March 28, 2011

I Love GOTR!

I first heard about Girls on the Run years ago, I think in a magazine article I was reading at the doctor's office.  As soon as I read the part in the article about how the girls run a 5K wearing tiaras, I was convinced that this program was something fabulous.  Earlier this school year, I started learning more about this remarkable organization, and the more I learned, the more I knew I HAD to be a part of it.  When I volunteered at the Fall 5K in November, I was hooked.  From the tiaras to the face point to the grins on the girls' faces as they ran past the spot I was cheering at (around mile 3), hand in hand with dads or moms or loved ones, digging deep and racing to the finish, I loved it all.

In the past few weeks, I've been lucky enough to have the opportunity to volunteer as a coach at a nearby site.  (I plan to start a site at my school next year, but for now I'm just happy to be coaching!)  I have to say that coaching GOTR has not fallen at all short of my expectations.  There are many things I love about Girls on the Run, but here are some of my favorites...

ONE: Healthy Body Image & Self-Esteem
The Girls on the Run curriculum is SATURATED with activities and lessons that focus on building the girls' self-esteem.  For example, last week we wrote down negative self-talk comments we say to ourselves on index cards (ex. "I'm a bad runner) and positive self-talk comments (ex. I love my sense of humor!).  Then, the girls DRAMATICALLY read their negative comments aloud before "feeding" them to No-Nonsense Nelly (aka a shoe box with a monster face on it).  We all cheered when they fed the negative comments to the monster!  Later, during the running workout, every time the girls passed a coach, they were given a card with one of the positive comments on it to hold/read during their lap.  While running with the girls, I have to say that even I loved getting a card that said something like "I'm a great runner!" to hold during my lap!  GOTR is about so. much. more than running, and in a world where girls are fed so many horrible messages about what they should or shouldn't look like, be like, or act like, any program that celebrates them for who they are is important.

This is the message engraves on the back of the GOTR 5K medals, and it touches my heart when I read it.  What a great message for girls (or anyone) to grow up hearing.

TWO: Active Kids
I'm pretty uncoordinated.  Like pathetically uncoordinated.  So, as a child, I never got involved in sports.  They just weren't fun for me because I was so terrible.  After awhile, I placed myself in a neat little box of "non-athletes," and it was only in the past few years that I realized that being uncoordinated does NOT mean that I can't be an athlete.  Girls on the Run not only gets kids UP and MOVING AROUND, but it reminds the girls in the program that they can be athletes, no matter how fast or slow they are.  GOTR is NOT about competition, it's about getting moving and having fun.  The program makes fitness and being active fun.  The workouts always have a fun, energetic twist, and girls are always encouraged to walk if they feel like it (or skip, dance, twirl, you name it!). It's a unique way to "grab" girls who otherwise may not be interested in sports, and show them that being active is FUN!

THREE: Going for it!

While I started running at the end of high school, it took me until last summer to run my first 5K.  Why?  Because I was worried I'd have to walk during the 3 miles and that I would be the slowest one.  Seriously.  If I've learned anything in the past year, it's that running and fitness is about celebrating your body for what it can do.  Races are a chance for me to celebrate my training and experience the community of running with other people who are doing the same thing.  And yes, I walk.  A lot.  I NEVER would have dared to run a 5K as a child.  No one ever told me that running could be FUN and that it's about trying your best and reaching for your dreams.  In fact, I just remember hating running in PE class.  GOTR has a different message: it teaches girls that they CAN achieve big things and helps them set big goals.  Many of the girls can barely run a mile at the beginning of the program, but they all make it to the 5K at the end.  Some will walk most of it, others will fly through--and it's all okay.  GOTR teaches girls that it's okay to believe in yourself!

I can't wait for the Spring 5K in June--let's hope my legs are in good shape and I can run with them!


  1. I am totally sold on this organization now! How do I get my daughter involved? There must be a website. How awesome this sounds!

  2. This organization sounds AWESOME! I would love to be a sponsor for something like that in my school. I will look into it.

  3. We have had a GOTR grant for the passed two years at our school. I even made it out to run with the ladies a couple of times! DEFINITELY a worthwhile and enjoyable experience. A lot of moms, dads, and older siblings joined the girls in their training. Very neat to see the family involvement.

  4. I love everything I've read about GOTR - I love how they promote self-confidence through running. I wish I had gone through something like that when I was younger. I never considered myself an athlete and similar to you, I just ran my first 5k in December. I hope to be involved with GOTR some day, I'm guessing they have activities near me!

  5. Yay for GOTR! I'm a running buddy too. :)

  6. XLMIC: DEFINITELY look into GOTR for your daughter! I wish I had had something like it as a kid! Search online for the the chapter in your city. If it's not offered at your daughter's school, you guys can sign up for the Spring 5K anyways...or even start a chapter :)

    Megan: It really is awesome! There are programs for elementary and jr high, but nothing for HS. They always need coaches though--that's how I ended up coaching at a different school than I work. Check it out!

  7. I love Girls on the Run! I wish I could start one, but when looking into it, it's a bit pricey to start one. I'd be interested to follow your process if you're able to start one!


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