Coaching / Training

The Much-Anticipated "Girls on the Run" Post

I promised in several previous posts that I would let you in on my newest running adventure, an adventure that actually doesn’t require much running from me. Instead, I’m getting the opportunity to coach for Girls on the Run, an organization dedicated to encouraging pre-teen girls develop self-respect and healthy lifestyles all while working up to running a 5K. In many ways, it is totally up my alley, and in others, I am so out of my comfort zone that it is a dot on the horizon.

I can’t remember when or where I first heard about GOTR, but it intrigued me years ago. Last winter, I read a novel whose main character becomes a coach for a similar organization. There’s more to the story, and honestly, it wasn’t a very good book, so I won’t waste your time with the name. Regardless, I was reminded of GOTR and began looking into the Springfield chapter.

I found and liked their Facebook page and loosely kept up with their updates. In April, I inquired about coaching, and one of the board members* reached out. They had a need for running buddies for their spring 5K, and I signed up to run with a fifth-grade girl named Aisha. I enjoyed it so much that I told Trish — our local director — to sign me up to coach this fall. A bit of training and socializing later, and here I am, head coach at a nearby elementary school.

Yesterday completed my first week — two days — of coaching. I have an incredible group of energetic girls, all unique and all eager. But my school is in one of the poorest areas of town, and I have learned, even from our brief conversations, that these girls come from backgrounds that are utterly foreign to me. In all seriousness, my parents have been married to each other for 35 years, and both sets of grandparents have been married longer than that. I grew up in church, participated in academic and athletic extracurriculars, and was taught by my parents, aunts, grandmothers, best friends’ moms, and others to honor others and respect myself. I’ve no idea how to handle homelessness, abusive relationships, unstable families, or the plethora of other situations that I’m bound to discover.

But I can handle running. And encouraging. And hugging. And not taking myself too seriously.** And glitter,*** oh the glitter.

I came home from Tuesday’s session practically comatose. It had been a rough day to start; flighty does not begin to describe my frame of mind all morning. I think my brain was trying to save its energy for the afternoon. Our session was a flurry of chaos: I had not yet met my fellow coaches, so we had to do quick introductions with one another. A few parents came in asking questions. We had a missing registration form and girl in tears because she had to miss the first day. And me, brand new coach armed with my binder trying to remember everything I was supposed to do. Phew! That night, I think Chris was seriously concerned about my frame of mind. I was loopy and a bit slap happy. He kept asking, “Are you sure everything went OK today?” And I always said, “Yes, it’s just a lot to process.” A lot. Names. Faces. Personalities. Energy awards. Rules. Stretches. Warm-ups. Markers. Bathroom breaks. Water breaks. I didn’t sleep well on Tuesday either. My brain was on overload.

But Wednesday I was back to my normal self. And Thursday, our session was excellent. Coach Cara and Coach Lacey were gone (a teacher substituted for them), and I think that allowed me to assert myself as an authority on my own. And it certainly built my confidence to execute my lesson solo.

All this to say, I am really excited about GOTR and my involvement as a coach! I can’t wait for Tuesday!

What about you? Have you been involved with Girls on the Run? What has your experience been like? BTW, if you’re interested in getting involved as a coach, assistant coach, or running buddy for the 5K, let me know!!

* For now, it’s technically a committee member. Until next summer, we are under the umbrella of the YMCA. Next year, we become an independent non-profit.

** Two words: Energy Awards. I performed a few in front of E and Chris; E thought they were awesome, and Chris was concerned that GOTR might be a cult.

*** I once overheard that glitter is the STD of the art supply closet. Chew on that, won’t you?