Yeah, but is it safe?

That’s Kaytlynn Welsch, age 12, center, and her little sister Heather, who is 10, just before they ran a half marathon in Utah last year.

Some people wonder how safe it is for kids to run that kind of distance.

Sometimes I even wonder if it’s safe for me!


A couple of years ago, while running a 100-mile race, I asked the following question of an on-site medic: “Is it healthy, running 100 miles at a stretch?”

It was 3 a.m. and the Doctor had been patching up battered runners for the better part of 24 hours.  “On the whole, I would have to say NO,” she said, looking at me over the waxy light of a Coleman lantern.

It had been a tough race.  The thermometer had risen to thirty degrees, and a bunch of runners had been evacuated to the local hospital with heat-related illness.  I’d been lucky.  I had some blisters, a nasty cut on my knee from a fall, and a strange rash I never really figured out (lyme disease?).  But that was all.

“Seriously?” I said.  “You think running long distances is unsafe?”

“For some people,” said the Doctor. “Absolutely.”

* * *

Distance running is not risk-free.  But the same can be said of virtually any activity worth doing. Playing hockey can be risky.  Same thing with riding a bicycle.  And as much as we try to convince ourselves otherwise, strapping fiberglass boards to our feet and launching ourselves down icy mountain slopes may not be the safest thing in the world.

And yet we still do it.  Because it’s FUN.

The trick is to use our common sense.  Check out what the Dad in this story says about the importance of getting checked out by a doctor.

As long as you’ve trained properly, and understand the importance of proper nutrition and hydration, and have the approval of your family doctor, and the support of friends and family members, and most important, if you really want to be out there, then why not run?  After all, there’s not much difference between running a marathon in 5 hours, and spending an afternoon playing soccer or Capture The Flag with your friends.

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