books, George Sheehan on Running, which is a collection of essays of his views on all sorts of running topics he wrote in 1978!!!. I do not have the book handy, but recall an awesome essay in which he philosophized and pontificated that age 9 was the perfect running age - if I recall correctly it was something to do with heart size relative to body weight or something like that (its probably been >20yrs since I have looked at the book; must go and read it again).

    Kevin, do you have the book?

    Attached Files:

  4. Craig:

    Don't think I have that book by George Sheehan but I do remember him suggesting in Runner's World that children play and run much more than their adult counterparts and really have very few injuries for the amount they run and play, when compared to adults. I don't think, however, that heart size relative to body weight is the only determinant of the ability to run long distances but Sheehan's ideas does lend support to the concept that children should be active and lean (not obese) to be the most healthy.
  5. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

  6. BEN-HUR

    BEN-HUR Well-Known Member

    I think it is perfectly fine, in fact - it's great... particularly for the reasons I highlighted in red (in fact, that's a pretty good time for a 5 y.o girl - 4.42 km pace for 5km).

    I really do feel that the mindset regarding children & exercise in this day & age is really quite soft in the western world (no doubt because the parents are soft, physically undisciplined, inactive with subsequent limited scope of what children can healthfully handle). Let's not forget what young children are doing in East Africa in regard to running - whilst their western counterparts are being driven to school - 1km away! (yes, I do know there are other factors involved) However, is it any wonder we (i.e. U.S, Australia, Europe) don't have the depth they do in middle/distance running.

    When I was 10, I use to get up early in the morning, run about 3km to the pool, swim 100 laps & then run home (6km running, 5km swimming). I did this every second day. I use to be a swimmer back then but my cross training of running got me to state level easily for running & I quickly realised that I was more of a natural for running than I was as a swimmer. Looking back I must have been one fit little dude back then. These days you just don't here of that extent of physical activity (at least I don't).

    I personally feel if all children was encouraged to run on a regular basis (with the help of their parents) we would set the scene for a world with far less problems in the future :rolleyes:... in fact, I reckon it would pretty much solve most of the world's problems :D... if everyone just became runners :rolleyes: (maybe those more biomechanically challenged to be swimmers)... & ate a plant based diet (but that's a whole nother controversy in itself ;)).
  7. davidh

    davidh Podiatry Arena Veteran

    Dr George Sheehan - there's a name from the past!

    I very much enjoyed his articles in Runners World (the US version - the UK version came along later).
  8. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    Its interesting reflecting on those times. I wonder how many youngins today know who he was and where we might not be today without him?
  9. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

  10. toomoon

    toomoon Well-Known Member

    I recently posted on www.facebook.com/bartoldbiomechanics on this topic.. see November 7th entry.
    "i was shocked to read an article in the NY Times over the weekend about 2 girls, aged 12 and 8, who recently ran the 13 mile Xterra trail race. Now 13 miles (21 km) is a long way for an adult, but XTerra, takes that long way and makes it way tougher."
    I agree with Craig, Kevin and Matt in relation to the relatively short distance of 5 km, but an 8 year old running 21 km.. and Xterra.. man I am not sure about this at all...the more I dug into the article, the more it became obvious there was significant parental pressure on the girls...
  11. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

  12. BEN-HUR

    BEN-HUR Well-Known Member

    Interesting thoughts Simon (toomoon). I confess I just skimmed through the articles but you would naturally need to draw the line somewhere regarding young children & distance running. I was 11 when I ran my first half marathon & that was about an hour after competing in my age division race of... 2km :eek:. I slept in the car on the way home from that race & from memory was a bit sore from the experience. That said though, I didn’t train for the event & just decided to do it when I saw everyone lined up at the start.

    I personally feel it is reasonable for 12 year olds to run the half marathon. However, when it comes to marathons - this is a different story (as anybody would tell you after doing one - including elites). The marathon really knocks you around, it seems once you start racing beyond 32-36km the body starts to suffer - the immune system is heavily stressed, as is the muscular/skeletal system (hence growing plates for developing bodies) no matter how conditioned you think you are (& I have put in 180km weeks with 45km Sunday long runs for preparation). Thus probably too much for a 12 y.o body to healthfully handle - despite if they enjoy the idea & wasn't forced into it (reminds me of the controversy surrounding Budhia Singh of India who apparently ran his first marathon at 3 y.o.a).

    I am somewhat familiar with XTERRA races & the fact that they come in different varieties (i.e. cycle, paddling, running combinations) thus looked up on the U.S XTERRA circuit where I found the following for the XTERRA Trail Runs:

    Maybe the parents & children in question took the above literally. I must admit, it does sound fun to do (particularly in the U.S wilderness) but I do feel an 8 y.o is still rather young to be running such distances as well running over more technically challenging terrain (i.e. rocks & streams). But hey, I’m an evidence based type of guy... maybe somebody here who owns two young girls (say around 5-6 y.o.a) would like to conduct experiments in this area (i.e. 21–30 km runs in the Otway National Park). I’m sure we can get... say... Vibram to sponsor the research ;).

    I think another issue here is the nature of the reason these girls are doing such races – is it for the love of the events or is it to guarantee love & acceptance (then there is the trait with some parents wanting to fulfil their lost dreams through their children). These girls no doubt have talent (as does the girl in the first post) but I wonder where they may be in 10–20 years time when it really counts i.e. the Olympics. When I was a teen I knew a 14 y.o girl who ran the 14km City To Surf race (hilly course from Sydney to Bondi) in 48min. (& was also competitive on the track) – about 2–3 years later she was showing nowhere near such world class performances (looking back I can only wonder what she may have gone through). We not only need to keep in mind the physiological aspect but also the psychological/emotional aspect (probably more so with girls than boys). I think I also read that the two girls in question here had regular visits to their doctor & Podiatrist – well that could be a good or bad sign... depending on the nature of the visits.
  13. PodAus

    PodAus Active Member

    Hi all.

    When is too much running too soon? Genetics, adaptation, luck and emotional fulfilment must all play a role.

    My experience as a junior athlete;

    Aged 9; Running from the farmhouse, up the drive (3km) to the bus stop... to school for a day of 'running around', then back up the drive, nearly every school day...

    then Saturday Little Aths U/10 (11 & 12), and X-Country (2-3km)
    Summer fun runs (usually 8-10km), sometimes 4-5 over summer school holidays...

    then as 13 yr old at Timbertop (school based in Victorian High Country), running virtually every day, distances from 2-10km, with a 2 day mountain hike (20-30km)nearly every weekend...
    At the end of the year, we all ran a 28km 'marathon' / race, less than a week after hiking over 100km (over 5 days).
    All 200 kids of the same age completed this activity load... only some 'broke'.

    and all injury free... competiting at National level 800/1500/3000 really until around 17 years old when intensity and mileage really increased (Falls Creek summer / Ferny Creek winter for endurance, and 2 track sessions per week - 200/400m float).

    Really hard to tell isn't it??
  14. I ,when I can, participate in 'parkrun' in London or when I visit my mother,in Whitstable. Parkrun is a free 5k run at 9-00am on saturday mornings. Usually as the name suggests in parks but the Whitstable run is along the sea wall. These parkruns are in most cities in uk and also I believe, in Denmark, Iceland and Australia. You have to register online and you are emailed a barcode which is scanned when you finish. A few hours later your finishing time is emailed to you which is fun. There are quite a few young kids running. Some look younger than 9. Some run with their parents and some by themselves. I don't think any harm is being done.

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