With all of this young middle distance running talent, it is our goal to nurture these athletes to reach their potential long term. We understand this is a fine balancing act, with the kids busy schedules.
The Australasian College of Sports and Exercise Physicians are releasing guidelines for the maximum volume of training adolescents should be performing. This will include at least 6 weeks off structured training per year and at least 1 to 2 days total rest per week.
Professor Gary Browne of Sydney Children Hospital’s Institute of Sports Medicine said he is seeing more ‘Adult-type’ injuries. He believes this is due to many kids specialising in sports from a young age and doing the same activities each day. Physiotherapist Chris Hickey has seen children as young as 8 years old presenting with overuse injuries, resulting in partial knee reconstructions and damage to growing bones.
A middle distance runner’s career (if they remain healthy) is around 8 to 10 years. If intense training is started too early they will never reach their maximum potential, and most likely ‘burn out’ and/or lose interest. Very few Olympians were the best when they were young teenagers. This is due to a number of factors, but one of the main contributors believed to be as a result of them burning out from overtraining while their bodies are still growing.
Add this level of activity to the ‘modern lifestyle’ of a lot of sitting, processed foods and stress amongst other issues and we have our work cut out for ourselves.
Here are my recommendations to help guide our kids to longevity and success in Athletics and whichever sport they choose:
- Adequate REST! Guidelines above. Managing weekly schedules to allow enough time for joints and muscles to recover.
- Not specialising in any sport too early. Keeping variety in our children’s activities to keep them fresh and enjoying exercise.
- Prioritising warm ups and recovery. Warm ups are important to ensure the body is ready to exercise and reduce the risk of injury. Every child attending MLA will do a warm up every week and should know them off by heart by now.
Recovery becomes more and more essential as we get older but it is a good idea to develop these habits early. This includes stretching, cool down jogs, swimming and massage.
- A healthy diet, adequate hydration and enough sleep…
Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions or further information.
Tom Giles – MLA Head Coach