Friday, October 12, 2012
Today we had the second meeting of the Fall 2012 running club, made up of girls in third through fifth grade. I am providing support to another teacher who is the lead coach/organizer of the club. This is her third year, my second. Many of the girls are repeat members, which says a lot about the level of fun involved!
I have not been a runner since my college days, and then only recreational, not organized. I am a pre-Title Nine female, always more into music and reading than anything causing me to break a sweat. My only outdoor sport these days is bicycling, which we do early in the morning on weekends, to avoid traffic and the sun (my personal health nemesis). So why did I sign on to twice-a-week running sessions leading up to a 5k?
It's for the girls! This running club emphasizes exercise, healthy eating habits, giving encouragement and support to others, healthy body image and self-esteem, basically the attributes and habits that will help these girls thrive during the coming difficult middle school years when peer pressure and negative societal messages undermine good health and self-esteem in girls.
Since I'm not a strong runner (though lighter on my feet than last year thanks to SparkPeople!), I am the caboose on our runs, making sure no one is left behind and offering encouragement along the way. I figure I can also demonstrate that one does not need to be a super fit athlete or model to enjoy getting exercise. We talk with the girls about our goal not being to win a race, but to reach the other side of the finish line. Last year I jogged very slowly along side some girls who would only walk the last portion of our 5k, but in the end they joined me in running across the finish line. We were so proud of ourselves!
So if you happen to see a gaggle of girls running with a lady in a not-too-sporty sun hat, smile and wave hello - we thrive on encouraging words!