I am interested in finding out what the research shows about the effects of training for and running a marathon for a teen. One of my clients has a 14 year old son who has expressed interest in running a marathon with his dad. Can you please help me?
I admit to having no knowledge of research that shows any concrete data pertaining to training and/or training effect related to young teens and marathons.
I have natural concerns with respect to this practice. Peak height velocity is occurring at or around this age, which can place a tremendous amount of stress on the body's structure (joints and soft tissue). The repetitive pounding associated with high volume marathon training could certainly add or contribute to the likely dysfunctions that are occurring through the hip complex and various other regions in the body.
Secondarily, in the interest of safe and altruistically sound athletic development, it is critical to understand that although our society shows a constant zeal towards the opposite, athletes who are 14 years old should not be “training” with any type of specific competitive goals in mind, especially ones that are strenuous from a volume and repetitive strain standpoint.
Appropriate training for children and teens is about understanding and honoring the body's natural progression through human growth and development. Critical at this age is a regaining of adequate range of motion through basic motor patterns (such as squatting and lunging) as they are often compromised during peak height velocity. Additional elements to consider are advanced coordination efforts (such as balance and movement adequacy) as well as systemic strength.