Effects of long distance running on pre-adolescent children


I remember reading on this forum statements about negative effects of long distance running on children, something about it would limit the potential top end cardiovascular capacity of the athlete.

I’ve tried the search function and the google search, but I’m drawing blanks. Can anyone point me to the posts or the literature?

Thanks again!

OK, I’m getting more out of the search function tonight. Not long ago, “gymrob” posted on a phys education thread that

" Anaerobic-lactic loads: As has been said by Charlie, Number 2 and James in the past on this forum it is not smart to make young kids overdo exercises that accumulate lactate. It can lead to Left Ventricle Hypertrophy."

can anyone direct me to the literature on this? I do not believe it is in Drabik’s work.


Someone forgot to advise the Africans, bet they all have Left Ventricle Hypertrophy

My understanding is that if you cause this adaptation in children, it ignores that they may gravitate toward speed-power sports, and you limit their potential at speed-power activities.

I don’t think it limits their potential at endurance based sports. Basically, the negative is you are choosing an adaptation for them, limiting their potential at the wide variety of speed-power sports that they may want to pursue in the future.
Can somebody correct me if I’m wrong?

Edit: Reading through the massive and awesome Lactate Threshold thread, it appears that early endurance training may indeed have a negative impact on latter endurance performance according to information presented by Pierrejean.

Anaerobic-lactic loads are not LSD unless you’re doing it wrong. LSD is aerobic and that is what the literature suggests for children, adequate (not over) development of the aerobic system before pushing into anaerobic/lactic work. I have read about this in several places, but unfortunately can’t tell you where to find the literature on it.

I queried this in another thread some time ago but was never presented with a definitive source. Still curious…

Note that ventricular hypertrophy, in this was instance, was referring to the thickness of the ventricular wall, not the volume of the ventricle.

Yes, you don’t want an increase in the cardiac muscle thickness in kids. This is mainly what happens from anaerobic/lactic work with the heart. There is more pressure overload from this type of work which thickens the walls. Aerobic work causes volume overload and therefore an increase in venticular volume.

Pressure vs Volume Overload.jpg

Cardiac Cell Hypertrophy.jpg

Below is an interesting article on Burnout and injury with Elite female runners: I have to post in 2 parts as the file is too large. Charlie


