263. Girls on the Run: From the Coach’s Perspective

As might remember, when I signed up for the WI Half Marathon, I also signed up to raise money for Girls on the Run Chicago as part of their SoleMates Program.  Today I have a wonderful guest post from fellow Chicago blogger Val over at Vegan by Valerie.  Val is a GOTR coach and has been kind enough to share her experiences with us.  If you would like to donate to Girl on the Run, please visit my fundraising page.  My minimum goal is $250, but I would love to be able to double that!  I feel very strongly about the value of the GOTR program, and hope one day I’ll be able to post about my own coaching experiences!

Girls on the Run Vegan by Valerie guest post

When Stina asked me to write a guest post about my experience as a Girls on the Run Coach, I jumped at the chance!  I’m so excited for her to be running the upcoming Wisconsin Half Marathon as a Solemate, raising money for this AMAZING organization.

This spring is my second time coaching Girls on the Run, although this is my first year doing so as a head coach.  For anyone interested in starting a Girls on the Run chapter at your school, the hardest part is getting started.  You need to apply to be a Girls on the Run site at least one season before you hope to start – i.e., apply in September to start by the following spring.  Once your school is visited and approved, you will need to attend a 6 hour coaches training and a 5 hour first aid/CPR training – and then you are good to go! 

After putting in the initial prep work, coaching Girls on the Run is nothing but a blast.  The lessons are laid out in a very specific, detailed way.  I’m a social worker, and not a teacher, for a reason, because lesson plans aren’t my forte – but I promise these are idiot-proof!

Each twice-a-week after-school practice begins with a lesson, which centers around topics such as healthy eating, the importance of relaxation and meditation, friendship, values and being true to yourself, and negative and positive self-talk.  After the lesson, we do a warm-up activity and then finish by walking/run-walking/running/skipping some laps, all in the name of preparing for the culminating (non-compettive) 5K race at the end of the season.

[Note from Stina: I ran in the Fall 5K in 2009, and this event is what made me so passionate about actively helping the GOTR cause!]

Girls on the Run Vegan by Valerie guest post

This year my girls are only three weeks into the season, but already I have seen positive changes occurring within each student.  I’ve frequently overheard the girls talking in the hallway to their friends about the things they have learned during the lessons.  One of the girls recently wrote an essay about how Girls on the Run has taught her to be fearless, and gave an example of how one day she came to practice sad but after talking through her feelings to her coach (that would be me!) she felt better and ready to conquer the world.  

I only wish Girls on the Run had been around when I was growing up.  Every student that goes through the Girls on the Run program comes out a more confident person with a greater sense of identity and pride in herself, and it’s so exciting to see this outstanding organization growing to more and more schools each year. 

The only downfall is that at my school, only 15 lucky girls are able to participate at one time.  Thankfully,you can do your part to help Girls on the Run reach out to more and more girls by becoming a Solemate or by volunteering your time as as coach.  I promise you won’t regret it!

Girls on the Run Vegan by Valerie Guest Post

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