America’s Next Great Running Hope, and One of the Cruelest Twists in Youth Sports

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A wiry 5-foot-4 with naturally powerful legs and a seemingly massive motor, Tuohy appears to be a specimen crafted for her sport.

Diglio first saw her run when she showed up at his local running clinic when she was in fifth grade. Even at that age, she had a remarkably clean technique. She powers her foot off the ground with such force that she nearly kicks herself in the rear end with her heel on every step. Most young runners, even fast ones, barely get their feet above their knees. If Tuohy were running barefoot, the bottom of her feet might be sunburned by the end of a long race.

Tuohy’s steps always appear to land directly under her center of gravity, in perfect position to maximize power in every step. She would run all day, every day, if her coaches let her. Running that fast, and winning with such dominance that often, can be addicting. Diglio and Murphy have limited her to 45 miles a week. In August, Diglio allowed a hard 10-mile run weekly in the lead-up to the fall cross-country season for the first time.

The biggest challenge is trying to persuade her to rest rather than run. At track meets, she is in a constant state of warming up or cooling down, or walking the grounds with her friends and teammates. “She’s incapable of sitting still,” Murphy said.

At the outdoor track state championships last year, near the end, Murphy asked her what the distance monitor on her watch said. Her answer — 12 miles. She won the 1,500 meters anyway.

Is she running too much?

Mitchell, the Bronxville coach, tells his girls to stay below 35 miles a week during the summer and keeps them below 25 miles each week during the school year. “The idea is to run your best during the last four weeks of your spring senior season,” he said.

Tuohy’s long-term goal is to qualify for the Olympic trials in the 1,500 meters in 2020. That would mean another trip to Oregon, where she traveled with Diglio and the North Rockland cross-country team last fall for the national championships.

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