By Marc Bloom

Julia Stamps, 24, a former child prodigy in running, ran her first marathon, New York City, in November 2002. It was probably the easiest 26.2 miles of her life.
Stamps, who grew up in California and moved to Manhattan in June 2002 to work in the financial services field, was a running star from her first strides in seventh-grade. At Santa Rosa High School, she made headlines as a 14-year-old freshman, winning
state championships and setting records in track and cross-country. For her speed and lithe physique, Stamps was heralded as the next Mary Slaney, an American Olympic runner.
Training 45 to 50 miles a week, Stamps lived up to her billing for a time. As a freshman in 1994, she won the first of three consecutive national junior (age 19 and
under) 3,000-meter titles, defeating college women. As a sophomore, she won the national high school 5,000-meter cross-country title. But in her junior and senior years, Stamps lost her dominance, collapsing twice like a ragdoll in national meets. She was frustrated and confused and often got sick. She won a track scholarship to Stanford but did not realize her extraordinary potential as a runner. She was injured, lost her passion for competing, took up other sports and at one point nearly gave up running for good.
Stamps became a symbol for a generation of high-achieving, young female runners who wither in adolescence before having a chance to fulfill their promise. At a time of tender growth, many of these girls train at a high level, which often leads to injury, impaired health and physical and emotional scars that can last for years. “At age 13 or 14 when girls experience rapid growth-what we call ‘peak height velocity’-their bones
grow long but have not yet solidly mineralized into good, strong structures,” said Dr. Angela Smith, orthopedic surgeon specializing in pediatric sports medicine at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia. “During this period, girls in running also don’t have the muscle for shock absorption,” Smith said. “Girls are at maximum risk for injury and should back off hard training.” Smith and other doctors said running moderately is healthy for young girls. However, training intensively at a young age also carries psychological as well as
physical risks. Stamps, who graduated from Stanford last spring without winning any major titles, said she felt “tremendous pressure” as a young runner in high school.
“I tried to compete against myself,” Stamps said in a recent interview. “But you can’t do that every day. I needed a break. I had other interests outside of running that I wanted to pursue but was not able to. I was cursed.” “I wore myself thin,” she said. “I had no time to rest.” Dr. Smith said that she had recently cared for a patient who, as a high school freshman, was so fast she made the varsity cross-country team. She became
the team’s best runner and the coach gave her extra workouts. But she also grew very quickly, Smith said, and sustained three stress fractures in her legs. The girl was unable to finish the season. Girls who excel in running at a young age often experience a temporary slowing of performance once their menstrual cycle starts. “They gain fat and in some cases there is a decrease in iron stores and hemoglobin level of the blood,” said Dr. Oded Bar-Or, director of the Children’s Exercise and Nutrition
Center at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, and a leading researcher in the field. “Less hemoglobin reduces the capacity of the blood to carry oxygen. Fitness level in girls, their maximal oxygen uptake, decreases after age 12 or 13.” Many girls who confront these natural changes after early success, like Erin Davis, a former star at
Saratoga Springs High School in upstate New York, ultimately drop out of competitive running. In 1993, Davis became the first and only freshman to capture
the national high school cross-country title. That freshman season was her best in high school and in an interview at the time Davis said, “If you do a hard workout, it might hurt, but if you hit all your times, it’s a great feeling.” Davis received a track scholarship to Penn State and was graduated in 2002 without living up to her high school records. “Erin had significant injuries that prevented her from training at a high level,” said
Beth Alford-Sullivan, women’s track and cross-country coach at Penn State who coached Davis in her last two years. “Her motivation was down. By the time I inherited her, she did not have the drive or passion to compete or train.” In resurrecting herself, Stamps may exemplify a new development in which female runners rise from a
turbulent adolescence to regain their zest for running. Stamps, who is now injury-free, ran the 2002 New York City Marathon in 2 hours 54 minutes 47 seconds, outstanding for a first-timer. She placed 30th among the women. “It felt easy,” said Stamps, who trained 40 to 50 miles a week on a busy work schedule. “I ran even pace
all the way, about 6:30 per mile, and it took me only a week to recover.” Stamps, running daily in Central Park, has since increased her training to 65 miles a week. She had other marathons in her plans and hoped to achieve the 2004 women’s Olympic trials qualifying standard of 2:48 and perhaps contend for a berth on the American
team for Athens. Two U.S. Olympic marathon hopefuls, Deena Drossin,
30, and Milena Glusac, 27, both of California, also were teenage prodigies who had faltering college careers and were assumed to be lost for good. Both made patient comebacks and in 2001, Drossin and Glusac placed first and second among American women in the New York City Marathon. The only American women to win Olympic track and field medals in distance racing–Joan Samuelson in the marathon in 1984 (gold) and Lynn Jennings in the 10,000 meters in 1992 (bronze)–both chose to
de-emphasize their college running careers. Samuelson attended Bowdoin, an NCAA Division III school in her native Maine. Jennings went to Princeton where she
competed intermittently. Of course, not every top American woman runner has
endured a downward spiral in performance after showing early promise. Suzy Favor-Hamilton, who starred as a schoolgirl, has been a consistent performer as an
older runner, winning nine N.C.A.A. titles at Wisconsin; now 34, she has been a world-class miler for a decade. High school and college meets in cross-country and
track can add up to as many as 300 to 400 races for a distance runner by the time he or she is 21. Some experts find this amount of racing too much for boys as well as girls. But boys have more muscle mass and a greater ability than girls of the same age to
transport oxygen to the muscles during strenuous running. Boys also do not have to confront the complex adolescent growth issues of girls. In many cases, doctors say, girls’ risk of injury is exacerbated by delayed menstruation, which has been

Part 2:

