Q: I'm 12 years old and I run about an 8:30-9:00 minute mile. Is this an ok time? Should I work on getting faster before I compete? - A., 11/20/04

A: Your time is good. Just be careful on how you go about getting faster at your young age. You need to find someone knowledgeable about youth running and I'd suggest starting with your P.E. teacher. If they don't have a running background or are experienced as a running coach at the middle school level, they probably could connect you locally to someone who does. Here's advise that Jeff Galloway says about 11-12 year olds in his book (Galloway's Book On Running (First Edition): "Avoid intense interval work and high mileage. Running in local races could be based on practicing three times per week." Galloway also cautions parents to monitor their kids middle school running programs for good reasons. Listen to your coaches and parents. While I know nothing about your physical health, I do know one thing: You are still growing. Neither Galloway nor I are qualified to talk about the physiological implications that distance running can do in this context to joints, bones or vital parts of a growing body. He was an Olympian and started running a year later than you. There are good reasons why physicals are required to participate in sports for kids. I would advise you to get one first and take it from there.

Now, having said all of that, I believe you have potential as a runner. Congratulations on discovering this at such an early age. I wish I had.

Good luck.

The Rage

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10kTruth.com is a place for runners who have the attitude to train harder and smarter, who want to race faster and stronger, to better their race times and lower the chance of injury. The Rage and Manciata answer running and training questions with their own unique insight and spew. You'll also find running advice and inspirational quotes by sports legends and others who epitomize the spirit of 10k Truth.