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11-Year Old Boy Running

My 11-year old son has run competitively in track for the past couple of years. He has run the 1500m in 5:17 (3/2011) and the 3000m in 11:17 (3/2011).

His goal is to medal this summer (8/2011). That would mean that he would have to run 5:00 and 10:50 in the 1500m and 3000m, respectively.

He's run a couple of road race 5Ks, but his times drop off to mid-21s. I do not want him to race longer distances.

I worry about burnout or possible injury. He is active in other sports -- soccer and basketball -- but is not passionate about them like he is with running. He especially loves running on a track.

I want to keep it fun for him. When we go on "long runs" together of 5K to 6K, we'll bring along a tennis ball to toss around. He is actively doing something (running, soccer, or basketball) five days a week.

His track team practices start in about 40 days. With that said, what workouts would you recommend for him to do to help him reach the podium in four months?







running tips

Answer by Dominique:


Hi there,
Thanks for your question.

I have left it for a few days, as I never know how to answer these questions satisfactorily.

The thing is that I don't really want to give advice regarding running for kids.

It's not my area of expertise and I just think mistakes are too costly to make when kids are involved.

The good thing is that you have a healthy focus on keeping things fun, so after thinking about it for a while I think I can give you some advice, which won't harm your son.

Generally speaking I think that he will make progress anyways when he stays active like he is now. Basketball and soccer will give him a lot of speed training already and that's in addition to his track training.

Therefore, if anything, I would say to keep up the somewhat longer runs as you do now, i.e. 5k-6k runs. This will help increase his endurance, which is a very important factor, even in races of "only" 1,500 - 3,000 metres.

People need the stamina first. If you don't have that, then being fast is not going to help you. Or only for the first few hundred metres.

Indicative of his need to build his base / increase his stamina is that when you check his 1,500 metre time against his 3,000 metre time there is already a level of deterioration.

When you go to my race conversion calculator and type in his 1,500m time and then "predict" his 3,000m time you will see this.

This is part and parcel of growing up / getting used to running longer distances. At first you will not be able to run a longer race as fast as the calculator predicts. It's only when you have built up your base that you will be able to go faster.

The benefits of building his base will not only be that his 3,000 metres time will improve, his 1,500 metres will get better as well.

This combined with track work, soccer and basketball should see him improve.

For more information also see my base running page which aims to explain the benefits of running easy and far, rather than fast and short.

Hope this helps.
Kind regards,
Dominique

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