How far should a 7 yr old run?

Hi, I'm a newbie and only started running in January to accompany my 7yr old daughter who wants to run.

We've been working up pretty slow but steady. I am now running just over 4 miles. My daughter is entering a race on 3rd May for 1.5km. But she wants to run further.

The other day she came out with me plus my 6 yr old. We all ran 1.5km together (about 11 mins) and then we walked back and dropped my younger daughter off at home. The two of us continued on. Ran up a hill and around the route I usually take. After 22 mins I eased into a walk for 5 mins, then we jogged another 2 mins home.  We run at pretty much the same pace and although i didn't measure exactly I guessing that she probably did a total of 3 miles that day.

Is that too much? She wants to do more. Should I just let her build up slow? Or put a limit on it. She a very healthy, extremely skinny girl who loves to run!

Thanks for any advice you can give me.



  • When you consider that the marathon world record for a 7 year old girl is 3:51:54 it might give you some idea of what 7 year olds are really capable of.

    I'm not suggesting for one minute that you encourage her to run that far but, equally, there isnt any need to overdo the cotton wool wrapping either.

  • Your local running club should have a children's section.  Ask them, they should be able to advise.  And she might like getting to know other kids of her age who run.
  • I've been trying to encourage mine to do more running. They are 9 and 11 and have completed two one mile races. Apart from a bit of training for those they moan their bloody heads off if I suggest running.

    Your seven year old is obviously still growing so don't go mad with her running, but I know quite a lot of primary age kids who've done Race for Life in reasonable times and lived to tell the tale.

  • the running club will not have them running more than a mile at most..........

    are you running on roads or off obviously running on roads gives the legs a pounding and therefore is not good for growing bones  especially the end parts......

    you have to be 14 in this country before you are allowed to take part in a 5k race and 16 before they can do a 10k race. I know this sounds like cotton wool affect but in the 70's when kids were encouraged to run long didstances on tarmac then there were a lot of damage done to growing bones..........

    so children are encouraged to ahve fun and work on speed and good running styles etc before they are encouraged to do long runs on hard surfaces.......

    I'm glad she likes running but either in a club or maybe taking part in a team sport would be a better wy of exercise at her ageimage

    good luck

  • UK Athletics Model

    The following is an example of a five stage progression (UK Athletics model) for long term athlete development:

    1. Fundamentals - where the emphasis is on fun, developing basic fitness and general movement skills - training years 1 to 3 and ideally a chronological age of 6 to 13.
    2. Learning to Train - where the emphasis is to learn how to train and develop their general skills - training years 3 to 5 and ideally a chronological age of 10 to 15.
    3. Training to Train - where the emphasis is event(s) specific training - training years 5 to 7 and ideally a chronological age of 13 to 17.
    4. Training to Compete - where the emphasis is to correct weaknesses and develop athletic abilities - training years 7 to 9 and ideally a chronological age of 15 to 19.
    5. Training to Win - where the emphasis is on enhancing performance - training years 10+ and ideally a chronological age of 18+.
    Ages 7 to 11: Avoiding "little league syndrome"

    Children need exercise: they need to develop their bodies and their brains, and the best way of doing this is by having fun at the same time. Exercise also offers a way of learning about the world and how it works. Sport, like life, has its rules, its constraints and its set boundaries. Like life, it tries to be fair but does not always succeed. The child learns the hardest but most valuable lesson of all - that they have limits. The parent has to find out what the child can and cannot do well. They must offer the child lots of opportunities and help them to select the ones which will best help them grow as a person. The "Tiger Woods model" is not a good one to follow, because this involves a parent imposing a regime at an age when the child is not in a position to make a choice. For every success this model produces, there are hundreds of frustrated children who are being blamed for not living up to their parents' expectations. During the primary school years, the child should be encouraged to run, but not forced to do so. A common reason for running is to be like Mum and Dad, and this is fine. If there is a local club, which caters for under 9’s and under 11s, encourage them to go along, as long as the regime there encourages variety and non-specialisation.

    How far should a child run at this age?

    Basically, they can run for as long as they want, as long as it is at their own pace. The biggest danger for modern children, particularly city kids, is lack of exercise, producing a downward spiral where inactivity leads to obesity, which makes them less inclined to do anything. Long runs on tarmac are not a good idea, but there is no reason why they should not go out training for 50 or 60 minutes, as long as this time is broken up. Children have the common sense to slow down or walk when they feel tired. A typical pattern for a club evening might be:

    5 minutes running round the field ,10 minutes of exercises, usually with a partner , 4 to 8 laps of the track ( 1 to 2 miles) broken up into fast and slow sections, 15 minutes practicing a skill ( e.g. a jumping or throwing event) , 2 short-sprint relay races, in different teams ,5 minutes continuous relay (paarlauf) ,2 laps slow jog .

