What is their (not your) motive?
If you have a child that shows interest in pursuing running, learn more about why they are interested. How old are they? Have they tried sports that involve skill acquisition, retention and compliance? Or encourage social interaction and coordination with others? Or offer physical activity literacy that is fun and engaging - providing positive experiences and memories?
Start experimenting in lots of sports that develop the above characteristics (GENERAL SCOPE). As they improve, show more interest in one or the other they can eliminate sports as they progress through the LTAD model (see below).
Specialization in Running.
Running specialization (one sport) should occur later in an athletes development. (See LTAD below), The average age that Olympians for distance disciplines (800m - Marathon) occurred at the age of 17. It is suggested that they follow the LTAD model as it follows right in line with research and high quality athletic development.
Canada Sport Model: LTAD Stages.
Here is an excellent link for a more detailed description of each stage.
Conclusion: Kevin's Anecdote.
I cannot tell you how many athletes I know that started very young, skipped all the steps of LTAD and quit the sport early. I have known athletes that started at the right time but skipped all the steps of LTAD reached extreme highs, then extreme lows and could not cope. Running should be fun first. Once an athlete LEARNS to love the sport for what it is then he or she can TRAIN TO TRAIN and TRAIN TO COMPETE and TRAIN TO WIN.
If done properly, he or she will develop skills at a rate that will allow for retention and compliance into later life. Too often we have programs with a facade of excellence. When in reality their systems put ego's, legacy and program success over the athletes motives and goals.
In conclusion, when its the right time - do your research. Find the right fit. That is, the right coach with the credentials and the qualifications to prescribe exercise to that population. Most coaches are not accredited with such knowledge and rely on traditional training they may have received as an adult (see above why this is incorrect). At Kin+ we have the theoretical and hands on experience specialize in exercise prescription to a wide range of populations. In fact, we studied under Falk, arguably one of the premier researchers on adolescent exercise physiology. Shes just in our backyard at Brock University. A registered Kinesiologist that specializes in exercise prescription for running just may be the fit your looking for.
Questions and comments are always welcome!
Growth Maturation and Physical Activity - Malina, Bouchard, Bar-Or