How bad is it for a freshman in high school to run a marathon? (Read 920 times)

    Hey MM, I'd say it depends on what you mean by run a marathon and your reasons for wanting to do it. If you just want to get out and see if you can run 26.2 miles, then go for it. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. But if you want to race a marathon, you need more consistency in your training. In fact if you want to run faster in high school you need more consistency in your training. What do you want out of your running? Sure, your friends will be impressed if you run 26.2 miles, but what's more impressive than that is what they don't see. Will you get out the door every day and hit the roads? Will you push hard in workouts? Will you train smart? Will you eat right? There are very few high school runners who have that sort of discipline. And it is this discipline (or lack thereof) that will make or break your XC season, not whether or not you decide to run a marathon. If you can cultivate discipline in your approach to running, you'll excel at every level--from XC to the marathon. Running 26.2 miles is not what it's about. It's about the will to improve. I guess that's more than you asked for, but it's what I think. Good luck, and run hard!

      That was really interesting! Thanks for posting it. I have to say I was a little scheptical when I started reading, as I know it wasn't too long ago that the 'experts' were telling us all that running marathons was bad for our health. But they do a really nice job of documenting the increased risks for younger runners in particular, which is very interesting. And I agree with their opinion, generally. I do have to object to this part, however: "From injury surveillance data conducted on high school athletes in Seattle over a fifteen year period, the activity with the highest rate of injuries was girls cross-country; this injury rate was statistically significantly higher than the other known "high risk sports" of football, wrestling and gymnastics (26, 27, 28, 29). Boys cross-country also had a surprisingly high rate of injuries, placing fifth overall (behind girls cross-country, football, wrestling and girls soccer). Distance running among adolescent boys and girls is thus associated with a relatively high rate of injury. For these athletes, the competitive distance is no more than 3 miles (27, 28, 29). Thus, training to run in a marathon, which is more than eight times the usual cross-country competitive racing distance, is an inappropriate activity for young persons." I'm sure that these research articles cited (no, I'm not going to read them all.. Big grin) do say what they claim they say. But that doesn't necessarily lead to the conclusion they make in that last sentence! (I'm not saying I think young people should run marathons, just playing devils advocate because I hate seeing research being misused. Evil grin). For instance, I think it's likely that boys and girls XC does generate a greater absolute number of injuries, but I would bet my favorite running shoes that the injuries that most commonly occur in these running sports (shin splints, etc) aren't nearly as dangerous as those in football, soccer, basketball, etc (think torn ACL, severe fractures, etc). I'm not down playing our injuries, but is football really that much safer for young kids than long distance running? Give me a break... (no pun intended Tongue). Also, the 'psychological' implications of training for a marathon (loss of self confidence?) seem a little ridiculous.. perhaps they have it backward? The "female athelete triad" is a real problem, though (at least it was when I was in HS... and I suspect it's even worse now). I knew quite a few female runners who were struggling with eating disorders that were intricately linked to their athletics. When I got to college, I found this to be even more the case and quite a few men were stuggling with this too (probably they should rename this triad), particularly body-builder types! This is scary stuff... and requires a very careful/watchful coach to prevent it. All that said, I have to say I was persuaded by most of what that article said and I probably won't let my future 14 year old son run a marathon (unless there are some special circumstances). Sorry for the LONG response, but I didn't think JK would mind. Wink Big grin Big grin
        Agree 100% vicente. I played football and ran track in high school. I probably missed equal amounts of competition due to injuries in both sports but one of my footbal linjuries required 2 surgeries while my running injuries required ice.

        Runners run.

