As I was reading through Runner’s World (January 2012) I came across the “Ask Miles” section and there was a question that kind of stuck out to me, especially being a high school teacher.
“I’m in high school and want to run my first marathon. My parents aren’t sure it’s safe. How can I convince them?
Miles replied: “You can’t. To you parents you’re still a kid. Frustrating, I know, but those protective instincts die hard. This is why Mile’s own mother insists he wear a scarf when it’s chilly out. There’s still hope. Enlist your coach, doctor, or anyone whose opinion your parents respect. With them in your corner, Mom and Dad just might come around. This all assumes, of course, that you are capable of training for a marathon. Be aware that the coach, doc, et all, may find that you really should wait for a few years before tackling 26.2”
After reading this question, I looked around at my students the next day and they looked so so young to me and I don’t think that their bodies are quite ready to be put under that much stress. I guess there are always exceptions and kids that mature much faster than their peers but to me, it just seems too young. This may also be because I never had the desire to run more than 5 miles at a time in high school.
A random picture from high school. If you can’t tell, I was an injured cat for Halloween but my teacher made me take off the cone thing that I had around my neck so that I couldn’t lick my ‘wounds.’ See, I have always been really weird.
Feel free to disagree with me because I really do want to know your opinion on what age you think is too young to run a marathon.
-Part of me thinks that if the doctors/coaches etc think that the teen is healthy enough to run a marathon, why not? That is a huge goal and accomplishment and obviously I believe that running is the greatest thing in the world but the other (bigger) part of me thinks that a half-marathon is a much better idea and much safer for high-school kids. Even a better idea may be for them to focus in on the 10k and get really speedy in that because we all know that the really accomplished 10kers make the best marathoners.
Were you active in high school?
-I played tennis and ran at night with my sis or friends a few times a week. I also did cheerleading one year and went to the rec center for early morning step aerobics classes for a few months.
PS random fact: According to Wikipedia (because we all know that is a 100% accurate source) the youngest boy to run a marathon (or more) was Budhia Singh. As a four year old he ran 42 miles in 7 hours and two minutes. 6 days after Budhia ran that distance the Indian government forced him to stop running until he turned 11 years old.
Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn
I DEFINITELY find that too young. I didn’t run my first HALF marathon until I was ending my senior year of high school. I have never met a high schooler who has run a longer distance than a half marathon, ever.
Jerilee @ Mom's Gone Running
I really don’t know about this one. I suppose it depends on the kid and how prepared they/their body is for it. I have no expertise to fall back on, but in my head I keep thinking that anything younger than 16 (maybe even 18) is just too risky for that kind of distance. Again, NO basis or facts to back up my opinion.
I did volleyball and track for a couple of years in high school, but short distances (sprints) and I wasn’t any good!
Have you seen the documentary about Budhia Singh? Marathon Boy, I think it’s called.
I think it’s too young….but like you, I just had NO desire at that age to even attempt something like that. I think youngin’s are built to be shorter distance runners—but that may be just my take on it!
Totally depends on the person. That said, a kid that wants to spend the appropriate amount of time training to safely run a marathon might have some issues that might warrant some therapy. Also, most teens aren’t eating all that healthfully. I would be concerned about nutritional demands being properly and adequately met. If my one of my kids said he/she wanted to run a marathon as a teen, I think I’d monitor things super closely.
Brittany @ A Little Less, Please
I think it depends on the person, totally. But, then again, I’m not a doctor or anyone with real knowledge on the idea, so what do I know! I NEVER had any desire to even do anything active in high school, so for me it would have definitely been a no no. But, I went to school with a few crazy runners. One guy I went to school with ran a 15:30 5k the year after he graduated. I say it all depends on the person!
I think it depends on the kid and whether or not the parents are making sure the runner stays healthy.
One of my best friend’s daughter ran her first marathon her senior year of high school. She was a cross country runner and wanted to run one before she graduated. Her mom, my friend, made sure she ate right, took days of rest, etc. They even did training runs together. She had a great run the day of the marathon and is signed up for another one coming up soon.
I would have to say 18+ I think whenever the body is fully formed. I can’t imagine it’d be good for developing bones, joints and muscles to be running a marathon. Although what do I know?
Hmmm… I’m not really sure. That is a lot of stress to put on your body. I haven’t read enough about it medically for young kids, but as a parent, I would discourage it until they were a little older.
