Marathon for a 16 year old

I have a work colleague who is currently 16 and he really wants to run a marathon with me.  He can run 12 miles in about an hour and a half, so I think that I could train him up to the required level.  My questions are:

1. Is there any good reason why a 16 year old should not run a marathon?

2. Is there any event likely to accept him?

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Comments

  • I think some of the european mara's accept 16 year olds...not aware of any UK ones that do
  • The best good reason is that he is still growing. His bones and muscles are immature.

    And it's a hell of a strain on a kid.

    He probably has 80+ years to live yet. What's the rush?

  • He can do LDWA events as these are offroad and can be run or walked................these are obviously better as they are no on tarmac and there for do not damange the growing joints of them................there is one next month which my 16 year old son is doing................but he will be doing it with me for fun and not racing it so not pushing it........

    at 16 you can enter 5k and 10k races in this country but not half marathons or above..................just to protect them and this is more important for boys than girls who are stilll growing at a rate at this age..............

    his long runs at the moment should not be on tarmac either as its not very forgiving.....

    If you do start training him.( not sure if you have any qualifications) but remember at that age he will not be aware of the danger signs from his body and may not recognise the difference between a niggle and an injury....also macho male hormones might mean he will not admit if he is in pain and so might well develop a serious injury

  • BeetleBeetle ✭✭✭

    If he wants to do it and is fit enough he should do it (assuming he can obtain entry).

    We`re far too cautious about our kids and teenagers. We regularly underestimate their capacities and capabilities. A 16 year old is not going to be crippled by a marathon (especially if he/she does the training). If you can provide some guidance and structure -  go for it.

    Not sure that any UK marathons accept 16 year olds. I know that Berlin does.

  • Fido2DogsFido2Dogs ✭✭✭
    Hi Ben,
    Does he want to run the same marathon as you or a marathon *with* you - it sounds like he's quite nippy!
    So he can already run 12 miles, if that can be nudged up to at least one long run of over 18 then that should set him up to finish OK - particularly if you make him do negative splits in the event itself so he doesn't end up as one of those young lads you ALWAYS see in races who have gone off too fast and are now being overtaken by ladies old enough to be their gran.
    You should be able to provide him with sensible advice I'm sure. I wouldn't have thought a novice marathon program (personally I suspect someone could get by with taking the 3 longest runs a week from Hal Higdon novice, or even 2!) would be dangerous as long as he stays mellow. image
  • BeetleBeetle ✭✭✭

    Fido, how refreshing.

    Are you into cani x by any chance ? 

  • Fido2DogsFido2Dogs ✭✭✭
    Given the current 2dogs are
    a) 13 year old greyhound slow enough to be let off the lead which is v slow indeed
    b) 8 year old greyhound with a dodgy shoulder, corns and no brains...
    no...
    They would deeply resent it image
  • Beetle wrote (see)

    Fido, how refreshing.

    Are you into cani x by any chance ? 

    So basically what you wanted to hear was "yes he should be able to run a marathon at 16"???

    Well..... sorry - there are valid reasons already stated why he shouldn't.

    He's not even old enough to drink alcohol or smoke for another two years either. And he can't drive a HGV for at least 5!

    Let him be a kid for a little while longer.

  • LIVERBIRD

    Let me be clear that I am not pushing him in any way.  The hurry is that he is bent on doing it now, and I want to give him the best advice I can.  He is 16 and has just got a job at a running shop staffed by people who are serious runners.  This seems to have given him ideas. 

    In practice it looks like the race organisers will probably take the matter out of my/his hands by not allowing him to participate. 

  • According to their FAQs page, The Manchester Marathon is open to participants 16+, which is the first time I've seen this in a UK marathon, I think?
  • that is a suprise frodo  as i thought it was the national rules regarding the age.............

    16 year boys want to do it all...........my son wants to do a  marathon and an ironman as well as cycle LEJOG and run from north to south wales...................I'm glad to delay all these for a few years when he will get a more balanced idea of why he wants to do them.............image

  • It's only in the FAQs section, Seren, so could be a mistake?
    But it certainly leapt out at me for that reason image
  • In fact, I have just done a dummy entry on their website and made myself 16 (I wish - sigh) and they wouldn't allow me to complete, as you have to be over 18.
    However, there is no way of checking you are telling the truth.
  • same as all the races you can lie about age........But I wouldn't do that as its not fair to organisers for their races to be put in jeopordy because of peoples dishonesty....

    and if The british athletics have decided to put these age limits then they must have discussed it with the health proffessionals first.  In the 80's the limits were lower and i think this  might have caused some problems

     anyway we will enjoy our offroad marathon as a good day outimage.....much more fun and scenic than a road marathon

