How Young is Too Young to Marathon?

How Young is Too Young to Marathon?

How young is too young to run a full marathon?  Young runners often face  joint problems as their bodies continue to grow.  KT Tape can be a helpful tool in treating running pains like knee pain.  But the question remains, when is the right age for children to kick-off their long distance running career? 

There is much debate on the issue, so we did a little research and found a great article from on the subject. 

Read below for the article.

Should minors run marathons? The topic engenders considerable debate, both among runners and the medical community.

When the RT editors discussed the topic, we discovered that two out of six of us had completed a marathon before we were 18 -- both more than 25 years ago -- and we are still running strong. Arthur Lydiard felt that there was no problem with 12-year-olds running regular 20-mile runs. But some serious voices disagree.

In 2001, The International Marathon Medical Directors Association (IMMDA) issued a position statement that concluded, "It is in the overall best interests of children to make participation in a full marathon an adult activity, reserved only for those 18 years old and older," citing concerns about overuse injuries, psychological burnout, increased risk of the female athlete triad (disordered eating, amenorrhea, and osteoporosis) and decreased ability of children to withstand heat stress.

In 2005, however, Dr. William Roberts, Medical Director for the Twin Cities Marathon, published a response to that statement in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, in which he argued it is "difficult to single out long distance running even at the marathon level as a significant risk to long-term health and well-being compared with baseball, ice hockey, soccer, gymnastics, figure skating, and football, or the extreme sports that children and adolescents choose to escape adult supervision." Dr. Roberts went on to report, regarding the Twin Cities Marathon, "To date, none of the under-18 entrants have required care in the medical tent at the marathon finish line." He concluded that while he would not encourage participation of children in marathons, there is no evidence to restrict it either, and proposed 14 guidelines for races, children and their parents. (See for the full discussion and guidelines.)

Our medical advisor, Dr. Cathy Fieseler, suggests these simple guidelines:

  1. The runner should not be attempting to complete a marathon during or just before his/her competitive season. Just finishing the distance is one thing, but a hard, competitive marathon requires considerable recovery and can sabotage a season or a high school or college career.
  2. The idea should come from the kid, not a parent or coach.
  3. There should be no pressure; the child should be allowed to drop out of training at any time if it is more than they can or want to handle.


All good advice.  Running a full marathon is no small task and takes a lot of mental and physical preparation.  So regardless of the distance your favorite running youngster is planning to attempt, KT Tape has them (and you) covered for any aches or pains they may encounter along the way.

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