from Joan Hough
Juveniles and Road Running
- Coaches are very concerned with juvenile (under-age) athletes doing excessive training and running races on the road and the effects it can have on juvenile athletes.
- Coaching courses for juvenile recommends that we do not train juvenile athletes on the road for both safety and their own physical well-being.
- In the AI Competition Rule Book, on page 6, no. 10, under the Age Section, it states:
“Athletes must be 18 years of age to compete in events of 10,000m and over. The recommended distances for juveniles are as follows:
Up to 11year olds = 1mile: 12&13year olds – 2Km: 14&15 years - 3Km: 16 to18years – 5Km
Reasons Against Road-Running & Running Over-Distances
- Young athletes are still growing and developing well into their late teens.
- Joints and bones are still forming
- Bones are more brittle at a young age, so pounding on a hard surface is not advisable…it may affect bones in their feet, ankles, knees, femur, hips, etc such as stress-fractures.
- After a growth spurt, their biomechanics maybe un-co-ordinated due to lack of strength, thus creating a poor running form.
- Development of muscles ~ muscles are attached to the bone by tendons. Over development of muscles at a young age can put major pressure on the tendons during a growth spurt.
- An athlete’s Haemoglobin Count (Red Blood Cells) can be reduced due to pounding on the road, thus causing tiredness due to less oxygen being carried by the blood around the body(muscles)
Where to Run ~ Best Surfaces
- Grass is the best and most natural surface to run on ~ less impact on joints with little or no pounding and it also promotes natural strength and endurance.
- Forest Trials ~ natural trials are very good as they develop natural strength and endurance plus teaching the body to cope with different terrains and giving flexibility and strength to the ankles.
Why it is Important to Develop Speed at a Young Age
The two types of muscle involved in activity are:
- Fast Twitch Muscles
- Slow Twitch Muscles
In our genes we naturally have more of one than the other. However, when young (i.e. up to the late 20’s/30’s !!!) we should keep developing our fast twitch muscles to give us speed…..as many vets knows quite well, once we start losing our speed it is near to impossible to get it back. Long slow running does not develop our fast twitch muscles.
On the Track, the longest race for juvenile athletes is 300m at U/9, 500m at U/10 and 600m up to U/13 and 1,500m up to U/16.
These plus all other Track Events require Speed, Strength, Technique and good running Form.
While juveniles needs endurance as well as speed for Cross-Country, with races at 1km for U/9’s gradually increasing to 3km for U/14’s and up to 4km for U/19’s and Junior’s (U/20’s).