In high school I did a lot of making out. Does that count? Because if it doesn’t then I didn’t exercise AT ALL.
My BIL ran his first marathon when he was 11. When he was 13 he and my MIL won the mother/son division of the Boston Marathon (this was many years ago – not sure they even have that anymore). Anyway, he didn’t seem to be harmed by it all and now, in his 40s, still runs marathons.
I played lots of sports throughout my childhood and high school and played Division 1 soccer in college. Back then I didn’t like endurance running at all – I thought it was boring. It wasn’t really until after I had kids (who are 4 and 6 now) that I started enjoying just zoning out listening to my ipod and going on longer runs.
Jenny @ simply be me
Too young or not it’s probably better than what a lot of high schoolers do in their free time :) I remember at my first half-marathon I was passed (on his way towards the finish line!) by a young boy who was no more than 16, if that. He was with his Dad and they were both running the Marathon. He looked better than I felt and he had already finished more than I had to do in total. It actually made me smile to see him and his Dad running together. I think as long as there is no pressure placed on them then it’s fine.
There’s actually a movie about the kid that ran 42 miles. It’s called marathon kid I think and is pretty crazy. 4 is maybe too young. High school can probably handle it.
that movie is about budhia singh, the kid she mentioned in the post.
My sister ran her first marathon at the age of 15! She was training for the half with me but felt like she could do more so she did. I remember feeling bad that she had to run it on her own, I could only do the half. And she was definitely burnt out after that. But when I compare our bodies and remember my teens, I think running a marathon then would almost be easier on my body compared to now. I don’t play sports everyday and I’m 20 lbs heavier.
i only made it to the halloween pic. i am laughing so much–that is hilarious and so so awesome. i want to see the cone around your neck!! ok, i’ll finish reading the rest of the post now. xoxx
I liked Miles’ answer. There is no right or wrong answer, it just really depends on the kid. I just watched the Marilyn Bell story last night. The first PERSON to swim across Lake Ontario. She was 16 and it took 21 hours. Seriously, what do we tell a kid that wants to take 4 AP classes their senior year? That’s too much, but we cheer them on and support them. And know they are molding their adult hood. Running a marathon can be compared to that. CAN be, doesn’t have to be.
i think that it’s definitely too early for high school kids to run distances longer than a half marathon. i myself am in high school and although i’d definitely call myself a runner i never run more than 6-7 miles at a time since i don’t think it’s good to put my body under that much stress since i’m still growing :)
Its a tricky question – if the kid is already physically developed, then they are probably capable of handling it and making it to the finish line… but at what long-term cost? There are high schoolers who train incredibly hard – high mileage, intense workouts, etc. Look at the kinds of things Dathan Ritzenhein (I’m only singling him out b/c you featured him the other day) was doing when he was 16-17 years old… I would argue his workouts (things like 32 x 400m) were a lot more physically demanding in some ways than a 26 mile run. But that being said – I think you are right… if the kid doesn’t want to run XC/Track and instead wants to do road races, it would be smart to run a couple half-marathons first, and get an idea of how their body will respond…. then if they want to give it a shot and are physically and mentally ready – then go for it. But that’s the key – its not just the marathon they have to be ready for – its the TRAINING for the marathon.
And I’ll add this – it can’t be much worse that getting hit in the head 20 times a week during a football game, right? :-)
I’ve read that a standard rule of thumb is to not run farther in miles than the grade you’re in, when determining an appropriate distance for kids to run. There are always exceptions, obviously, but in my incredibly limited scientific opinion based 100% on my gut feeling, high school kids are just too young. Their bodies are still developing, their bones are still growing. Running takes a toll on your body, and with all the growth still happening, I’d worry it might cause some adverse effects through time on someone that young.
A: Not active in HS. Failed PE because I skipped running every day. True story.
We have a great program in LA called Students Run LA, where at-risk youth follow a training program and then run the LA Marathon. They train with coaches, get free shoes from shoe companies, get nutrition advice, and run several shorter training races before the marathon. It’s been been praised as being a great program for getting kids healthy, increasing self-esteem, and raising the graduation rates for 3,000 LA kids. I could understand not wanting a kid to run a marathon out of the blue, but if they’re training safely and eating right, why not? Human beings have been running for a long time.
I was going to mention this! I’ve seen them the last few LA marathons I’ve ran and thought they were so awesome.
