The first week of Girls on the Run Nashville was a major success! I have 15 lovely third and fourth graders on my team this season! I always forget how young the girls are in the Fall! I have two girls from past seasons, and a younger sister from a past GOTR!
Each season, the girls get to pick a positive adjective that starts with the first letter of their name. For example, I am Courageous Corrie. I can honestly say that I have lived more courageously than ever this past year, and it is such a good reminder during the times when I'm feeling vulnerable or nervous about taking a risk!
This year the new adjectives are, Enchanting Elizabeth and Curious Clara. I love these!! One exciting detail; I have a girl who was on our team last Fall. She was painfully shy, in fact, she never picked an adjective. This year when she walked in, she gave me the BIGGEST HUG ever. It made my heart pitter patter! It was so much fun to watch Olivia grow over the season last year, her confidence was visible and showed in the way she beat her goals for running laps during practice. She started going off on her own to complete her goals and then finished with a giant smile. "Yeah. It feels pretty good. I didn't know if I could do it. But I did!" she said triumphantly but quietly, in just her way. These are the moments I coach for. This year she was ready with an adjective: Outrageous Olivia. Perfect!
Every single GOTR ran at least a mile on our first day! One of the girls ran 2.25 miles!
In my experience, one of the most valuable things the girls learn during the first week of Girls on the Run, is about running. Some of them timidly raise their hand when I ask them if they're nervous to run, I praise them for being so brave to share that with us! They think they'll be running the whole time and are quite nervous about keeping up with the other girls.
On day one, I tell them that all I expect is for them to just keep moving forward. I don't care if they hop/skip/jump/tiptoe/run/jog their laps, as long as they are moving forward! (p.s. This is a great motto no matter what age you are!!)
On day two, I introduce pacing. Pacing is a concept that I had a hard time with myself, I am competitive and I think most people's natural instinct is to start as fast as you can, I don't think pacing comes naturally.
I see this at 5Ks all the time. People sign up for a 5K, and then at the marker for 1 mile, they look like they're going to die, have a horrible experience, are embarrassed, and then say they hate running. They have no idea what it means to pace. This is one thing I love doing as a Coach; teaching the girls to pace. It comes as such a relief to them! First, I tell them what it means, and then I show them examples. I also tell them the importance of making sure you don't use up all of your energy right away! Running with them is the best way to teach them what pacing is, I mean jeez, if the Coach is running slow right next to you, it must be ok!
It's always great when Coaches are runners themselves, their girls are usually the most successful at our end of the season 5K. And by successful, they are happy, have tried their best, and feel like they've accomplished a huge goal! I do not mean that they've won first or second, we don't do places for the girls or keep their time! The girls who didn't run very much during the season are usually disappointed and walk away with a negative connotation of running. It is our job as their Coach to make sure they are as successful as possible. (If anyone reading this is interested, I have lots of techniques that I use at practice to help girls stay motivated! Leave me a comment below!)
During the first week, they also create their 'Team Commitments'. They came up with every single item on this list. You can't see this one, because its on the back, but my most favorite commitment is 'support each other's goals'. THE BEST!!
And last but not least, the girls learn what it means to be a GIRL ON THE RUN. More on that next week!
Have you ever coached for Girls on the Run or participated as a running buddy? Has your daughter been a Girl on the Run? I would love to hear your experience with GOTR! Leave me a comment below!!