    The emphasis in this phase should always be on variety.

  • Our Junior Running Club will do more relays/efforts/drills than long runs with the children. We have children from 7-15 year olds and we may do a longer run, but it won't be any more than a mile. School events won't be more than 800m anyway, and most want to focus on that to see better results. It should also be about coordination and skill-base at this age. Hope that helps.

  • I think you can probably over analyse this one.

    The idea that there is some sort of danger from a 7 year old doing huge volumes of training is a bit far fetched. There is an inbuilt 'call it a day when it starts to get hard' function in every 7 year old that I've ever come across so just go with the flow.... let the enthusiasm run its course.

    There's more risk of boredom setting in than obsession!

  • MoraghanMoraghan ✭✭✭
    If only all the adult runners would spend a little time working on general movement skills and good running form. 
  • Curly45Curly45 ✭✭✭

    There was a kid who cant have been older than 3 at the track last night - running 400m laps (following his parents around, thoroughly enjoying himself)...not British though!

    Oh and if you want to get her into some races under 14s are allowed at parkrun (free 5ks around the country) - there was a 7yr old at Bradford last weekend image 

  • A 7 year old who finished in the top half of the field I might add .....
  • bol saucebol sauce ✭✭✭

    I started running with my 8 year old step grandson last summer. He's into sports anyway and is a slim build. He's also a member of Wakefield Harriers, and they do a variety of other sports not just running, to keep it interesting.

    When we started, I told him the very first time that we went out, that he had  to stop & walk if he was tired & I do keep a close eye on him for when he gets hot, and like one of the other posts said above, if he wants to stop, he does, I never had to mention it to him again! I am really concerned about his bones and joints as he grows, so as long as he enjoys himself, we're both happy.

    Best thing to come out of it though, is that when we walk we chat away about loads of stuff, more than we ever have done when at home or anywhere else - it's just me & him & whatever he wants to say.

    Only thing about him walking though is that we did a santa dash last December, and I really thought we were in with a chance of winning (the only time it could ever happen with me!), started at the front, well ahead of others, then he stopped to walk & check he would be having a Macdonalds after. He did sprint over the finish line though, & was dead chuffed about his medal.

  • Thanks so much for all these replys! I really do appreciate your reponse, advice and info.

    We did start out on the roads just from our front door, but now I also take them to a playfield and we enjoy trail running round the woods near our home. BS - you are right about the conversation - they talk non-stop! We are already gathering treasured memories.

    The running club in our home town only accepts members aged 16+ who can run 4 miles. The next nearest club has to be 9+. The third meets at 7pm on a Thursday evening and since that is a school night it too late for my daughters to be out. 

    So from the responses above I'm getting:-

    A) Keep it fun 

    B) Run on soft surfaces

    C) Let her set her own pace, and don't worry too much about the distance as long as she is comfortable.

    Curly45 - I also have a 3yr old. She cries every time we go out because she wants to come too. So when I arrive home I take out for a 200m run by herself. She's a tiny poppet and still runs in the flat foot toddler style, but boy! does she enjoys it.

    Thanks again


  • Can we do a swap?

    Mine are one not very careful owner, but can make coffee and put their own washing in the right baskets!image

  • Curly45Curly45 ✭✭✭

    Chilli - sounds like you are going to be busy in future then!!!

    Have fun image

  • My 2 year old always says that she is "running" since we allowed her out of the pushchair to get her used to walking. 

    I once walked into the garage to find my 5 year old, his mate and the 2 year old doing their "exercise", one on the treadmill (turned off, won't let them know how it is turned on), one on the cross trainer and one on the sit up thingy-ma-jig!  And when I kicked them out into the garden, they tried to take the weights with them! 

    I only hope that they are still into it all when they are actually old enough to do "exercise".  Don't want couch potatoes!

  • Bloody hell, she only wants to run, not juggle with knives!  Let her run as far as she wants, when she gets tired and has had enough, she'll stop - no problem!  That's the trouble with parents these days, too much cotton wool wrapping... image
  • My daughter started doing ParkRuns when she was 5, she is now 9 and has done 24 of them.

    She first asked to run with me as a 3 year old but we waited until she was 4. All started with 3 mins up the road and back again. The furthest she has gone is 4.5 miles.

    Currently she shows no desire to run further and I have no problem with that.

    I did the LAMarathon last month though and saw a 10 year old run 3.04.
  • Somebody needs to tell my 11 year old that she is unlikely to die if I suggest she walks to the shops for a loaf of bread!image

    Gobi - I sincerely hope you didn't get beat by a 10 year old! Tell me you went sub 3 as usual!image

  • LOL Liver - I was on a jolly and posing for photos jogged in around 3.04.xx. I had to be standing around to see him finish :¬)
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