I definitely think it depends on the kid and how long they have already been running. I do think that it would be fine for some. I let my 10 year old and 13 year old sons run a half marathon with me last summer and they LOVED it. It was a great experience for them. If they wanted to run a full marathon in high school and trained seriously, I’d let them.
There is a guy in my running group who is in high school and is an extremely talented and dedicated runner. I know he has run marathons (not sure how many) but has always finished well. His parents are very supportive of him. My own son is almost ten and has run three 5K’s. Two were with me and one was with his school. I don’t think I would be comfortable with him running a marathon until after high school. I just think that is too much for a developing body but it is tough because you don’t want to discourage them.
Katie @ Peace Love & Oats
I think high schoolers should be able to run marathons, I mean olympic athletes start out really young. As long as they train smartly and with help, I think it’s perfectly fine. My friend in HS actually ran a marathon our senior year!
4?? I can’t imagine my 4 yr old even running two!
Kristi @ SimplyKristi
So, 4 is definitely too young to run such long distances. As for a person in high school wanting to run a marathon, I think it depends on the person. If they’ve run such long distances before, or if they’ve already done other shorter distances races – then I think it would be ok. But I guess there really isn’t any true age that someone should run. Everyone is different!
I was pretty active when I was in school. I played softball and was also on the track team. I only ran short distances though. It wasn’t until really recently that I’ve been more interested in running longer distances.
Deirdre @ Oh Well Whatever
I think if the kid is healthy enough and seriously dedicated enough 16 and up seems ok. I just don’t see a high school kid being that dedicated to the time it takes to properly train. My worry would be them just getting out there and trying to tackle the race without being trained. I did that a few years back. It hurts.
Jodi @ Southern Flavored Life
I am in NO POSITION to even have an opinion, but I think that if a kid is healthy and ‘up for it’, it’s fine. I kind of think our bodies were made to do more (physically) than we give them credit for.
Of course, there are a million factors to weigh…my opinion is based on the assumption that all the factors have been weighed.
I think I’d leave it up to the doc, since I definitely have no idea. I was active, like played soccer and ran track, but I never wanted (or thought I ever would) run distance!
Hmmm…it’s a tough call. But I do think that marathons can be acceptable for that age — as long as they train safely and with supervision, of course :)
I mean, there are plenty of other teens (and younger) involved in demanding sports that aren’t exactly easy on the joints (think football, or even gymnastics), yet those sports are considered socially acceptable. Maybe part of the resistance to teens running long distance is that marathons are still kind of an “up and coming” sport?
It depends on the person but I think that is a little young. I would really want a doctor consulted before I would let a high schooler run a marathon. They could be still growing and do permanent damage to their body. But that is just my opinion.
In high school I was pretty active, but nothing to do with running. I played soccer and softball and swam on the high school team and a rec team. I didn’t even start to get into running until late in college when it was forced on me in crew!
Jana (Running Vegetarian)
I am not really sure how old someone should be to be able to run a marathon. There is a local 5k,10k, half and full marathon in the town I live in every year. This year a 7 year old did the 10K. She finished faster than I would…. 52 minutes. She said she plans to do the half marathon next year. Crazy!
I think that any young runner should not be jumping into the full marathon. Its become really popular lately and some of the amazing runners really do make all the training and racing look easy! Honestly, I think any new runner should start out slowly and build up to the distance and the race.
That being said, the intensity that the teen plans to race is a major part of this question. Are they planning to just run for fun and are happy to cover the distance in whatever time?! In that case, taking on the distance at a younger age is much more acceptable and manageable. The training is more survivable, especially for the body since speedwork won’t bring on a lot of pressure and wear on the body. If they plan on taking on time goals I think some more serious thought should go into the decision.
I personally am a high school senior training for my first marathon, which will be this spring. I don’t think I’m too young (obviously) and I have a friend who also ran his first marathon in the spring of his senior year. It’s not conventional, sure, but running is something I love. It destresses me and let’s me get away from everything else. It’s more about mind-set and confidence than anything else.
I ran four marathons in high school (0ne every year) starting at age fourteen with a program in Los Angeles called SRLA. It was originally started for at risk youth to encourage high school graduation and although I wasn’t considered “at-risk” it was a really great experience. It introduced me to long distance running and friends I would have never met otherwise. Realizing that I can do a leisurely 15 mile run has really helped me deal with stress now that I’m in college.
