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Distance

Answered By Mick Grant & John Molvar

Question

Dear Coach, I'm a pediatrician and occasionally I am asked how far, how long, and how often it is safe to let a child run. For example, a 9 year old who plays soccer 2 hours a day (which involves a fair amount of running but it's difficult to quantify distance). I saw your recommendations for distances for fun runs, but I'm wondering on more for regular exercise daily or 3-4 times a week both in terms of time, distance and frequency based on age. Thanks, Katya

Answer

Dear Katya, We practice up to five days per week. My most experienced 13-14 year olds will run up to 4-5 miles on trails 2 or 3 times a week and 2-3 miles on trails on the other days. Our practices last about 90 minutes and include stretching, some plyometrics, form drills and strides (50-100 meters at a designated pace). We work a lot on perfecting running form. The longest race by any pre-high school athlete on my team ran this summer is 800 meters. I did have a 13 year old run a 1600 relay leg over the winter as part of a distance medley relay. I am a believer in developing speed now and let the distance training we do build strength. I have two high school girls who run exclusively for our club (not for their high school), and they both are sub-5 minute milers. That reinforces to me that we are on the correct path. I also think kids have more fun running fast than they have running far. It is also safer for them long term, in my opinion. Best Wishes, Coach Mick and John

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