Last week I had the privilege to spend an afternoon with a DC Girls on the Run team at their after school practice!
As you may remember, GOTR is one of my favorite organizations (read more about them here) and I spend a decent amount of time each season volunteering with them to support their programs – from shoe fittings, to volunteering and being a running buddy at the end of season 5k, and this fall, as a member of Team Adelaide.
Team Adelaide is made up of folks that want to get more involved in the GOTR program, but can’t commit to coaching a team (most are like me, with a 9-5 outside of the school system). As a TA member, my job is to partner with a school program, visit two team practices throughout the 12 week season and support the team during the end of season 5k. I’m there to provide additional support, be a liaison for the coaches to the head office and to provide a little quality assurance on the programs. GOTR is committed to providing outstanding character development and fitness programs to these girls, and it is fantastic to be able to see team practices run professionally, with full engagement and participation on the part of the coaches, the girls and even their families at the end of the day.
During my trip to Potomac Lighthouse Academy in Northwest DC, I joined in with two coaches and 8 girls as we discussed the “importance of slowing down” and “centering” yourself in a hectic world. Phew – can I relate!
The head coach led the girls in a discussion circle asking questions like “what do you typically do to relax?”, “how would you feel if you never had a chance to take a break?”, and “have you ever used running as a way to relax?”.
I was beyond impressed with the girls’ answers – practice yoga! stretch and meditate! go to the spa! (Ha – one of my faves). take a nap! (Competing for first place!)
They recognized that when you don’t take time to relax, you get stressed out, angry, sometimes even mean. Some recognized these behaviors in family members and discussed how they can help them relax and get a break. They talked about their thoughts when they run and how exercise can help you stay centered.
Beyond just their incredible insights at 8-11 years old, they were highly engaged in the discussion, listened intently to their friends and gave feedback in the form of hand signals – snaps for “I like that idea”, a hang ten for “me too” and jazz hands for “I’m excited”.
I learned a lot during my 90 minutes with the team and witnessed encouragement and collaboration that in haven’t seen demonstrated in such a pure form in quite a while.
I also thought about how the lesson relates to my own life as a 27-year old “girl on the run” – and I thought about my desire to sometimes abandon all things electronic, my deep appreciation for breathing (seriously, focus on it every once and a while – I’m rarely not amazed) and the fact that I actually DO use running to relax. I love the rhythm and the cadence to a good run. I love feeling the strength in my legs and in my lungs. And that I need to remember the importance of finding quiet time every day to think about things, or perhaps not think at all!
This week, I’ve been taking 20 minutes each morning to stretch and do a short meditation – as my weekly goals for Best Body Bootcamp. More to come on Friday when I recap some of my first impressions (and muscle aches) from this week’s program, but I can already say I’m feeling a bit more centered myself.
Morale of the story is, I want to join GOTR! I wish I’d learned these lessons as a little girl, but, I know them now and I’m constantly learning new ones. So, I’ll settle for desperately wanting to coach! One day it will happen. It’s a not a goal, it’s a personal promise 🙂
If you are in the DC area and want to get involved in this fantastic organization – check out their website and consider volunteering at or registering for the fall 5k on December 2. The 5k race is an amazing celebration where 800 girls get together to prove to themselves that they can dream big and achieve their goals!