Young athlete’s career

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This topic contains 5 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Mark 11 years, 10 months ago.

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  • #5652

    Mark
    Member

    My son is a freshmen in high school and this is his first year in cross country. At this present time he loves running. His coach says that he has talent and potentially a promising career in distance running. At his next race he will be running varsity for the first time. He has worked very hard to earn his place on the varsity team.

    My questions for all of you are these:
    What would you do to help guide this young mans career?
    What are the most important things I, as a father, can do?
    What should he do after the cross country season is over, should he run track or just continue to train?

    I do not want to be like some I have seen and push him to the point of hating the sport, but at the same time help him to succeed. Although I love to run I was never involved in running in any formal way. Most of what I have learned about running is from this forum and running magazines. I am looking for basic things, suggestion or resources to read. I will be discussing this with his coach, but want to have some basis of information prior to that time.

    Thank you for your help.

    Mark

  • #21802

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    First, it's great that he likes running and is good at it. You must be a very proud dad.

    What would you do to help guide this young mans career?

    I would suggest not doing much as a parent beyond supporting his running and encouraging him to take it as far as he wants without pushing him to take it farther than he wants. There's a real danger of pushing him farther than he wants to go and turning him off. I would suggest encouraging him to learn about running but not forcing books, videos, websites, etc. upon him. Let him know these resources are there if he wants to use them and then let him decide whether he wants to use them.

    Also, be a good role model but, again, be careful to not push him. If he wants to go for a run with you, great, but don't push him to run with you if he doesn't want to. If he wants to watch a running video with you, again great, but don't force it upon him.

    What are the most important things I, as a father, can do?

    Be there for him as much as possible. Show interest without being overbearing. Go to his races and cheer but don't coach (he already has a coach). Be a good role model with your own running. Make sure he is listening to his coach and is following his coach's advice. Sometimes, athletes with parents who are also in the sport think their parents know more than their coaches. This may or may not be true but, as long as your son has a coach, he's best served by listening to and not questioning his coach's wisdom.

    If you feel like your son's coach is not very good, which does not sound like it is the case for you, don't go behind the coach's back. Either get your son away from the coach or let the coach do his or her job. If you would get your son away from the coach, consider finding another coach and not doing the coaching yourself. With notable exceptions such as the Coe family, parents coaching their own children usually don't do as good of a job as they think they can.

    What should he do after the cross country season is over, should he run track or just continue to train?

    He should decide what he wants to do but I definitely think doing track would be the best alternative. You ask if he should “run track or just continue to train” as if these things are mutually exclusive. Doing track is continuing the training while furthering his development as a runner in ways just training can't. Track is a crucial part of the development of a runner. I think it's a serious mistake for any distance runner to participate in one sport and not the other if they want to be the best runner they can be. Each one will improve your abilities in the other.

    I also saw that you mentioned talking with the coach. I think this is a great thing. Keep the lines of communication open. I may have more thoughts later as I re-read this topic and my reply but I'll leave it at this for now.

  • #21803

    Mark
    Member

    Thanks Ryan. I am a very proud dad.

    As for what I have been doing. I am at every meet that I can be at. When he asks me questions, I tell him to ask his coach. He does like to run with me, but I have never made him run. He is not much into reading at this age, but if he wants to, I would buy him any tool that would help.
    Are there any training videos that you would recommend?
    As for track, he wants to run, so run he will.
    I think his coach is very good. I never undermine his authority as a coach.
    Looking forward to hearing any more thoughts

    Mark

  • #21804

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Mark, to me it sounds like you are doing all the right things. As for videos, I was thinking more of race coverage or movies. I'm not aware of any videos on training. I doubt distance running technique is complex enough to make videos worthwhile.

    I know there are at least a couple of parents out there with running kids. I was hoping they would weigh in with the perspective from the parents. I can only offer the perspectives of the running kid with non-running but very supportive parents and of the outsider looking in. Hopefully, you'll get some comments from the parents, also. They have been through the experience and could offer some good insight.

  • #21805

    Peter
    Member

    Have two kids, one's a sophmore who's into soccer, and will use track to 'get in shape' for the upcoming soccer season. I have told him what I think he ought to do to be a better track runner and what would benefit him for soccer, and he does seem to listen. His H.S. has almost no coaching for the track distance runners, and he thinks I ought to coach the runners (unfortunately, my schedule won't allow it). He's going to try and get a base of aerobic conditioning in between now and track, then do whatever the 400-800m runners do for track to work on his speed and strength for soccer, and then go back to aerobic conditioning next summer before soccer starts in August.

    My daughter is an 8th grader, and has the potential to be an excellent distance runner. The Cross Country coach for her high school is the track distance coach for her middle school. She ran 6:07 for 1600m as a 12 year old on little or no training. She likes and respects this coach, and feels like she'd rather do what he says than what 'Dad' says. So I talked to the coach and he wants her to try and run 3-4 days a week for 4-6 weeks leading up to track, which starts in April. Then in the summer, the CC teams have a summer running program that is open to the whole community (to get around WIAA rules). There are groups that get together 3 mornings or 3 afternnons a week M-F. I'm planning on both kids running M,W and F am, and Thurs pm with the running club (and not dad), and then having them run once on the weekend with me. Again, nice and easy workouts, nothing more than 5-6 miles. So far, my daughter likes the running, and does not think it to be a chore, so I want to keep it that way for a while. The only concern I have is if she gets really good and then gets little or no coaching during the H.S. track season. Guess we'll just have to wait and see if that happens.

    If I were advising your son, I'd check with what the coach suggests for the off season between CC and track, but if he were to run 4-5 days a week to start, 4-5 miles a day, that'd be great. Then gradually increase to the point where in Feb-March he'd running 5-6 days a week, 5-6 miles a day. But if he likes to run and enjoys running with you, that's so great! Good luck to him in the upcoming seasons!

  • #21806

    Mark
    Member

    Thanks Peter.
    My son is currently running 6 days per week from 3 to 6 miles per day and he wants to start running doubles, but his coach wants him to wait until he has more time on his feet and after the season ends. He has only been running on a regular bases for about 6 months. They are currently in the middle of the season for CC here (it ends the second week of Nov unless they go to state, then it ends Thanksgiving weekend). I am not sure when track will start yet.

    He does like to run with me, which I love, especially now that he can easily beat me everytime we run.

    I am looking forward to seeing how he does today in his first varsity race.

    Mark

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