Am I too old to start running? Will the body hold up if we let our child start this early? What is the best age to start? How do I know when to call it quits? These are just some of the questions that come up when it comes to our age and running. Is there a right age when you should start and is there an age when it becomes too dangerous?
Jonah Gorevic recently just broke the mile record for 10 years and younger.(10 year old breaks mile record )Competitive Runner wrote a piece on him and you can read it by clicking the link. Since this has happened I have noticed many people giving their opinion on what age it is safe to start a child running? On the flip side of the spectrum 91 year old Harriette Thompson set a U.S. record for the fastest marathon run in the 90-94 age group with a time of 8:53:08. Once again the question arose at what age does running become unsafe for the body?
Let me first state this is “MY” opinion. I am not a doctor, nor do I have children for that matter. I am also only 35 so I can’t say from personal experience on the later ages of running. I can only tell you what I have observed through 20 years of running.
Let’s start with at what age do you let a child start and at what age should you introduce longer distances. I am a firm believer that there are some people in this world that are given a gift. (Bobby Fischer was considered one of the best chess players at the age of 14. He played and beat men double his age. Adzo Kpossi was 13 when she competed in the 2012 London Olympics for swimming.) Some things just come natural to some people, so why hold them back. Isn’t one of the famous quotes we always hear is “The saddest thing in life is wasted talent”. If your child shows interest in running I say let them start out slowly and see what happens. Don’t push the child though. Pushing a child at any sport is never a good thing and usually the child will end up not wanting to play it due to pressure. Now at what age do you start letting them add on distance and start to run longer races? In my opinion each child is different and everyone’s body develops at its own rate. Some children are ready to move up more quickly than others. The topic of what effects will have on the body can go either way. Some doctors say there is no physical evidence to show a child running long distances to an adult are any different and both are at risk for the same injuries. While some doctors say the child is not done growing and it will have a long term effect on their ligaments and bones. If I had a child I would let them start running when I thought they could handle it, and I would introduce longer distances when I thought he/she was ready. I would try to have them hold off on doing anything longer than a 10K until the later teenage years, unless that child showed all the signs of being a prodigy. Which we all know is few and far between. I have seen firsthand some of the effects running can have on certain bodies. One gentleman I know has been running since he was in high school and is now in his fifties. He wears a brace on both knees now. He went from winning marathons and placing in almost every race he ran, to now struggling to break an 8 minute mile. I have also seen people who have been running for forty plus years and can still keep up with people half their age. Once again I think everyone has a different body and you have to listen to your body.
Now the other end of the Spectrum, what age does it become unsafe for you to run? I don’t think there is a definitive answer for this question. I mean be honest though we have all been running and came across that person and thought to ourselves, please don’t die while I am passing you. Hey once again if your body is up to it I say go get it. Shit I hope I am running when I am 80. I may be wearing a diaper while doing it, I may not know why I am running, but I will be running the best I can god willing. We only live life once and I say “Ride this mother f#cker until the wheels fall off”. If running is what keeps you sane in your old age then run. Every time I read a story about someone over 80 finishing a marathon I get inspired. I think now there is a person who is “living”. We should all be so lucky.
I guess I am a person that looks at age as number. A number that does not define me, a number that does not dictate what I can and can not do. I listen to my body and when that day comes that my body says it’s time to stop and call it quits, I will unhappily bow out. But until that day comes no matter what age I may be. I will be “living”, and by that I mean running.
Do you think age should play into what age you start and finish running?
If you are a parent I would love to hear your thoughts on this.