Young Runners at the Top: A Book Review

Parents want the best for their kids, pushing them to be their best self. When it comes to competitive sports, however, this mind set can be detrimental causing injury and/or burn-out. "Young Runners At The Top" addresses this problem. This new book by Lize Brittin, Kevin Beck, and Brad Hudson explains how to best train kids in the sport of running starting at a young age. We’ve broken down the book to give you a taste of the great information contained within its covers.

Chapter 1: Youth Running in the United States and Abroad. This chapter gives the reader perspectives from Kenya to New Zealand on how different cultures approach youth running. Across the world, we see a broad spectrum from having fun to winning. Which country do you think places the most pressure on young runners to win?

Chapter 2: Body Basics. When trying to develop a young athlete, how do you approach training during the vast stages of development kids experience? This chapter addresses how kids grow as well as how to train them taking advantage of their strengths at each developmental stage. The chapter ends with sample drills and training plans for kids at different stages from 5 years old to seventeen years old.  

Chapter 3: Gearing Up. Shoes, clothes, training technology, and recovery. Gearing Up looks at how to pick the best tools to facilitate a young athlete’s developmental journey.

Chapter 4: Running in the Family. As mentioned above, it is easy for parents to go overboard when pushing their kids. This chapter focuses on how to be supportive as your child explores running without being overbearing. For the coaches, this chapter is valuable in how to approach the parents of the kids when it comes to their running. The chapter finishes with some fun family games that help develop the aerobic system.  

Chapter 5: Nutrition for Health and Performance. This chapter is very valuable to runners of all ages. Athletes need nutrients and calories, and this chapter gives a brief overview of what we need to be healthy. More importantly, this chapter addresses how to view food in a healthy manner, and how to identify and address eating disorders.

Chapter 6: The Role of a Mentor. This chapter will give you valuable information on how to be the best mentor you can to young athletes. It discusses the mentality of kids, and how to help support that mentality. In addition, it touches on how to pick a good coach for your child.

Chapter 7: The Breakdown Lane. When training, there is always risk of developing an injury. This chapter looks at the common types of injuries in kids, the background of why they develop, and a general treatment plan including cross training and nutrition. Most importantly, the chapter also addresses on how to prevent injuries.

Chapter 8: Cross Training. Cross training is especially important for young athletes as they develop. This chapter discusses how to integrate supplemental activities into training including strength and mobility work.

Chapter 9: Mind Games. Some people argue that the mental preparation is more important than physical preparation. This chapter looks at how to develop a healthy mindset in a young athlete. Goal setting, positive attitude, and mantras are all addressed.

a young brad hudson

a young brad hudson

Chapter 10: The Club Scene. There are many running camps and clubs throughout the country. The chapter discusses the benefits and drawbacks to these programs, as well as when your athlete should be introduced to the programs.

Chapter 11: Decisions. This is a great chapter for coaches. It talks about how to help athletes pick a specialty event, whether speed or strength should be the focus, and how to pick races to foster the athlete’s development.

Chapter 12: Through the Ages. This chapter is all about how to write training that will encourage health and participation as young athletes become older.  

In general, Young Runners at the Top emphasizes having fun throughout all ages. As runners ourselves, we appreciate this approach, and believe that it is extremely important for the future of the sport that kids are excited about running. No matter your age, this book has valuable information that breaks running down to the basics from a support system to supplemental work to running itself and can help you discover what you may be missing in your own training.