Q: Will Puberty Make me Slower?

Hi Lauren,

I am a rising sophomore in high school and I run cross country.  Last season I weighted 95 lbs and now I weigh 109.  I am a very late grower and I needed some extra weight for my body to grow.  Now that the new season is about to begin I’m worried I weigh too much to be as fast as I was/get better.  What a fast way to lose weight?  I need to drop about 5-7 lbs in a month!




Hey Lauren,

As a freshman in high school, I was a late grower as well.  I was 4 foot 10 and 78 lbs.  Then I grew to 5’7 and 122 pounds by the end of sophomore year.  I was running into things and completely uncoordinated for a while, but my body recovered.  I went on to win state and get a college scholarship, and now I’m 50 pounds heavier than I was as a freshman and I’m the USA Champion.

I completely understand your spaz attack about the weight gain, but what you need to do is zoom out and look at your situation from a distance for a minute.

You needed to grow at some point.  Every female athlete has to go through annoying body changes, and all body changes affect performance.  You might perform better now that you are growing, so train hard with this new body and give yourself a chance to see the results.

But you’ve probably seen many high school girls run fast as freshman and then after puberty they slow down and it scares you.  It scared me too.  But there is no law that says puberty has to permanently slow you down.  When it hits, the best thing you can do is be an ace with your nutrition, eating healthy foods so you become stronger as you grow, and then you will grow in all the right ways.  This is tough to do since part of teenage culture is eating insane amounts of junk.

You might have a little dip in performance for a year while you adjust to the new you, but if you ride it out and train smart, your best performances will be right around the corner.  By junior or senior year you will be killing your freshman times.

The fact that you are asking me this question shows that you are passionate about succeeding.  Now you just have to put all that passion in the right direction.  Remember that high school is just one stage.  Each stage has its own set of rules for how to be the best at that level.  In high school, sometimes it takes nothing more than one year of training and a little girl’s body to be the best, but that is just one small moment in a long life.

The best female athletes are grown women with women’s bodies, and they would mop the floor with a skinny high school girl.  So embrace your growth spurt, putting your energy into helping yourself develop strong, lean muscles and incredible endurance so you can run with the best for many years to come.  If I were you, I’d print a picture of a pro runner and put it on your wall so you can remember what a healthy strong body looks like.  It makes more sense to aspire toward that than to try to go back in time!

Good luck this season,