Road Racing and Youth Running: Cross Country Coaches’ Perspectives

Authors: Peter S. Finley, Jeffrey J. Fountain, Douglas P. Finley

Corresponding Author:
Peter S. Finley
Carl DeSantis Building
3301 College Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, FL, 33314-7796

Peter Finley, Ph.D., and Jeffrey Fountain, Ph.D., are Associate Professors of Sport and Recreation Management at the H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship at Nova Southeastern University.

Douglas Finley, M.S., has served as an agency administrator in park, recreation and resource management for both municipal and state government; as a member of the adjunct faculty at Michigan State University; and as a leader in creating, funding, and coaching fitness programs for youth. Finley is founder and editor of the Center for Children’s Running website and a published author on youth running, including works for the 20,000 U.S. schools Mileage Club initiative and for Running Times/Runner’s World magazine.

Road Racing and Youth Running: Cross Country Coaches’ Perspectives

This study focused on obtaining the thoughts and opinions of high school cross country coaches regarding the role road racing should play in youth running. The participants for this study consisted of 132 successful high school cross country coaches from across the United States responding to an original Youth Running and Road Racing survey. The results of the survey found that there was a high level of concern by a majority of the coaches that youth runners face risk of both injuries and burnout because of the distances they run at young ages along with the current environment that focuses too much on competition and not enough on fun and enjoyment of running. Therefore, coaches need to be brought into the conversation with race organizers, the media that covers running, and parents to help modify youth road races so that they can ensure the health and safety of future runners.