By Anna Lee Boschetto
Wondering if your child is ready to run an endurance race? Here’s a little healthy guidance from Run Canada to help you decide. Your child may be used to running on the soccer field, basketball court and playground, but when it comes to endurance running, going too far, too fast can do more harm than good.
While the consensus is that the minimum age for marathons is 18, requirements can vary for other endurance distances, including 10Ks and half- marathons. That’s why it’s so important for parents to understand the risks before allowing their children to register for an event.
IN THE HEAT
“We know scientifically, a child’s body doesn’t adapt to heat as well as an adult’s body, so you have to be careful of heat stroke,” explains Kerry Copeland, coordinator for Kids Run Club, a school-based running program offered throughout Nova Scotia. Not only does a child’s body produce more heat than an adult’s, but it also absorbs more heat from the environment.
BE SAFE: Along with the time of year, check the time of day when the event will take place, and choose shorter distances during the hotter months.
For young girls specifically, the intense endurance training can result in the female athlete triad, which consists of disordered eating, amenorrhea (one or more missed menstrual periods) and osteoporosis. In addition, leanness— which is believed to ensure higher performance in endurance running— can be a factor in young female runners developing these conditions.
ENJOY THE RUN: Keep the focus on individual improvement and participation not on performance.