  • compo 1compo 1 ✭✭✭
    I though you had to be 18 to run a marathon
  • I did Royal Marine basic training and the commando course at 17 years 3 months... that's tougher than a marathon, believe me - it lasted for 32 weeks plus and the longest yomp was 35 miles
  • Fido2DogsFido2Dogs ✭✭✭
    Ben - you should ask on the C.2012 thread - someone might have run off to join the marathon as a teen there and have interesting (or painful) tales to tell image
  • No idea on the physical side of things except it's probably not going to kill him unless he's one of those sorts who grows very tall and lanky all of a sudden.
    On the admin side, the race organisers won't know what you don't tell them, and they can't check unless he's on Power of 10 or UKA or such a website. Thankfully I'm fully adult now, but in the past I've done several races pretending to be 2 or 3 years older than my age, and nobody noticed/cared.
  • when i did my first marathon i was chatting to a lad who was 14 and running it incognito
  • Ben Davies 15 wrote (see)

    LIVERBIRD

    Let me be clear that I am not pushing him in any way.  The hurry is that he is bent on doing it now, and I want to give him the best advice I can.  He is 16 and has just got a job at a running shop staffed by people who are serious runners.  This seems to have given him ideas. 

    In practice it looks like the race organisers will probably take the matter out of my/his hands by not allowing him to participate. 


    Don't get me wrong Ben, I wasn't suggesting you WERE pushing him and I KNOW he is probably doing the pushing! I guess I am speaking as a parent when I say that I don't see the "rush" to grow up and he's got years of marathon experience in front of him.

    I DO know he won't see it like that though. I can remember as a child always wanting to be older and "do stuff" that the rules said I couldn't. I actually STOPPED drinking at 18. It had the fun taken out of it by being legal!

    If he runs anyway and lies about his age he certainly won't be covered under the insurance of the RO and his parents could be in trouble for letting him do it if anything goes wrong because he's a minor. 16 is not adult, however much he wants it to be! image

  • BeetleBeetle ✭✭✭
    LIVERBIRD wrote (see)
    So basically what you wanted to hear was "yes he should be able to run a marathon at 16"???

    Well..... sorry - there are valid reasons already stated why he shouldn't.

    He's not even old enough to drink alcohol or smoke for another two years either. And he can't drive a HGV for at least 5!

    Let him be a kid for a little while longer.

    Very interesting debate.

    Why do we do consistently under-estimate and over-protect our youngsters ?

    He`s not a `kid` and doesn`t need to be treated like one. He`s a young man/teenager. No-one would dispute that teenagers need guidance (I have 3 of the b*ggers) but that should not, in my opinion, involve treating them like `kids`.

    From what I can tell he`s rational, intelligent, enthusiastic - and rather fit. He should be encouraged - not held back and treated like a 9 year old. 

    He may not be old enough to smoke/drink but he`s old enough to join the army (or Marines). I suspect that the training he would undergo in the Forces would be rather more rigorous than running  a marathon.

    I`ve never read any proper research indicating that a 16 year old running the odd marathon would suffer irreversible (or even significant) injury. If you know of any, I would be very interested to have a look at it.

  • BeetleBeetle ✭✭✭
    Fido2Dogs wrote (see
    Given the current 2dogs are a) 13 year old greyhound slow enough to be let off the lead which is v slow indeed b) 8 year old greyhound with a dodgy shoulder, corns and no brains... no... They would deeply resent it image

    I can see that they might !

    I only came across the sport a couple of years ago when we were in the Alps. Looked great fun. I couldn`t work out whether the dogs were a help or a hindrance. 

    What really struck me was how much the dogs appeared to enjoy it (even the under-age ones image). It seems to be a much bigger thing in Europe than over here.

  • BeetleBeetle ✭✭✭
    Corinthian wrote (see)
    I did Royal Marine basic training and the commando course at 17 years 3 months... that's tougher than a marathon, believe me - it lasted for 32 weeks plus and the longest yomp was 35 miles

    I bet that was pretty brutal.

    Mind you, one of colleagues at work is former  Royal Ballet, ballet dancer. She buzzed off to White Lodge when she was young, (10 I think). The physical regimen they were put through sounds eye watering.

  • Beetle

    I was talking to some canicrossers who had taken part in the European Championships in Poland, and they said that the dogs do indeed provide a significant mechanical advantage. 

  • I am eighteen, but started running when I was 13, primarily  with the intention of running a marathon. I underestimated the scale of the challenge. The physical challenge of a marathon is not beyond that of a 16 year old, but should not be sniffed at. Running 12mi in 90 minutes is fine - but at what effort level? Did he run flat out or at a 70% effort? If it is the former, then perhaps he should reassess his ambitions and focus upon shorter distances such as a 10k. Then, when he has a PB of, say, 38minutes he can step up the distance. Aerobic development at 16 sometimes is not as advanced as is needed for a good marathon without a foundation in shorter events. Use shorter events as an "apprenticeship" style system - if he proves himself, then move up to the marathon.

