This past weekend was my 9 year old daughter’s first 5k race, which she ran with her Girls on the Run team. It was her first season with GOTR, so race day was pretty exciting. If you haven’t heard of this amazing organization, you should definitely see if there is a group in your area.
Girls on the Run of Central Illinois put on an incredible event this weekend. The morning started with various stations to get the girls excited about the race. From hair stations to face painting to photo booths, it was quite the event. It was definitely a race planned for a tween girl, and they knew exactly what to do to make them feel special and pump them up for the race.
We are so glad our daughter got involved in Girls on the Run. Here are 3 reasons why:
- Increase in Self-Confidence
Usually starting around third grade, girls tend to start losing the self-confidence they once had when they were younger. By high school, their confidence
in themselves has greatly diminished. Girls on the Run exists as a way to counter act those negative voices that speak self doubt into our girls’ hearts, and replaces them with a strong positive inner dialogue.
I started to see a decline in my daughter’s self confidence towards the end of second grade. A year later, we moved to central Illinois, and so my girl had to start at a new school, make all new friends, meet all new teachers, and learn her way around a new building. She was anxious and somewhat unsure of herself.
The very first Girls on the Run practice, she was nervous because she didn’t know anyone else on the team. But after practice she was so proud to tell me that she was given a bravery award. Her coaches recognized how hard it is to start a new school, and they took the opportunity to encourage her. What may have seemed like a small gesture, meant the world to my girl. She was so proud for being recognized for her bravery!
You see, recently after I gave her a compliment, she told me, “You have to say that. You’re my mom.” So any encouragement from someone who doesn’t “have to say it” holds incredible value. She came home feeling proud and excited to go back.
I have seen a big difference in her self-esteem since starting GOTR. It’s been so fun to see her gain her confidence back and become more sure of who she is.
- Running is a Lifelong Healthy Habit
Some kids grow up playing soccer or volleyball. My daughter played both, and both are excellent sports for kids to play. But running is an activity you can carry into adulthood. Like golf or swimming, running is great for all ages, doesn’t require a team in order to participate, and becomes a hobby that can continue to benefit your health for life.
Developing a love for running, as well as endurance in running, at a young age will increase the likelihood that she will be a runner in the future. Running is something she could do daily, needs little equipment (you do need good shoes), and is an activity she could participate in into adulthood.
Starting to develop stamina in running at a young age is good for both her health as well as her confidence in the sport. Girls on the Run reminds girls they don’t have to be older to start running longer distances. They can start now, and continue to get faster and stronger as time goes on.
- Setting Goals and Achieving Them!
The week before the race, Avery had to run a practice 5k. She was very nervous about finishing. She was a anxious that she couldn’t go the whole 3.1 miles. But she took her skills she learned at GOTR and applied them. She worked hard and realized she could do it.
So when it came time for the race on Saturday, she showed up confident, proud, and prepared to do her best. She learned that even when something is hard (like running 3.1 miles), you can do it if you work hard. She learned a great lesson in setting goals and accomplishing them.
Learning how to set measurable goals is an incredible skill to develop at a young age. The feeling you get when you meet your goal motivates you to set a new goal to work towards. As soon as the race was over, my girl looked at me and said, “When can I run another one? I think I can knock 7 minutes off my time!” That rush she felt when she achieved her goal is not something I could teach her. It is only something she could learn through her own experience, and Girls on the Run provided her with that life lesson.
She experienced the feeling of accomplishment, and it felt good. She has a desire to get stronger and faster, and the more goals she sets, the more she will achieve. And achieving goals develops grit, and the tenacity to continue to put in the work.
Gaining experience in setting goals and achieving them will affect the way she sets goals in all areas of her life, and I’m excited to see the goals she will set for herself now that she knows what’s it’s like to achieve them!
We are thankful for our amazing Girls on the Run coaches, who inspire and encourage these young girls. You impact these girls’ lives more than you know!
If you have a girl between 3rd-5th grade, click here to see if there is a Girls on the Run program in your area. If there’s isn’t, maybe you are just the person to start one. Click here to see how you can become a Girls on the Run coach. And click here for some fun and motivating printables to encourage and inspire the young girls in your life.