In the past, it was believed that running long distances could be damaging to young athletes. However, research has determined that it is generally safe for children to participate in this activity. To ensure their safety, experts have created guidelines for how much kids should run and how often, which vary by age.

Long-Distance Running for Kids

As participation in youth sports has increased, it has become increasingly apparent that there are key distinctions between adults and children regarding their physical and psychological makeup, especially regarding endurance activities. Notably, kids are less adept at regulating their body temperature and have lower aerobic capacity than adults. These dissimilarities must be taken into account when it comes to running long distances.

Children’s bodies typically generate more heat than adults due to their higher metabolic rate and exercise in hot weather. Additionally, they possess fewer sweat glands, making it more difficult to regulate their body temperature. As a result, kids are more prone to suffering from heat-related illnesses while exercising. Regarding physical activity, pre-pubescent children aren’t as capable as adults of developing aerobic capacity, so their training levels should be adjusted accordingly.

Overtraining Is a Common Error

Competitive sports are becoming more demanding and strenuous, especially among young athletes. An increase in overuse injuries such as tendinitis, apophysitis, and stress fractures can result from overtraining. Coaches, parents, and athletes must recognize the delicate balance between pushing the body to its highest potential and pushing it too far. Excessive strain on the body can lead to fatigue and injury if the body does not get the time it needs to rest and recover.

Running Recommendations

For young athletes, having fun and staying safe should be the priority. They should only participate in activities appropriate for their age, and the intensity and distance of their training should not exceed what is necessary for their competition goals. For instance, middle schoolers should not exceed 12.8 miles in a given week if they are aiming to compete in a 10K race. Up to age 14, children should exercise no more than three times per week, and those over 15 can increase their training to five days a week.

How to Prevent Running Injuries

It is essential to follow certain guidelines to avoid injury and keep young athletes in the game. Stretching before and after a run is essential, as is changing running shoes at least every 500 miles. Increase mileage by no more than ten percent per week, and incorporate easy days following hard workout/running days. 

Running on slanted or uneven surfaces should be avoided, and if the pain is experienced, it is important to remember that no pain, no gain does not apply here. Making mistakes while training the young athlete can be detrimental, so it is important to make smart decisions. Most of all, make sure the experience is enjoyable!


Long-distance running is an activity that requires dedication, consistency, and a proper running technique to be successful. Beginners need to understand the basics of running and be aware of its potential risks. Beginners should also build up gradually to longer distances, seek advice from experienced runners and stay hydrated and fuelled. By following these tips, beginner runners can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of long-distance running without putting their health and safety at risk.

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