    BTW, anyone can complete a marathon, but it takes a great deal of fitness to race it. You may read advice from "experts" who suggest that anyone under18 is uncapable of marathoning. Forget it! Everybody is different. Take him out for a long, very slow 15 miler. If he enjoys the experience, he is ready for beginning a marathon training programme. Marathon running must be a passion for one to excel.

  • BeetleBeetle ✭✭✭
    DC 1 wrote (see

    "I am eighteen, but started running when I was 13, primarily  with the intention of running a marathon. I underestimated the scale of the challenge. The physical challenge of a marathon is not beyond that of a 16 year old, but should not be sniffed at. Running 12mi in 90 minutes is fine - but at what effort level? Did he run flat out or at a 70% effort? If it is the former, then perhaps he should reassess his ambitions and focus upon shorter distances such as a 10k. Then, when he has a PB of, say, 38minutes he can step up the distance. Aerobic development at 16 sometimes is not as advanced as is needed for a good marathon without a foundation in shorter events. Use shorter events as an "apprenticeship" style system - if he proves himself, then move up to the marathon.

    BTW, anyone can complete a marathon, but it takes a great deal of fitness to race it. You may read advice from "experts" who suggest that anyone under18 is uncapable of marathoning. Forget it! Everybody is different. Take him out for a long, very slow 15 miler. If he enjoys the experience, he is ready for beginning a marathon training programme. Marathon running must be a passion for one to excel."

    Couldn`t agree more. I think that`s a really good piece of advice.

  • Beetle wrote (see)

    He`s not a `kid` and doesn`t need to be treated like one. He`s a young man/teenager. No-one would dispute that teenagers need guidance (I have 3 of the b*ggers) but that should not, in my opinion, involve treating them like `kids`.

    Yes he IS!!! He is a 16 year old child. He's certainly a teenager I grant you, but he is NOT a man. He's not even a YOUNG man. He's a child. He's in adolescence and he's approaching adulthood but he's not there yet. Another reason we shouldn't send our children to war.

    That doesn't mean that you need to treat him like he's 5 either. But let's not try to pretend that there is a 16 year old on earth that you could confidently refer to as a "young man"

    DC - your advice is good and you sound extremely sensible. Now don't go blowing my assertions about young people not being grown ups will you?

  • BeetleBeetle ✭✭✭

    Although people often assert heavy training in youth (or `childhood` if you prefer) or whilst the child is growing causes damage, the evidence appears to be rather more equivocal.

    According Noakes (`Lore of Running`), 4th Ed, 2003, p.351) :

    "It is important to stress, however, that there is no evidence for any negative physiological effects of intensive training by itself in the pre-pubertal period (Baxter-Jones 1995; Damsgaard et al 2000; Sundaresan et al 2000)."

    And at p.351

    "The concept that children drop out of intensely competitive sport because they were not physically is false. There is no evidence that either children or adults can train themselves to the point where they suffer lasting physical impairment. Certainly, they can overtraining acutely, but the physical but not from overtraining blasts at most, 6 weeks."

    Noakes makes the point that overtraining can lead to mental stagnation (and therefore drop-out).

    Do you know if things have moved on Liverbird ?

  • BeetleBeetle ✭✭✭
    LIVERBIRD wrote (see)
    Beetle wrote (see)

    He`s not a `kid` and doesn`t need to be treated like one. He`s a young man/teenager. No-one would dispute that teenagers need guidance (I have 3 of the b*ggers) but that should not, in my opinion, involve treating them like `kids`.

    Yes he IS!!! He is a 16 year old child. He's certainly a teenager I grant you, but he is NOT a man. He's not even a YOUNG man. He's a child. He's in adolescence and he's approaching adulthood but he's not there yet. Another reason we shouldn't send our children to war.

    That doesn't mean that you need to treat him like he's 5 either. But let's not try to pretend that there is a 16 year old on earth that you could confidently refer to as a "young man"

    Er...I`m not pretending anything. I would refer to most 16 year old males as `young men` because that is precisely what they are.

    Which isn`t to say that they are completely mature. Obviously they are not. Many (if not most) continue to require parental  - and societal - guidance but, like it or not, they are young men.

    `Children` do not magically transform into `adults` on the stroke of midnight on their 18th birthday. Growing up, and indeed any form of maturation, is a gradual and cumulative process (physically, psychologcally and socially). 

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