Monday, November 12, 2012

How young is too young?

Wrong kind of too young.
Still can't believe she dumped Justin Beiber :(

First, about ME....  Yes, I am still running a pretty solid 55-60 miles per week, training for the Shiner (Beer!!) Half marathon on Dec 16.  No, I didn’t actually shave a patch of hair off of my leg in my Betty Tri Kit review. Yes, I would have if the picture didn’t turn out right. Yes, now that it is cold I did shave some of the hair around my nipples so that my nipple tape would stop pulling them out.  Now that we have that out of the way.....

A week ago I was in Dallas helping cheer at the DRC half marathon.  (Before the half marathon I ran 15 miles in 7:21  pace just so that I could think “Oh, you’re tired? That’s nice, I ran further” as they went by.  Isn’t that how you cheer?)  It was just like any other half marathon that you’d been a part of before.  A skinny Kenyan was leading at mile 10, I saw two running Elvi who, after me telling them that they looked good said “thank you, thank you very much”, and overall people were pushing it hard.

Not too far into the race (on track for a 1:30 half), the normal fasties were going by: Skinny dude, skinny dude, girl in sports bra, dude, 10 year old girl, skinny dude.... wait, what?  A TEN YEAR OLD GIRL was on track for a 1:30ish half marathon.  Turns out, she was 12, weighed likely 70 pounds, and my grandpa would say was “knee high to a grasshopper” as he trailed off talking about how expensive gas is now a days.

The Welsch Sisters
Not 2 days later, the New York Times ran an article about the girl and her little sister!! The half marathon I saw wasn’t her first rodeo – she had ran a number of race before, like 90 races, and raced them FAST.  A lot of them were trail races, triathlons, etc, but that is a LOT of racing.  So, of course, the question needs to be asked....  Is she too young to be racing that far or that much?  Since I’ve been a parent for a whole 2 years, and am obviously an expert on early pubescent adolescents, why wouldn’t I weigh in!?

So, I’m honestly a bit torn.  Obviously her parents are trying to nurture their gift – because they certainly do have it (1:30 half marathon, 3:45 full marathon).  And you can hopefully assume that the girls do enjoy running.   But, just because they are good at something doesn’t mean that they should eat, sleep and breath it at such a young age.  I have to think that for every Tiger Woods playing golf on Johnny Carson at the age of 3, there are 100 kids who have a golf club slammed into both of their left hands only to consider themselves failures because they didn’t end up having sex with 11 hostesses at Denny’s.

Are this girl’s parents any different than a soccer mom/dad making their kid practice for 90 min every night so they can get on the BETTER club team?  Mmmm, probably not.  But, I would argue that long term running can be a bit harder on your body that some of those other sports.  Little growing bodies need to be protected – I think?  What do YOU think?


32 comments:

Kayla Moothart said...

Let them run - but wait until they are older to have them racing and at such a high level too! So many miles and a ton of races are hard enough on a grown persons body right?

Melissa said...

I read that article and the way I took it was that the father was almost abusive when it came to the girls practicing/training/racing. I'm all for letting them do it if it's something the CHILD wants and has a passion for...hell I'm contemplating lying about my girls ages (they are 5 and 6) to get them into a 5k over Thanksgiving (age cutoff is 8) because they love it. BUT if they didn't love it then I wouldn't bother. The article also said that the girls have been ok'd by doctors to run...if that's true and they are actually getting the medically attention that was implied and it's truly something they want then I'm ok with it. If it's just another father living is high school sports dreams through his children then I think it's wrong.

thekidlesskronicles said...

I read that article in the Times and feel like the Dad is pushing them WAY too hard. Some of the things he says to them are just obnoxious for girls their age. Let them run, sure. But racing every weekend is too much. And saying things like "you quit out there" is ridiculous.

The Kidless Kronicles

Colin Hayes said...

I would have to agree with you. Two running Elvi is two too many. Oh...I mean, a 12-year old running a half (and full) marathon is a bit much—especially at that kind of intensity. 90 races?! Aside from the expense, you're BEGGING for burnout by the time the girl hits high school, if not debilitating injury.
There's always a fine line, when a child has an obvious talent, between nurturing and encouraging that talent, and going overboard. Personally, I'd limit the girl to 10k races until she was in her mid-teens, and only a handful a year. She may think she enjoys running tons of long, fast races, but her parents are setting her up for trouble, IMO.

Jess said...

In Kenya, kids run to and from school, plus some. Their whole lives, they,re running long and hard. And Kenya is not alone as a running as a running culture where kids grow up running. Americans, however, don't look twice at kids sitting all Saturday playing video games, but for a kid to spend Saturday running a marathon, well...

Why not?

Ironmom (Julie) said...

I don't worry at all about them running if they want to run, but I found the father's comments a little scary. One girl can go ahead and quit but the other is "too talented"? And the poor child cries because she's getting passed? How awful.

Book Dragon said...

This doesn't seem to be the same family I read about before (Dad was horrible). The girls are enjoying the races, as long as the parents watch their health I say go for it

Char said...

I didn't realise at first that they'd done a marathon. I was impressed with a half at that age. A marathon is a bit much.

Emily H said...

I knew a girl when I was that age who was big into running, although not such long distances. I remember she would tell us how her dad made her wake up really early each morning to run a few miles and she hated him for it. He was always making her cry by being overly critical.