I ran my first two marathons in high school (ages 16 and 17- the Chicago age limit is lower than most other marathons I’ve seen) and I think it was a phenomenal experience. Marathoning takes a ton of discipline and, as long as you WANT to do it and the parents aren’t forcing you, I think it’s great! I got a little burnt out on long distances and didn’t run my next marathon until I was 24, but I think those two high school marathons definitely set me to up to learn how to train strong, as well as learn discipline for other areas of life.
WOW, Julie that is AWESOME! You are incredible and you were very ambitious for a teenager!
chelsey @ clean eating chelsey
eeehhh, I don’t know – I say too young, but then again, who am I to judge?
Samantha @ Health, Happiness & Skinny Jeans
I don’t personally think that a marathon is a good idea for a teen, mostly because they are still growing and probably shouldn’t put all that additional stress on their bodies. They need a lot of energy as they go through the final growth spurts and it would be very taxing to train for that distance.
That being said, I think teens should be active and running is a great way to get them moving. Track and field and cross country are great and participating in a 5k or 10k would be a great family bonding experience!!
Las Flores Middle School in Rancho Santa Margarita/Las Flores, CA has a program in 7th/8th grade “Students Run LA” where they train and run the LA Marathon. My son isn’t participating, but if he wanted to I would let him :)
Wow that is so so cool! I am going to have to look into this! PS Billy is from RSM!!!
Wow this is a good question; I had never thought about it before. I definitely agree that running a marathon at high school-age or younger seems like a lot of stress to put on a growing body… but then, I have NO clue what I’m talking about so my opinion can’t really count.
I have been riding horses since I was 7, so that was my high school activity! And I elected to take a strength training and conditioning class my sophomore year.
And that 4 year old running 42 miles… I don’t even know what to say, I cannot wrap my mind around that. I don’t even think I could walk when I was 4
Well I just graduated high school and think there is a HUGE difference between freshman and seniors. I would have never done one but that’s because I have been really overweight which is why I am starting to run. There are very few high school students I could see actually training
and doing a marathon but I had one friend who would go do fifteen miles like it was a walk in the park. A girl from my school who is two years younger t
Than I am has been doing triathalons for years and went to compete this summer in China and took first for her age group. Also I didn’t mean to click submit so sorry this is broken up!!
WOW!! That is crazy awesome about that girl in your school!!
Paula @ Eat: Watch: Run
I know Warrior Dash has a 14 year old age limit and thats just 3 miles. So I’m thinking that marathons have age limits too, no?
I know there were some track people in my h.s. that were just SUPER in shape and could totally run a marathon with the proper training. Also, young people are just more resiliant when it comes to excercise. So I would say 16. If you can drive a car, you can run a marathon. :-)
I’m a senior in high school and I know a few people who ran the Chicago Marathon 2 years ago- the summer between our sophomore and junior years. They were all intense soccer players who were in great physical condition. I know quite a few more people who have ran half marathons in high school (myself included) and I think its a great goal for high schoolers to have! Yet, we all proceeded training with doctor permission!
Angela @ Happy Fit Mama
I’ve seen kids as young as 10 running half marathons. I think if they are healthy and have the o.k. from a physician, why not?
I was active… I was not running marathons in high school.
I think it would be ok. As long as they are healthy and well-trained, they would probably recover more quickly than adults. Actually I’d be much more concerned about overweight 50 – 60 year olds doing a bucket-list marathon and getting injured!
I think it is too much stress on a body that is still developing. It puts them at a much greater risk of injury if they are trying to run a marathon and grow hips at the same time, you know? Not to mention changing nutritional needs. I think 18+ is when marathon training could reasonably begin.
Katie @ Healthy Heddleston
My brother ran his first (and only) marathon at age 16. I think it was a bit too much on him and he hasn’t taken up running since.
I think the half marathon distance is where the line should be drawn. My friend’s son who is 13, runs a half marathon each year and seems to be doing alright. He is one motivated kid!
Grade 11 was when I started running, but not with the cross country team, I was too intimidated by the girls on the team. I joined the Running Room and loved it and found out about triathlon in Grade 12, and it has been history ever since!!!
