Like a lot of Mainers, a patient of mine named Mike is looking forward to the snow melting and the temperatures rising. He’s excited to get out of the gym and back on the road instead of the treadmill.

Now that he’s able to run on the roads he expects his weekly long runs to stretch to 20 miles and longer. They better: He’s signed up for this year’s Sugarloaf Marathon on May 15.

But one thing that makes Mike different from most Mainers preparing for this 26.2-mile race is his age. Mike is only 14.

For decades, there has been controversy about whether kids should participate in certain sports. First came those who suggested that skeletally immature people — those who are still growing — should not lift weights. The fear was that weightlifting might damage kids’ bones.

Later, skeptics warned that long-distance racing was harmful to kids, saying their frames simply couldn’t take the pounding of running more than 26 miles.

As it turns out, there is no research to support either of these warnings. Though weightlifting in kids and adolescents has been studied extensively, it has never been shown to be harmful to kids of any age.

Just like adults, kids have to be taught to do exercises correctly and should have supervision in the gym. But parents can rest easy: There is no evidence that strength training causes harm to youngsters.

In fact, the National Strength and Conditioning Association recently released a position statement authored by a group of national experts whose conclusion was that strength training “can offer unique benefits for children and adolescents.”

There is also good news for younger runners. Just last year, a major study examined the question of kids’ safety on the marathon course.

William Roberts, a sports medicine consultant and researcher at the University of Minnesota, and his colleague, William Nicholson, compiled data from 18 years of supervising the Twin Cities Marathon medical services. They looked at injury rates among all of the runners ages 7-17 who finished the marathon. You read right — one finisher was 7.

And his conclusion? In 18 years, only four of the 310 kids visited the medical tent, less than half the adult injury rate.

In addition, all of the four injuries reported during those 18 years were mild. None of them required any treatment other than rest in the medical tent.

Interestingly, none of the injuries occurred in runners younger than 16. In this group, the younger kids were actually safer than high schoolers.

Roberts and Nicholson were understandably cautious in interpreting their data. They say only that in their group of marathoners there was no evidence that kids suffered any increased danger.

But to many others, this study is yet more evidence that suggests youngsters should not be unduly restricted from running.

The take-home message for parents — and for Mike as he prepares for his first marathon? When it comes to running, even long distances, kids are fine.

Dr. James Glazer is a sports medicine physician for Coastal Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Freeport. He serves as a consultant for the U.S. ski team.