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Training a 12 year old

Old 10-10-23, 11:52 AM
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Training a 12 year old

My son would like to train with me this winter - I spent the summer helping him build endurance, now he wants to train for speed/power.

I know nothing about youth racing/capabilities of the athletes - he seems to me fairly gifted (but I'm a biased dad).
-He's currently 4'8 and 82#'s - has not hit his growth spurt yet.
-Has the potential to remain a smaller/slim build body.
-Has a 450w+ sprint at his weight
-Can solo sprint up to 27 mph and hang on to the pack up to 30+
-Climbs mountains right next to me
-Just did his first century at close to 18 mph, and we could have done 20 but waited for team members (charity ride)

I don't know if that's something normal kids can typically do - some racers at the century showed some interest in his capabilities - we all paced the last 8 miles at 24-26+ - and he was at conversation pace, talking with a few crit racers about their bikes as we rode.

Nor do I know what training would be over the top for a kid.
-Can he do intervals with me over the winter?
-Can he do more because of his age?
-Or should he be on a reduced program?
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Old 10-10-23, 12:51 PM
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Regardless of what you decide to do for the immediate period of time. If he shows interest and potential, consider getting him with a coach and leave you out of the equation other than footing the bill. That way you can stay on the proper father/son relationship. Or get him the means to self coach himself and just help support his questions and efforts toward that.
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Old 10-11-23, 05:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01
Regardless of what you decide to do for the immediate period of time. If he shows interest and potential, consider getting him with a coach and leave you out of the equation other than footing the bill. That way you can stay on the proper father/son relationship. Or get him the means to self coach himself and just help support his questions and efforts toward that.
I'm looking at coaches... not sure that is what he wants.

He likes to ride with me, he likes to train with me - that is part of our proper father/son relationship. We ride road, gravel, mountain bikes together - it's what we like to do.

He wants to "train" with me over the winter - I'm just asking if anyone has advice on what is too much for his age.
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Old 10-11-23, 07:35 AM
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At 12 years old, if he's been active to very active, I think you can do most all the type of training you do. Volume of riding IMO, still is best over anything thing else. Intervals will help keep one at the max they can be for the quantity of riding they are doing.

Just don't be that Dad that doesn't realize when time off is needed, or when they don't appreciate your wealth of knowledge because other teenage things start to take over control.
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Old 10-11-23, 08:27 AM
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I can't give any specific recommendations, because I've never had to train a young person. However, I can confidently say I know what I would start with and that is training of connective tissues. I very much wish I could start all over, because I would concentrate on training this part of my body, which is why so many athletes, both professional and amateur are sidelined.

Every time I've had an injury or known of someone that injured themselves it almost always involved connective tissue. When I hiked the Appalachian Trail, it was the downhills that sent most people home with knee/ankle/hip injuries. Contrary to popular belief, it's NOT the uphills that are the hardest in hiking thru the mountains. They are tougher on a cardio level, but the downhills destroy connective tissues -- cardio is incredibly easy to build in comparison.

The problem is, with our strength training, which focuses so much on muscle strength, but ignores connective tissues.


This lady talks about that fact in the video, especially at the 3:40-minute point in the video. These traditional strength exercises are good, I'm not bashing them and I still do them; however, when we ignore the health of our connective tissues, we're setting ourselves up for injury.






There are a lot of good videos on YouTube, but one of the really good ones is from this guy who suffered much of his life with joint pain.


https://www.youtube.com/@TheKneesovertoesguy
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Old 10-11-23, 08:55 AM
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Tricky age. He is in a grey zone between definitely too young too train like an adult and definitely old enough, IMO. At 12, a lot depends on the child. It sounds like you must be doing something right, so far. I am trying to hold my 8 (almost 9) year old back from "training" and luckily he wants to ski race this winter so there is a natural break.

I would be cautious about too much time hunched over on a trainer while still growing, but this is nowhere near my field of expertise. Even if you dont hire a coach, I would guess most would offer some free advice in this regard in the event that you decide to go that route in the future. Many of the ones I am aware of, particularly those who work in youth racing, started young themselves
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Old 10-11-23, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Jughed
I'm looking at coaches... not sure that is what he wants.

He likes to ride with me, he likes to train with me - that is part of our proper father/son relationship. We ride road, gravel, mountain bikes together - it's what we like to do.

He wants to "train" with me over the winter - I'm just asking if anyone has advice on what is too much for his age.
Again, I have no experience with training kids; however, I have heard some say that kids shouldn't be trained until a certain age, usually in their mid-teens. I disagree with this idea, but I fully agree that it is extremely important to NOT over-train them and to make sure their growing bodies get good nutrition and a lot of sleep.

I think that's another good reason to start out with training of the connective tissues, because it's difficult to over-train them in these type of exercises, unlike weight training.

As for cardio, just look at the Kenyans, they are some of the best runners in the world and they all started very young, not by training, per se, but rather running by necessity, to things like school, shopping, fetching water...

And the one guy that can keep up with them on the track started running at the age of six. Jakob Ingebrigtsen, if you haven't heard of him, he is a phenom in the track world and he is very young, so we have yet to see his full potential.


Very interesting video that talks about when he started training at age 6, as well as other aspects of his training.


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Old 10-11-23, 10:15 AM
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It appears this youngster has done some serious training. This kid is 13 (race age 14), and he destroyed the US Nationals crit race.

Check out the power levels. Off the chart.

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Old 10-11-23, 11:21 AM
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Thanks for all the advice/info...

Rest - he gets plenty. He rests when I do and when school stuff is scheduled. Right now we are both taking a week off after our century ride and the spring/summers worth of miles. He only rides about 1/3 of the road miles with me, the rest of the time he's knocking around the neighborhood on his mountain or BMX bike - so far, I don't think we are over doing it.

For a start I will ease him into intervals once a week and see how he responds. I only do two weeks on, one week off - so it shouldn't be too much of a workload for him.

And we will look for a local coach & start some conversations.
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Old 10-14-23, 07:59 AM
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My focus would be on training him to develop self-discipline, self-control, and accountability. He needs to set schedules and goals for himself and learn to deny himself some pleasures to accomplish goals. Most of all I would make sure his rides were more fun than work.
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