Katie @ Running off the 'Ritas
I would think high school would be a great time to train for a marathon while their bodies are young and healthy but perhaps 26.2 is too long for them if they aren’t fully grown. High schoolers are crazy fast though…in the White Rock Marathon this year a high school relay team beat all of the elites! I was on drill team (dance) in high school but now I wish I had started running back then so that I would be much faster than I am now! :)
Brittany @ GOtheXtraMile
This is a really hard question to ask. I have been active my whole life, but I didn’t always love running. I just did cheerleading, soccer, gymnastics when I was younger and didn’t actually start going to the gym till freshman year of high school. I had no desire to run, but I always thought “I want to run a half or marathon someday” just because I thought it was cool. I think if they are safe about it, it shouldn’t be a problem. But then I think about people I know in high school and they seem way too young. Maybe senior is high school is fine, but freshman just seems wayy too young.
Mallory @ Have Your Cake
This is really interesting. I am not educated enough on the subject, but I would think anything under 18 woudl be too young. I know from biology/physiology classes that teens have very different muscular/skeletal systems from adults. theyre just not developed yet which would make me think that training for a distance like the marathon would just be too much. when i was a teen i was SO SO unathletic and weighed about 100 pounds. i’m still thin, but my metabolism was crazy back then so even if i wanted to run that distance (i could barely run a mile then anyway) i dont think my body could handle it as i struggled to gain weight as it was.
the only sport i did in high school was one year of JV tennis and im pretty sure i only did it because of the cute skirts and personalized sweatpants. i was more of a math geek/choir nerd! ha
I was an active teen. Gymnastics, swimming/diving and competitive cheerleading. I think a high school kid could run a marathon safely but as a mother I can totally see where his parents are coming from. You need to watch the documentary on that little boy. It made me cry. I believe it’s called “Marathon Boy”.
I really want to watch it, thanks Katie for telling me about it!
Nicole @ Of Cookies and Carrots
It definitely depends on the person is my guess, I honestly think most high schoolers wouldnt’ have the discipline to train hard/long enough to do it safely. I’d also be somewhat concerned about the strain on young bones, but that’s completely a gut feeling and not based on real science (I mean, yes, you ar ebuilding your bones during that time period, but I don’t know if running a marathon would be super detrimental if done right). I’d think a half marathon might be a slightly less strenuous and potentially problematic goal…
That being said, a lot of high school athletes do stuff that’s almost just as intense. Serious basketball training or even some of the running training can wreak havoc on your bones, and I honestly don’t know if a marathon is a ton worse (like I said, I’m no doctor, so I dunno exactly what I’m talking about ;) )
Interesting thought though!
I was super active in High School – but never ever marathon active. I think, personally, that HS is a bit young to push bodies like that. I don’t know, just me.
I have a personal question for you: I was asked to coach my Middle School long-distance track team this Spring (YAY!!!!!!!)……… but…….. I know HOW to run, but I dont know a dag’gum thing about teaching it. Do you have any resources you can recommend to me?? I can give you my email if you want….
SO SO SO EXCITING!! Will you email me so we can talk all about it!?!
I believe that jr/sr kids could train for a marathon IF they have been running and being conscious of their nutrition for severl yrs. yeh… That kid would be hard to find. I find today’s kids to be ridiculously apathetic;therefore, if one actually wants to get off his/her lazy butt then encourage him/her to do it!!!
I just don’t think it’s a great idea. Marathon training requires a lot of discipline, I struggled while doing it in college and I had a lot more free time. I should have spent more time studying instead of preparing for the race and I think that applies to high school as well.
natalie @ southern fit foodie
Interesting question. I think it depends on the kid. One of the gyms where I teach is a sports performance training center, and they work with kids of all ages on proper athletic form (general and sport-specific). I see kids in there from the ages of 6 to 18, and there is a tremendous gap in the variety of their natural abilities. Of course, they need to be checked out fully and have the support and training (especially dietary needs) to do this, but I suppose it could be done (by one of those crazy natural runners). However, I also work at a school, and I think I have only met one or two high schoolers who were even remotely interested in a full marathon. Most of them prefer shorter distances with super speedy times. :)
I ran my first 1/2 marathon when I was 15, and ran my first full one when I was 16 :)
WOW! That is incredible, way to go Lara!
