Good morning, Tuesday. I usually try my best to get out a post on Monday mornings, but that did not happen yesterday. Sunday was a busy evening for me working on some final preparations for the Girls on the Run 5k and planning out my classes I am teaching for the week.
This weekend will be the Girls on the Run Fall of Central Indiana Fall 5k. For the second time, I am the race director for this event. If you are not familiar with Girls on the Run, is a 10-12 week program for girls in third through eight grade that combines training for a 5k race with a curriculum that encourages positive self esteem, working with others and stepping outside of that “girl box”.
Coaching Girls on the Run
I was first introduced to Girls on the Run when I was student teaching. There was a teacher who had a Girls on the Run program at her school. At the time I had too much on my plate to get involved, but I knew once I had a full time job, it was something I would like to do.
My second year of teaching I approached my principal and asked him if I could bring the program to my school. Without hesitation, he let me and I had 33 girls sign up for my first year in the program! It was incredible. The program goes beyond the girls: this research based program does just as much for the coaches as it does for the young participants. As a coach, this program really helped me become more confident. It helped me stop that negative self talk and become more comfortable in my own skin. As I coached this person I often thought, “I am supposed to be helping these girls, but I am learning just as much or even more as them.” I believe there needs to be a Girls on the Run for adult women- we’d all be much nicer.
It was through coaching that I fell in love with this organization and new I needed to do more. I ran the program for two years at that school before taking a bigger step.
Founding a New Council
Each council of Girls on the Run starts out by county. I had taught in one county and lived in another. The county where I lived did not have Girls on the Run and I felt that it could benefit from the program. I came up with one of my crazy, outrageous ideas and though, “I think I can start my own council of Girls on the Run.” Once again, my husband supported this crazy idea and my dream became a reality. After a long application process and some fundraising, Girls on the Run of Hamilton County became a new Girls on the Run Council in 2009. Girls on the Run of Hamilton County has now expanded into other counties and is Girls on the Run of Central Indiana.
After being the Council Director for two years, I stepped down when I decided to pursue my Masters Degree. I couldn’t completely get away from the organization that I put so much blood, sweat and tears into so I decided to volunteer as the race director. I absolutely love this aspect of the organization because the 5k is such a happy, celebratory event. The excitement the girls have as soon as they show up on race day is contagious. You have girls of all shapes, sizes and abilities crossing the finish line- many of them their first ever 5k.
The positives of this program also pours into the families. As each girl runs the end of the season 5k she has a running buddy. Often times, her running buddy is a family member and most participants have several family members and friends sign up to run the race as well. The whole 5k event is family friendly and encourages healthy living and the importance of MOVING for the whole family big and small.
It has also poured into my family and I am not even a participant! After experiencing the awesomeness of GOTR first hand, my mom decided to bring it to her county as well. My mom and a few other women started Girls on the Run of Allen County. They in their second year of operating and are doing wonderful things for the community. It is fun to share with her what worked and what didn’t during my start up years so she can improve her council. I am so proud of the work she does and continues to do.
My Mother-in-Law is also involved in the organization. When you start an organization, the first people you get on board are those close to you. Since my mother-in-law was a teacher in Hamilton County it was a natural fit for her to help me get her school on board. When I asked her if she’d help talk to her principal, she told me she would, and she would also coach! As a music teacher, I was not expecting this, but it just shows that it is not just a running program- it is a program about life. Although she is now retired, she continues to coach at the school where she worked. She also volunteers at the 5k race and trains coaches.
And of course Josh continues to be a Girls on the Run supporter. He is always asking what he can do to help and will bundle up the kiddos (as long as it is not too cold), put them in the jogger, and run the race himself. He too, especially now that we have a daughter, understands the importance of the program.
So, if you live in the Indianapolis area and what to experience the joy first hand, come out and join us this weekend for the Girls on the Run 5k. I promise, you will leave inspired.