associated with heavy training. “A number of studies indicate that if a girl burns a
lot more energy than she takes in, she will not start a new function like reproduction,” said Dr. Smith. “Every day in my practice, I see at least one girl
with menstrual disturbance.” Absence of a menstrual period results in low estrogen
levels and thin bones. “When girls finally get their periods, we see quantum improvements in their healing from injury,” said Dr. Smith. “Whether that’s from
eating more or the additional impetus of estrogen, nobody knows.” Concerns over injuries and burnout led Dick Brown, a nationally-known coach from Oregon who has worked with Slaney and other professionals, to launch a radical program this year aimed at improving American success in Olympic and world events. Brown intends to recruit female high school runners to train with him in Oregon while they attend a local college. But the women will not compete for the college; they will compete instead
on a less frequent basis for a club. Brown has begun fund-raising to pay for the runners’ education and training expenses. An American man has not won the New York City
Marathon since Alberto Salazar in 1982; an American woman has not triumphed since Miki Gorman in 1977. The last American man to win the Boston Marathon was Greg
Meyer in 1983. Brown said that this drought, which extends worldwide, is caused in part by runners having over-raced in college. “After college,” he said, “athletes’ bodies need to heal.” In a surprising backlash to the major-college system, two young women who were high school stars in 2001-02, Amber Trotter of California and Natasha Roetter of
Massachusetts, decided not to join Division I programs when she entered college in the fall of 2002. Trotter, who won the national high school cross-country title in the fall of 2001 by 40 seconds, attends Middlebury College in Vermont, a Division III
school. “I don’t want to be a piece of meat in the corporate sports world,” Trotter said defiantly in an interview then. “I run for the joy it brings me.” Trotter’s joy has been suspended by a year-long sciatic nerve injury. She’s being treated at Middlebury and did not compete her freshman year. Trotter also is battling a long-term eating disorder
about which she has spoken publicly. Roetter is a sophomore at Duke. She placed third in the high school cross-country nationals despite a succession of injuries. In August ‘02, when her first semester was about to begin, Roetter told the Blue Devils’ coaches that she did not want to run for the team as a freshman and would give up her
$37,000-a-year athletic scholarship. “I underestimated the intensity of Division I
running,” Roetter said in an interview. “I’m enjoying my classes and like having some time for myself. I still run, but at my own pace. If I ran on the team, I would probably end up running myself into the ground.” (After a year off, Roetter has reconsidered her
running, and according to Duke coaches may compete on the team starting in the fall of 2003.) Some experts believe that burnout among young runners is made more likely by rules in about a dozen states that permit middle-school athletes to compete on
varsity teams. In New York, seventh- and eighth-graders who pass a fitness test and emotional screening can run high school track and cross-country. Nina VanErk, executive director of the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association, said the program “permits student-athletes who are exceptional to compete at a level that best suits them.” At Saratoga Springs High, Erin Davis used this program to win her first state championship in eighth-grade. The current Saratoga star is a sophomore, Nicole Blood, who has led the team since eighth-grade and won many state and invitational titles. “I don’t feel pressure and I’m getting experience for when I’m older,” Blood said in an interview as a freshman after she won a national high school
cross-country event in Charlotte, North Carolina, in the fall of 2002. Saratoga coach Linda Kranick, whose squad was the number-1 ranked girls cross-country team in the nation last fall, said each athlete is considered individually. “You have to know which athlete can move up to the varsity and which ones should be kept back
at the J.V. or freshman level.” California is among the states that does not permit
such advancement for middle school students. Don Chadez, athletic director at Corona High School in Riverside, Calif., and a former track and cross-country coach for 26 years, sees potential harm in the New York policy. “It’s counterproductive in the long range,” said Chadez. “Girls that young are not ready to handle the pressures of older girls. You have only so many years to excel in distance running and if you start at 12 or
13 you’re going to burn out early.” Dr. William Roberts, a pediatric sports medicine
specialist in the Minneapolis area and a vice-president of the American College of Sports Medicine, views with concern the practice of permitting middle-school athletes on the high school varsity. “When I look at a couple of these eighth-grade girls
in cross-country, they’re too skinny and look awful,” Roberts said. “They are potentially malnourished.” Aware of the burnout pattern, Patrick Shane, women’s coach at Brigham Young, the reigning N.C.A.A. women’s cross-country champion, said, “In recruiting, I don’t look at stars in eighth, ninth or even tenth grade. Their success means nothing. They haven’t grown up yet and matured into young women.” Some parents are unconcerned about frequent competition and intensive training at a young age.
Roger Jackucewicz is a father from Howell, N.J., whose 12-year-old daughter, Briana, competes weekly while training up to 50 miles a week. Briana, a 62-pound
seventh-grader, has been racing since age 6 and last fall set a national record for 11-year-old girls, 17 minutes 42 seconds for a 5-kilometer road race. Her
older sister, Leisha, now a high school senior, had followed a similar program. In the summer of 2002, Leisha had surgery on both legs for running injuries.
Jackucewicz, who rides his bike pacing Briana in pre-dawn training before school, said in an interview that he was preparing his daughter for high school competition. He said he was careful to have her train mostly on soft park trails as opposed to concrete
roads. He also said Briana takes breaks every few miles and runs at a comfortable pace. “I like to expose them to things at an early age,” said Jackucewicz. “Both girls are expert skiers and do extreme skiing in Canada. Running is just one thing. They’re avid readers and at the top of their class in school.” The New York Road Runners prohibits children under 12 from participating in its races. The minimum age for
the New York City Marathon is 18. When she was 18 and struggling in high school races, Julia Stamps never dreamed she would one day run a marathon. At Stanford, a torn hamstring muscle and a stress fracture in her sacrum sidelined her for two
years. Then, in March of 2001, when she was finally healed in her senior season, Stamps blacked out while riding a skateboard and fell. “I totally shattered my left leg with two complete fractures from top to bottom,” Stamps recalled. “Doctors told me I’d never run again.” Stamps had two operations and was on crutches for
seven months. In March 2002, while on vacation in Costa Rica, Stamps tried running. For the first time in years, she felt no pain. By late June, Stamps was doing 20-mile runs with plans for New York. Her recent training pace has quickened to six minutes per
mile and Stamps feels she has a chance to live up to her early promise. “I feel fabulous,” said Stamps. “Running the marathon didn’t hurt a bit. It’s a miracle, like I’m running with a halo.” #