Cait the Arty Runnerchick
completely agree! not just with the marathon being too long for a HS’er but starting kids running period too early…think the 6 year olds already running more mileage than high schoolers!
i love running but think it’s a sport to not really take serious until you’re about high school age; before that i think kids should be totally active but in less stressful (to the body) sports. i mean play soccer, bball, run around and that will give u a good cardio base should u then take up running later. that’s just my two cents :P
There are so many comments, so I apologize if I have been redundant, but I’d say they are too young because they don’t have the running experience to train properly. For example, an adult, generally, has the perseverance and the drive to properly train to run a marathon. I think teens, just as many do with other things, would dive right in, and quite possibly never train, train too much too soon and get injured, or they won’t finish and be crushed and lose all their confidence. Starting them and encouraging them to do cross-country in school and participate in smaller races (5ks, 10ks) so that as a young adult they have the experience and the desire to continue building their running ability and progress to further distances. Too many teens die from heat exhaustion and related issues because they chose not to properly train/hydrate/etc. And in those situations even their coaches weren’t informed. Such a long comment, but it is such an interesting question.
I think it depends on their personal background- as for varsity cross country runners, I think they can step up to the challenge of running a marathon! As long as the student is smart enough to train and fuel properly, more power to him/her!
I remember when Runner’s World published the article about Budhia a few years ago. It was a really long and weird article. Actually I thought it was gross. It just rambled on between various people in Budhia’s life who had control over him, and then back to this little kid just running on and on. It was obvious the kid was not given much chance to have a mind of his own.
I wrote RW wondering what their point was. Never heard back. Yuck, now that I’m thinking about it again, I get the creeps.
MegSmith @ Cooking.In.College
Ahahah…I really did have an opinion about the marathon and age question but it got totally erased from my mind when I laughed hysterically at the fact that you were an injured cat for Halloween in high school. That has to be the BEST costume I have ever heard of, I wouldn’t have expected anything less from you :-)
I think that’s too young. Like you, I would encourage my child to focus on getting speedy during a 10k, and possibly and half-marathon. A full seems like too much to me though.
In High School I was a cheerleader and danced as well. HATED running. Big time. I kept active after HS though and some friends talked me into joining a team triathlon with them as their runner just 6 years ago. That was me at 24, and now I love running.
Tough questions, I’m saying it all depends on physical health, maturity level and level of commitment to running. I think in high school some people are already very mature and goal oriented while others are not. I don’t think they should be pushed to be competitive about it though. But I agree with you that they should start small and work their way up. Personally I wasn’t active in high school, I’m sort of clumsy so I stuck to the theatre and loved it but do with that an active spirit had been cultivated in me at a much younger age!
Maria @ runningcupcake
There is a documentary about that boy from India and it is truly shocking I think- he was taken from his mum who lived in the slums, when he did something wrong he was told to run laps of the building, and the person forgot about him and returned several hours later to find him still running. I think his case was really child exploitation. I think just because the body might be capable of it does not mean it is right. Teen bodies are going through a lot of changes what with hormones and things (just like pregnant people should not do too much because the hormones make their muscles relax more so increase chance of injury) so who knows what damage it could do. I think being active is one thing, but pushing for a marathon when they have all the time later (and I think typically marathon times get better at late 20’s early 30’s) is just silly.
Maria @ runningcupcake
Lauren @ What Lauren Likes
high school seems pretty young to me!
I think it really comes to down to the individual situation. If a person is found to be healthy enough and has logged the proper training, then I see no reason for them not to participate in a sport they enjoy!
Life's a Bowl
I played basketball and lacrosse year-round since middle school. I played on my school’s teams, my town’s select teams, and on an AAU national team- all of my time was spent at school, on the court/ field, or sleeping! I don’t regret always being on-the-go, I actually prefer always being busy, but there were times I wish I could have had a break. I ultimately decided not to play in college [after my freshman year] because I was burnt out but probs should have stuck with it because I started to quickly miss having a group of girls around me all the time so I joined a sorority my sophomore year but it was a different kind of group…
I finished the Houston Marathon right behind an 11 year old girl who ran the whole thing last weekend. It was her 2nd one and she ran about a 3:42! I posted onmy blog the same question this week! Is that too young????
Katherine @ Neon Blonde Runner
I think that it should be self-selective— teenagers who are highly motivated and have access to resources to help them train and such should be allowed to run marathons.
I think distance running can be a huge confidence booster and I could see it as a healthy thing for some teenagers.
Also, when I think back to when I rowed crew one year in highschool, it was probably more intense than any running training that I’ve done.
