(I started this post over a week ago and time got away from me to sit down and finish it..)
Last night I was finally able to meet the members of the Girls With Sole program. I wrote about this program while training for Disney, having dedicated that race to help raise money to fund the first program here in Charleston.
Unfortunately for my schedule, the program runs Monday afternoons when I am at work. I took a day off yesterday so that I could at least participate in one of the sessions. Assuming each session is run similarly (and I’m pretty sure they are), the girls meet and sit at a big table where they have a snack before heading outside. Today, the workout was a few soccer drills and a half mile run, split into eighths (slow, fast, slow, fast etc). The three coaches (myself and two others runners) each took a small group of similarly paced girls. Afterwards, we all meet back inside for a final activity – this time it was to talk about role models and the qualities the girls see in those they look up to.
Before the program began, the director was explaining the plan for the day and how we were going to split up into groups. She admitted she has had some difficulty getting the girls motivated to run, as many of them either aren’t particularly interested, or are easy to say that they are done once the tire, as they haven’t yet learned to pace themselves. She also mentioned that there is hope to start another program closer to my area, if it would be something Id be interested in.
The three girls I ran with ran pretty well, and I think a couple, if not all of them could be good runners. I hit a 6:10 pace at one point, and although it was only for about a tenth of a mile, two of them kept up with me. I thought most of that hour and a half, and since then, though, if I were to be a more frequent coach in this program, what could I say to help these girls like running? What could I do to encourage them to keep trying?
Girls in this program are here because they are either at risk for or have already experienced abuse or neglect sometime in their lives. They have already had a rough road. Some like running, some don’t, but all at least seemed to enjoy the physical activity. Fifth grade seems like such a long time ago that I find it hard to come up with a way to relate to girls who are ten and eleven years old.
I do remember that I didn’t always like running. I ran down baselines and across a soccer field, but to run for no other reason than to run made no sense to me. Track seemed silly, cross country even crazier. Although I was active I wasn’t a runner until college, when I often felt overwhelmed (for lack of a better word). I’ll never forget the first step I took out the door, across the quad, and about a halfway down the street. I’d bet I only ran a quarter mile total before I was completely out of breath. Physically tired, but emotionally better, even in that short distance. I feel like I can understand these girls in the sense that they need an outlet for these feelings they are experiencing, but can’t understand what it is like to live in their shoes and their homes. I have written often about the reasons why I run, and many of them surround things like sanity and the ability to deal with hard issues and feelings.
But how do I make it relatable?