Parents as coaches = bad idea.

Gracie said...

I read the article and I think Dad is spoiling the natural talent of his girls. I think kids naturally love to run - and do it well - but his attitude is typical soccer dad.

Terri D said...

I'll bet the girls want this to be their life. Hopefully, if that's the case, the parents have sat with them explaining exactly what that means and what standards they have to hold (keeping their grades up and such) in order to continue with the streneous schedule that their activity demands. I hope they're supportive and open to flexibility as best parents are.

Jeff Irvin said...

I've seen these girls at a number of races and tris in the HOU area. They are both fast. A couple of years ago the older girl was crying after a tri. I do not know why she was crying but the father was there and lets just say he isn't winning any parent of the year awards.

Sue's Ramblings said...

Does seem a bit hard on their bodies/skeletal-muscular system but if the girls are enjoying the sport, pain-free, injury-free...basically it's really up to them, not even their parents.

Running In Boise said...

Better them running them having their butt planted on the couch eating cheetos and playing video games.

P1t0 said...

I say let them run. Just not in any race I'm doing. They are way too fast for me :)

There are a lot worse things they can be doing anyways. Good for them.

Run Fast Mama! www.runfastmama.com said...

As a mom who's 7 and 8 year olds did a 10K (walked most of it) there is no way would let them do a half at 10. Way too much strain on a young body and too intense. Let them have fun running around the yard and playing. Plenty of time for such serious training later in life when you get to the age you look silly running around the yard.

Chris said...

Not a parent (needed to say that). But, I see nothing wrong with letting them run, but the distance is what concerns me. I know my grammar school had track and field, but they weren't running 13.1 or 26.2. The distances got progressively longer as we got older, but no where close to those distances. I applaud the parents for letting their girls follow something they love, but I think the longer distances may be a bit much for ANYONE at that age - girls or boys.

And just to throw this out there, would the story be any less shocking if the two children in question were boys? Would the media pick it up? Would we all be upset over it? I mean, it wasn't all that long ago that the medical profession felt women couldn't run because it would harm us. Could this be just an echo of that manifesting itself in our opinion here?

With that said, my main concern is the age of the children in question, not their gender. Boys have the same growth issues as girls in terms of age appropriate sport.

Allie said...

I read that article and the dad seemed to be pushing them, I think they probably enjoy it at times and they are obviously very talented but even if they are the ones wanting to do it doesn't mean that it is the right choice. My kids want to eat ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner but I know that isn't the best idea. They get ice cream for dessert every once in awhile and that seems like a much better idea. I think the same thing goes for these girls, they should race every once in awhile but not all the time.

Allie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Travis Todd said...

Let the girls run, they could be doing worse things.

RunDaddyRunBlog.blogspot.com

SupermomE12 said...

I have a son who just turned 13 that has a lot of running talent. He won the Nike Regionals 3k race in 10:20, and ran a half marathon this summer in 1:33 (with two bathroom breaks). He is in 7th grade so has had one season of cross country and that is it really. He loves to run - he will get up and just announce that he is going for a run and will do 5 miles or 10 depending on the day and how he feels. Our plan for now is to support and encourage him, but no pushing. He has run and won some local 5k's, but there were a few this summer he could have run and he chose to go camping with friends or do other things and we were totally fine with that. We want him to be a kid and we want to nurture his talent and love of the sport all at the same time. It is a total blast to watch him. :)

The Banter said...

If they can beat me in a race, then they should not race. This applies to anyone at any age and gender in any race.

Having said that, I'd hate it if I got beat by a tween girl. But that's really my problem and not theirs. If they want to run, who am I to stop them.

Jessica Grant said...

It seems really young to me. I see a lot of kids in local races, and I can't imagine doing that sort of thing when I was their age (of course, I was never athletically inclined until my 20s, but still). I just wonder what kind of childhood they have. Do they have to train all the time while other kids are out playing kick the can?

Laura said...

The youngest male to run a marathon in all 50 states finished when he was sixteen years old. SIXTEEN. FIFTY MARATHONS. I'm a little less worried about these girls knowing that :)

Jason said...

Wow. That is a dam good point. I was all ready to say way too young, but I'm with you.

Jason said...

I say let them run, but only if it's their choice. If the Dad is pushing them into it, and it sounds like he is, that is not cool. That can lead to all sorts of emotional and physical issues with these young girls down the line.

Brandon Hopkins said...

I'll comment on the first part of this post. Maybe I'll work the packet pickup for that race, since my running store and race team are the ones putting on the race. It'd be cool to meet you.

Kenley said...

Best wishes on the 16th of December. Thats a nice amount of miles in your micro cycles. Too Young to be doing all of that? Maybe, maybe not. I guess they will find out later in life if it was a good choice or not?

Jamoosh said...

Did you know that Shiner Bock is a fake Bock? It's not even in the Bock Beer Category.

B. Jarosz said...

Ages 10 and 12 running that kind of mileage??? I'm at a loss for words...

LifeisaRun said...

Kind of go back and forth on this one. Really couldn't either one of them being apart of track/cross country in school or is the 12yo only one old enough for that? I think the scary eliminate is the dad kind of - the mom seems to be more likely to tell them to not do something if they don't want to, but if she's not around for the race days....

Noel Nelson said...

It is amazing to hear young girls running long mileages. I feel long term running can be a bit harder on their bodies.

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