April 23 2018
Many runners have likely participated in the "flat me" trend without even realizing it.
Last week wrapped up the spring season of Girls on the Run and my ninth season as a head coach. The Girls on the Run program for third through sixth graders has become a passion of mine for so many reasons.
Being a preteen girl today seems harder than ever. Between pressures from social media, selfies and Snapchat, the young girls of this generation are under so much more pressure than older women ever were at that same age. Enter Girls on The Run, an international program aiming to target self-esteem and encourage physical activity for preteens. Although our season goal is a 5K race, Girls on the Run is so much more than a running program. Each week, we coach our team through specific lessons and activities targeting themes around friendships, team building, social pressures, bullying and stress management. Today’s young girls encounter so many more decisions at younger ages with bigger stakes for their futures. If I can help my small group of girls by providing them with some of the skills they can use to make those decisions, then my time has been well spent.
The program uses running as a medium to help girls build confidence to stand up for what they believe in. As they navigate the next few years of middle and high school, my hope is that they are able to tap into some of the skills we taught them to make choices they can be proud of. My wish for them is that they always remember that we are so much stronger when we build each other up.
The personal satisfaction I feel watching them grow and mature throughout the season is indescribable. Girls who never thought they could run a 5K are finishing the race with huge smiles on their faces and an even bigger sense of accomplishment. I’m looking forward to many more seasons ahead!