BGR! and paying it forward
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
Recently I decided that I was going to start a Black Girls Run! group in Omaha. Actually RESTORED_ME encouraged me to do it some time ago and I put it to the back burner. BGR! was founded by two lovely ladies in 2009 as a way to inspire African-American women to take control of their health. At the time, 80% of black women were overweight or obese. 80%!!! That is crazy. In our culture, skinny is seen as a sign of poor health. Girls are encourage to be "thick". So many times along my journey I have had friends and family tell me not to lose "too much" weight. Well, this is a perverse mindset that originated in an age when being bigger was necessary due to the grueling labor we performed in the fields of the South. That was hundreds of years ago and yet, here we sit, holding the weight of our past.
Along my journey, running has become a solace for me. I feel like I am free. I feel my old habits sweating out of me. I feel like I am the strongest person on the Earth. Even when I could only run for a minute or two, I knew I couldn't give it up. Today, I am not the best of runner - still a Beginner in a sense- but I wanted other women to feel that. Last week I began a BGR! group in Omaha. Though we are not registered as an official group yet (working on that) we had our second run yesterday. Prior to going to our run, I decided to do 3.5 miles alone to get warmed up. I had difficulty getting it going because my knee has been bothering me and it was my first time trying to run with a brace. Nonetheless, I got it done even though I walked more than I would have liked.
For the next week my girls are on 7/3 splits. They walk at a steady pace for 7 minutes and then jog for 3. As they do this, I give them encouraging words, explain to them what to expect from their bodies as they run, I watch for form, I correct behaviors that spend energy (like clutched fists and pumping arms) and I run alongside them tracking time and effort. Yesterday I was so proud because by the third run interval, 2 of my 3 girls already were in perfect form and picking up their jog pace. We did 3.75 miles. The last interval, which should have been a jog, I challenged them to run full out until twe reached the parking lot. This was even a challenge for me as I ran just below a sprint for what would be a block and a half. After the girls finished, I took them through stretches. At the end they told me how much fun they had. That was amazing because running typically isn't fun when you are just starting. One girl joked that she already felt new muscles and that she thinks she dropped a pants size! It felt so good to be able to encourage them and inspire and I can wait to see my group expand.