Study considers risk of burnout and injury

Too many young athletes risk burnout and injury from running 5km events, according to a study published in The Sport Journal.

Of the 132 successful high school cross country coaches from across the United States who responded to the Youth Running and Road Racing survey, most coaches (75.3%) stated ages 12, 13 or 14 to be the most appropriate for participation in competitive 5km races.

Only 7% thought the distance suitable for 11-year-olds.

In America, there has been a growing trend of younger and younger US runners pursuing and breaking world best times for their age group, reported the study.

It highlighted the fact that between 2013 and 2015 American boys set nine 5km world bests in the single-age categories of 4 to 12, while in 2015 10-year-old Jack Butler set a half-marathon world record for 10-year-old boys and Megan Crum, aged seven, set a new 5km world best for her age.

“The high level of concern by these coaches for both injuries (70%) and burnout (85%) should be a cautionary flag for race organisers, the media and parents who want their children to continue and enjoy competitive running into the future,” concluded the researchers from Nova Southeastern University.

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