Youth Running Advice for Different Age Groups

2013-04-26T17:39:11-04:00Nutrition & Fitness|

SportsSignup is a proud sponsor of the Freihofer’s Junior 3K Run. This 1.86-mile road race (for 9-13 year old boys and girls) is scheduled for Saturday June 1, 2013 at the Empire State Plaza in Downtown Albany at 11:15 a.m. There is still plenty of time left to register your youth runner (and Mom can sign up for the Women’s 5k until May 31) and get a few runs under their belt before the gun goes off! But different age groups have to run a little differently, so here are few pieces of advice for youth runners and their parents.


According to, “Doctors and coaches agree that kids should not start Youth Running Advice for Different Age Groupsrunning in any purposeful way before they start kindergarten.” The concern is that since younger children don’t have a very steady running gait they are at risk for injury. The last thing we want is for a four year old to get shin splints! Preschoolers also have very short attention spans, so running more than a few hundred yards is going to get old fast. How fast and how far they run will also be dependent on how coordinated they are so just let the little kids run however they run and worry about “real” running when they get a little older.

Freihofer’s also has a Kids’ Run for kids ages 3-11 so little brother and sister can get running too!

5-8 year olds

The biggest concern with 5-8 year olds should be to keep them from getting bored with running. This is something we want them to learn to love doing now so it sticks with them for the rest of their lives. Very few adults enjoy running in a straight line for mile after mile so don’t expect the kids to like it either. A great way to encourage running among 5-8 year olds is to make it part of their normal play. Think about how many playground games revolve around running; tag, capture the flag, kick the can and so forth. Kids can do a lot of running during those games and not be the slightest bit bored!

You might be able to convince 5-8 year olds to short races with each other, but many experts, however, warn against serious 5-Ks for those under 8. However, if a 7 or 8 year old is having a good time just let them run!

9-12 year olds

As youth runners get older there are a lot more clubs and competitive running organizations they can join but even though you can run all year-round it’s still a good idea to let kids play other sports. “As the long bones in kids’ legs grow, the cartilage is not ossified, and hard running can lead to discomfort near the ends of the bones. When this syndrome strikes the knee–a common running condition known as Osgood-Schlatter–it can be very painful and may require medical attention.” Again, we don’t want to hurt or burnout our youth runners! When they are younger kids typically have two speeds—on or off. As they get a little older they can learn how to pace themselves and work up to longer distances.

If your son or daughter wants to race in the Junior 3k check out these youth running and training tips!