Book Review – The Youth and Teen Running Encyclopedia: A Complete Guide for Middle and Long Distance Runners Ages 8 to 16

One of the reasons that I created the blog in the summer of 2010 is to share and exchange information about distance running for youths and teens. I could not find much quality information to help me coach my two sons – ages 8 and 14 at the time.

I am thrilled to report that has changed with the publication of ”The Youth and Teen Running Encyclopedia: A Complete Guide for Middle and Distance Runners Ages 6-18” by Mick Grant and John Molvar (Kindle edition for IPad or PC available from Amazon).

Mick Grant and John Molvar published this fabulous youth and teen running guide in November 2012, closing a gap that existed for young runners, coaches and parents who are interested in a goal-oriented, long-term developmental approach to running that emphasizes fun first (Mick Grant’s Twitter name is appropriately @FunFirstCoach).

As a former Division 1 college cross country and track & field athlete, and having coached my two sons for the past 10 years, I highly recommend Grant’s and Molvar’s body of work as the best youth and teen running guide available.

This should be the FIRST guide for youth and teen athletes, coaches and parents because it is:

  • Authored by two coaches who are experts and have coached dozens of middle school and high school state, regional and national champions (many of whom successfully continued in college) and – important! – are also parents of runners and understand what works and doesn’t work for young runners.
  • Based on a fun first approach, if it’s fun, young runners will be motivated to work hard, if it’s not, they will move on to something else. Not to be confused with fooling around.
  • Goal-oriented, long-term developmental approach that stresses progressive, consistent training and injury prevention (in my experience, best chance for long-term success). This is not an approach that focuses on quick, short-term results (which could increase risk of injuries and mental burnout).
  • Comprehensive training and racing framework with rich, detailed and logical sections that includes both principles and practical applications, and illustrates them with real sample workouts used by athletes coached by Grant and Molvar.
  • Inclusive of important topics for youth and teen runners sometimes omitted or abbreviated in other guides, e.g. setting goals and achieving improvement, benefit of endurance training and “putting money in the bank”, importance of injury prevention, dangers of too much racing and mental burnout, heart rate to measure training intensity, differences between male and female teen runners, strength training, sleep and nutrition, and use of training logs.

Everything in ”The Youth and Teen Running Encyclopedia: A Complete Guide for Middle and Distance Runners Ages 6-18” has been field tested and with impressive results. Yes, the authors have tested their approach and coaching advice on their own children, and not only have the children survived, but have achieved enjoyment and outstanding success as distance runners.

The icing on the cake is the wrap-up that re-emphasizes the key points of the guide and includes a progressive outline of John Molvar’s training of his two sons and their achievements, including changes Molvar made from year to year and the resulting impact (and tying Molvar’s training to specific sections of the guide – just in case the reader has any doubts that it works). Maybe this section belongs in front of the guide to demonstrate what success looks like, with the approach and coaching advice to follow.

For me, the guide reinforced many of the things that I am already doing as a coach for my two sons, introduced new training that I have adopted since learning from Grant and Molvar, and (I’m not afraid to say it) changed some things that I was doing that may not have the intended benefit.

If I haven’t convinced you yet to invest in this invaluable youth and teen running guide, I will mention that for the $4.99 cost to download the Kindle edition from Amazon, you have exactly five dollars (and a few reading hours) to lose. Sold!



  1. […] I have witnessed this boom through the lens of a parent/coach of an 11 year old and a 16 year old competitive runner, and a recreational runner myself. First, let me say that this is all good. For teens and youth, greater participation should have many benefits, including improved physical and mental health, better academic achievement, development of leadership and social skills, and so on. For those that have aspirations of running competitively and achieving excellent results, success in the sport requires a sound approach, long-term commitment, and a high work ethic. And often overlooked: having fun and staying healthy. Parents, coaches and runners who want to learn more, I recommend Mick Grant’s book “Youth and Teen Running Encyclopedia: A Complete Guide for Middle and Long Distance Runners Ages 8…. […]

  2. […] highly recommend Mick Grant’s and John Molvar’s target=”_blank”>”Youth and Teen Running Encyclopedia” as an expert guide for additional […]

  3. […] consistency in training. Consistency is possible assuming an athlete is healthy. Learned that from youth coach Mick Grant. Simple? Read […]

  4. […] Based on retrospective of 2014 outdoor track season, we reduced “intensity density” by focusing more on aerobic training, training at the lactate threshold (tempo runs, fartleks), and introducing minimal anaerobic training shortly before championship meets at end of competition season. This marks a departure from past seasons with sets of 800 and 400 repeats at 90-95% of goal race pace, and has improved long-term development and yielded better results this season. More on training approach and principles in the excellent youth and teen book by Mick Grant and John Molvar “The Youth and Teen Running Encyclopedia – A Complete Guide for Middle and Long-Distance…. […]

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