Running injuries are key topics of concern when it comes to preparing for a marathon. The joint injured most frequently is the knee and that is true for both genders. Other injuries include iliotibial band friction syndrome, plantar fasciitis, and Achilles tendonitis. Such injuries usually occur because either the runner increased his or her running mileage too suddenly or because the runner had a prior imbalance or injury that was not properly addressed.
Research seems to indicate that more experienced runners deal with fewer injuries because they are better at listening to their bodies in terms of increasing their running mileage and/or time needed to adequately recover. The most important thing to remember with regard to injury prevention is that each person should know his or her limits. This is especially critical when it comes to children. Children may not be fully aware of their limitations and may be more likely to suffer from the negative consequences of training too hard and/or too fast. Guardians and coaches need to be especially careful when having a child increase his or her running mileage. This needs to be done slowly and gradually to help prevent injury. Adequate rest and nutrition are just as important for injury prevention, recovery, and dealing with burnout in children.
Children have multiple opportunities to participate in sports programs and other forms of physical activity and they are taking advantage of those opportunities at younger and younger ages. Some children are even specializing in one sport before the age of 8. There does seem to be a correlation between the amount of time devoted to a single sport and burnout. Certainly, if a children is training for a marathon, he or she will probably be at an elevated risk of developing burnout due to the time-consuming nature of the training. The chances of suffering from an overuse injury are also greater in children than in adults.
Children and adolescents still have growing bodies and may be at greater risk for bone and tendon injuries if they choose to devote extended amounts of time to a single sport or event. It is recommended that children not be allowed to train for a single sport every single day; that they engage in cross-training to avoid injury and burnout; that they take frequent recovery days; and that they not specialize in a single sport until high school.
Brenner, J.S. (2007). Overuse Injuries, Over-training, and Burnout in Child and Adolescent Athletes. Pediatrics, 119 (6), 1242-1245.
Fredericson, M., & Misra, A.K. (2007). Epidemiology and Aetiology of Marathon Running Injuries. Sports Med, 37 (4-5), 437-439.