I know these stories of people running their first marathon at 16 sound great, but I have a much more cautious perspective. I started running long distances at 13 when I joined my high school’s cross country team. It was fantastic for a few year, but by the time I was 17 I had overuse injuries in both knees. I’m 21 now and have four knee surgeries. On top of minor procedures to repair tissue, I’ve had to have a Fulkerson osteotomy to correct chronic patellar misalignment. My orthopedic surgeon says that he believes the misalignment problems are 100% resultant from starting too soon. I will say that I was probably predisposed to knee problems, though. The point is not that I personally got hurt — the point is that teenagers could be setting themselves up for some serious pain down the road if they run long distances too soon.
Brooke @ sweats & sweets
I read that in Runner’s World too and I thought being in high school is a little young to run a marathon. I agree a smaller distance is better suited. In high school I only cheered and tumbled, that lead to many back issues that I still deal with today.
I think anything less than 16 is too young.
There is a family here, I’ve raced with both girls in the last 6 months. The 7 year old started in the same corral as me in Houston last weekend for the half, 8 minute pace or faster.
The other sister, who I think is 11, ran her first marathon in October in Austin, she finished in just over 4 hours. I also ran that race. She was trying to run a 3:3o in Houston Marathon last weekend.
Not only do I think it’s unsafe, they are racing ALONE! They haven’t even hit puberty yet.
That’s just my 2 cents
I also agree, it’s all about the money for her.
She says she’s always suggested moderation. I think she’s anything BUT moderation
lol, total random mispost on the 2nd comment
I think it is to young. I worked at Children’s Hospital Boston and the doctor’s in ortho were talking about the fact that they are doing far to many ACL, MCL etc…procedures due to repetitive use injuries in young kids. I don’t feel like they can take care of their nutrition properly, do they make their own training plan? I don’t know there is plenty of time for that in the future.
That said I did a half in October that had a 4th grader doing it and he beat me. YIKES!!!
P.S. I was a lacrosse and trackster in high school. that was enough for me.
I don’t think people, especially kids who have a natural running talent, realize how stressful marathon training can also be on the mind. Hitting certain mileage and always having the focus on a run before fun weekends. I know the Ironman Corporation doesn’t let people younger than 18 compete in Iron distance races.
I am sure there are a few, very few, exceptions but for the most part there is a reason why kids don’t run more the 10k in high school level track and cross county.
I think if my daughter was in high school and wanted to devote the time and energy it took to properly train for one, then I’d let her. I certainly wouldn’t let her just up and try one, she’d have to actually train for it. But at the same time I wouldn’t push her. If she decided after her first 10 mile run that it was just too much, that’d be fine too. I’d be proud if my daughter wanted to dedicate herself to something like that rather than spending time at the mall or something.
I think its too young. I think kids should build stamina and run 5k’s or other small distant runs. And then go for a half later in life.
I played tennis too — but was never very good.
I think it is too young. Our bodies are still developing and growing at that age. I think it makes sense to wait until our bones and muscles are done growing before we put that kind of stress on them. I don’t think I would let my child run a marathon at that age.
I think high school is too young for a full marathon. I agree that a half is likely more appropriate/safe.
Yes, I have always been SUPER active and I credit my parents for this!! I wasn’t allowed to watch much television. I was either offered books to read or go outside and play or practice whatever sports season it happened to be. :)
I ran my first marathon in high school! No negative impacts for me. I learned a lot about my body, how to respect it, and how to push it. I was also going through a lot of crap in my life at the time, and that marathon pulled me right out of it and made me appreciate myself and my life again.
I’m 21 now and still a marathoner, loving every single step and probably going about my running more intelligently and safely since I already have 5 years of distance running experience under my belt.
Well I always thought only “elite” athletes were able to run a marathon because it was just too HARD.
Then (because I’m a bit of a dork) I read Wil Wheaton’s (Wesley Crusher off Star Trek the Next Generation)blog (http://wilwheaton.typepad.com) about how he and his wife ran Rock N’ Roll Marathon and I realized that regular non-super athletes run them too.
My niece started running when she was 23 months old, by run/walking her first mile fun run in 28:28. Since then she has run a mile on her birthday every year. She averaged a 10 minute mile when she was 5 years old.
I think the big issue is whether or not the child WANTS to run one, and a proper GRADUAL training program. Their joints are still growing, so they need more supervision than a regular 16 week program (I think). I think it’s also unwise to set a time goal for some one young. By young I’d say 15/1 years and younger. A nice run/walk program would probably work best.
Then again I also get my butt kicked in races by 12 year old kids regularly.
And if you think about it, kids are better than adults at high levels of prolonged activity…at least they WERE before so much tv and video/computer games.