Should Children Run Marathons?

  • By Duncan Larkin
  • Published Feb. 23, 2011

Two studies concerning the safety of youth running have recently been conducted.

An article posted on The New York Times‘ Health blog asks a question for parents of young runners: should children run marathons? “The question has received surprisingly little scientific scrutiny,” writes author Gretchen Reynolds.

Where other youth sports such as football, baseball, and hockey are studied extensively, youth running is not. However, two studies have recently emerged regarding children and safe running. Unfortunately, the results are incompatible.

The first study, published this month in Clinical Pediatrics, looked at data from the emergency room visits with respect to young runners nationwide from 1997 to 2007. The injuries were not related to running while completing other sports like football, and instead focused solely on running specifically.

The results: “More than 225,340 young runners visited an emergency room during the 14-year study period, with the number of injuries rising almost every year.” The type of injuries varied differently depending on the age of the child.

The second study, published last year, examined whether children as young as seven can safely complete a marathon.

For More The New York Times

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Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin is the news editor at and a freelance journalist who’s been covering the sport of running for over five years. He’s run 2:32 in the marathon and won the Himalayan 100-Mile Stage Race in 2007. His first running book, RUN SIMPLE, was released last July.

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