High School Girls and Running

Posted by Filed Under: News and Opinion

running shortsA recent Washington Post article explores the special challenges faced by high school girls who run: “In girls’ cross-country,” Post writer Eli Saslow states, “runners are more likely to regress than progress.”

He continues:

College and high school coaches estimate that about 80 percent of female runners will level off, at least temporarily, because of physiological changes. …

Physiological changes during puberty temporarily make running less natural, and rebelling against those changes results in injuries and eating disorders. The ailing athlete then loses confidence and, ultimately, interest in the sport.

There’s no quick fix to this problem. Saslow quotes coaches who say the best advice is to “… do nothing. Fighting maturation is pointless … and it can lead to consequences much more severe than disappointing race results.”

It’s food for thought.

About Jeanne

Cocky, headstrong, and genetically insecure, Jeanne is known by her friends as the Tall One. Whether its running a marathon, or ringing bells in choir, this love-able rapscallion finds ways of landing in all kinds zany, madcap adventures. You can find Jeanne musing about life, running, bell ringing, and other things at her favorite hangout, Not Born to Run. When not regaling her public with tales from the trails, Jeanne works as a Web editor for a national newspaper. She is also a freelance writer. Jeanne lives in the leafy suburb of Bethesda, Md., just outside the Beltway.

  1. Dori on September 29th at 10:28 pm

    I’m sorry, but it sounds like a load of crap. Running causes eating disorders in high school girls? I think the culprit of e.d. is more likely to be television, movies, advertising, bombarding girls with the message that the only attractive girls are ones that are shaped like boys. Rosie O’Donald nailed it a few years ago after the Oscars when she said never had she seen so much chest and so little cleavage. Run, Girls, Run.

  2. 21stCenturyMom on September 30th at 12:41 pm

    That’s sort of like saying “getting boobs makes you hate your body” or something weird like that. I don’t think so. Kids in general go through big changes in puberty.

    Do 80% of girls who play soccer ‘level off’? I don’t think so. So yes that was food for thought and the thought I have is that the article is misinformed and totally full of poop. Just another solid reason why girls don’t like sports – as if. I especially like the ‘don’t do anything advice’. If this were really a problem we would most certainly want to do something to help those girls avoid eating disorders and to keep them healthy. Clearly the person who wrote that has some other agenda.

    OMG- the more I write the more aggravated I get. What consequences is this guy talking about? AARRRGGHHH!!! Enough.

  3. 21stCenturyMom on September 30th at 12:50 pm

    Okay – I read the article and I get it now. It isn’t the sport – it’s the coaches. If gaining weight puts new demands on the body then why not say, “these girls need to put more effort into the sport and augment running with weight training”. You can’t tell me that weight training wouldn’t allow these girls to get their musculature to catch up with their weight.

    The eating disorders are not from running – they are from stupid coaches telling the girls to lose weight.

    So that’s it. All done.