        Princess Cancer Pants

          All that said, I have to say I was persuaded by most of what that article said and I probably won't let my future 14 year old son run a marathon (unless there are some special circumstances).
          Hmmm...this has me thinking. My son is only just shy of 6 and while I think he could physically (mentally is another thing--I don't think he would be able to commit to the training to do it safely) do a 5k with me in the next year or two (and there were kids his age and even a bit younger who ran the first 5k that I did), I have been leery to consider it until he is closer to double-digits in age. I'm of the conservative better-safe-than-sorry mindset. Since he is still growing he only gets one chance for his body to develop properly. That said, if he were 14 and interested in doing a HALF marathon I think I would be OK with that, just so long as he trained smart and very carefully, not exceeding 10% increases/week and no showboating. Someday I hope he and I can run some races together, though it is likely that he will be much faster than his old ma with a lot less training. He's a long-legged thing already.... Tongue k

          '17 Goals:

          • Chemo

          • Chemo-Radiation

          • Surgery

          • Return to kicking my own ass by 2018


          She was not strong. She was valiant. Radiant. Brave and broken. The beauty she discovered in the aftermath was unparalleled to anything she had known before, because it had come at such a cost.

          ~ Unknown

            Sorry for the LONG response, but I didn't think JK would mind. Wink Big grin Big grin
            You're welcome. And long responses are always welcome. You've got some work to do to catch up with me, though. Take over for me for a while, will you? I can't disagree with anything you said, either. I wasn't offering up that article as fact, or even my opinion - just some interesting research. And it is interesting that they count injuries but don't offer some subjective measurements. As you suggest, it seems that they might be grouping a minor knees strain from running in with a compound fracture of the femur from football. The research would be more interesting if they categorized injuries somehow, maybe giving a number score to each by severity, and then reporting the results. Kind of reminds me of that old saw: statistics never lie, but liars use statistics. For instance: I've read that tennis players, soccer players, and even ping-pong players, suffer more reported injuries, statistically, than boxers. But that doesn't mean I'd prefer a left hook to the nose over a bruised elbow from a ping-pong table. They ain't exactly the same. Even if that last sentence you pointed to is accurate, it isn't specific enough, anyway. "Young persons" is pretty vague. Like I was saying to the original poster, I think whether it's bad for a kid would have to vary depending on a lot of factors. There are six foot 12-year olds who are fully developed that could probably run whatever they want. And I'd guess there are late bloomers actually OVER 18 that probably shouldn't be doing it. I think the concerns with young kids and long distances isn't really specific injuries, though, but what it might be doing long-term. I'd have the same concerns with serious weight training for the under-16 crowd, too. With both, I'd err on the side of caution if I had kids. Just because a 9 year old can run a marathon or bench 250 doesn't mean they ought to be doing it. Not if they're going to be paying for it at my age. But again, I only play a doctor on late night Cinemax movies. Consult your own physician, not the Doctor of Love.
            E-mail: JakeKnight2002@aol.com


              Kind of reminds me of that old saw: statistics never lie, but liars use statistics.
              I've heard something similar... three kinds of lies: "lies, damn lies, and statistics".... I think that was Mark Twain?
                If you click on my name you will see what I did when I was 14 years old, which has some relevance to this thread. It didn't do me any long-term harm although I do recall my legs were so stiff that I had to have 2 days off school - probably the result of getting cocky and biking 20 miles to encourage some of my friends home! I was back OK for lessons on Wednesday though. This soreness is not surprising really since I did no training at all other than my once a week cross country run at school. You will also note from the picture that I did it in my school shoes as that was all I had/could afford. I suppose in answer to your question it may not be sensible to run a marathon or ultra distance at such a young age particularly for a runner who has other set goals. However for me it was one of the greatest experiences of my life - one that will live with me forever. No doubt these days there would be some health & safety issue that would prevent youngsters taking part but I certainly would go for it again given the chance.


                3000 miles

                Sub 19:00 for 5K  05-03-13 Clee Prom 5K - 19:00:66 that was bloody close!

                Sub-40:00 for 10K 17-03-13 Gainsborough 10K - 39:43

                Sub 88:00 for HM


                Gotta Flee Em All

                  Whatever you do, avoid marathoning at all costs. Marathoning is just plain dumb. It is not physiologic, and is terribly unenjoyable. Moreover, you will get hooked. You will run one, say never again, and then find yourself running one a month. Avoid this at ALL costs!!! Wink Big grin

                    If you click on my name you will see what I did when I was 14 years old, which has some relevance to this thread.
                    Wow! That's really something.. and that's a great photo too! Shocked