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Young Distance Runners

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  • Young Distance Runners

    Do girls mature faster then boys in distance running.........Are many girls good when they are younger then never improve???? I coach a freshmen girl who is 15.

    She runs the 1600 in 5:08.11 and the 800 in 2:17.78.......will this be her best season?

  • #2
    Re: Young Distance Runners

    >She runs the 1600 in 5:08.11 and the 800 in 2:17.78.......will this
    >be her best season?

    You're kidding, right? Someone is supposed to definitively tell you what your athlete will run without knowing what training she's done, what racing she's done, what further training plans you have for her, what injuries she's had, and what further racing plans there are?

    I would hope a decent high school coach could take a look at their athlete and their season progression and make a much better judgement call as to what is in store down the road than the usual suspects of internet pontificators.

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    • #3
      Re: Young Distance Runners

      well i was looking to see if someone else has had a simliar experience with girls being good when they are younger...because i know many in my area of track

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      • #4
        Re: Young Distance Runners

        The main problem which I have seen with these girls is the fact that they add body fat as they mature and lose that wonderful body mass/heart volume ratio which they had as early teens. A secondary problem is interest in other activities (especially boys) besides athletics, which as we all know can be all consuming. Some of the girls simply burn out from all of the training and competitive pressures.

        Adolescence is a difficult time and attempting to be a finely tuned athlete is often in direct conflict with these issues.

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        • #5
          Re: Young Distance Runners

          >Do girls mature faster then boys in distance running.........Are many girls
          >good when they are younger then never improve???? I coach a freshmen girl who
          >is 15.

          She runs the 1600 in 5:08.11 and the 800 in 2:17.78.......will this
          >be her best season?


          There are no absolutes, and trends/statistics mean nothing. Talent is important and it sounds like she has some. But her mental attitude and dedication mean more. If she is determined to improve and willingly puts in the work despite setbacks then, in my exprience, she will get better.

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          • #6
            Re: Young Distance Runners

            The onset of puberty often changes things for girls. Sometimes this negatively affects their running. SOME girl's shapes change dramatically at this time, hips widen, breasts develop and bodyfat increases. The amount of change varies depending on the individual's genetic makeup.

            I have seen girls who are phenomenal athletes prepuberty never improve as they mature. Of course, many others become better as they get older. As with all athletes, men and women alike, genetics plays a tremendous role.

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            • #7
              Re: Young Distance Runners

              What I've observed about young female athletes is that they don't necessarily progress in a typical way. Some common scenerios are that they reach their best ever by age 15 or 16. They may suddenly hit a wall and then downward spiral from there. While men tend to gain strength and endurance with age and increased training. Women are all over the map. This is the main reason I'm a bit cautious about people saying "if she's this fast now imagine her times a year from now or two years from now"(ycn does this). As some other posters mentioned years and type of training are issues as well as social factors. As well, it's possible that a girl could be 16 and have five solid years of training under her belt. She may look great compared to other 16 year olds or even girls much older but then you have to ask what you're really seeing. Just something to be aware of when working with young female athletes.

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              • #8
                Re: Young Distance Runners

                It's clear that there are no absolutes here...but it's interesting to see how many freshman and 8th grade girls make each year's HS lists (particularly in distance events)--a far, far greater percentage than of boys of the same age.

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                • #9
                  Re: Young Distance Runners

                  Females put on FAT as they advance into their late teens.... plain and simple!!

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                  • #10
                    Re: Young Distance Runners

                    Brian Gates from which city? Do you have a sister who is three years older?

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                    • #11
                      Re: Young Distance Runners

                      Natasha, while you are correct that I do project potential based upon current performance, I do that based upon whether or not I feel the athlete has the psychological and physical makeup to improve steadily over time. I don't think I would project that way for any youth at the age of 15, male or female, unless I'd actually seen them in person.

                      I once saw a girl at a youth meet who when I saw her run, immediately struck me as possibly having the greatest natural running form I'd ever seen. Her strides were effortless and flawless. I thought immediately that she could someday be one of the great runners.

                      She was runnning indoors, and anchoring a relay where her leg was once around the 200 meter (220 yard?) track. When she got the baton she was more than half a turn behind every other runner, but by the finish line she was within three strides of the winner.

                      This girl apparently just never had any kind of enthusiasm for running, and I don't think she ran after that season. I later saw her at the age of sixteen, and she was long and lanky, approaching six feet tall. I felt really sad when I saw her, because her body type was of the prototypical top middle distance runner.

                      She never realized how good she could have been, and thus never got the fire. When I think of people who can improve, I think first of those who love to run and who build their life around the goal of being the best that they can be.

                      When I see a Jessica Eldridge I see that type of person. Only time will prove me right or wrong, but I have a hunch that in this case I'm more likely to be right.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Young Distance Runners

                        Originally posted by ycn
                        When I think of people who can improve, I think first of those who love to run and who build their life around the goal of being the best that they can be.

                        When I see a Jessica Eldridge I see that type of person. Only time will prove me right or wrong, but I have a hunch that in this case I'm more likely to be right.
                        Perhaps she got to be the best she could be early in her career. She ran in the 4:18's as a freshman and just completed her collegiate career yesterday with a 4:17.08. It's the fourth time she's been under 4:18, but she still hasn't gone much faster than she did four years ago.

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