I was 19 when I ran my first 5k. Basically an adult.
One of the things I remember noticing were how many kids there were running that race. Up until then running races had seemed completely beyond my capability. After that first 5k however, I was hooked, and continued increasing the length and frequency of the races I'd enter until I ran the Philly marathon last fall.
I could go on and on and on about how much I love running, but that's not what this post is about. This post, is about a program called Girls on the Run. Girls on the run is an international running program for girls in 3rd-5th grade. For three months the girls meet twice a week to run, and the program culminates with a 5k race. In addition to running we discuss issues like self-esteem, peer pressure, and healthy living habits.
I've wanted to get involved with this program for a while, and this spring, was finally able to work it into my schedule, so I am an assistant coach. It is so. much. fun.
For one thing, now that I don't babysit anymore, I am hardly ever around children. My friends aren't having kids yet, I don't teach, and it's dawned on me that it's very strange how I am completely detached from an entire segment of the population.
Secondly, I had forgotten how little 8-10 year olds are. They are adorable. And still at that age where they're goofy, and nice to one another, and it breaks my heart to think that in a couple of years they'll turn into mean girls. (I think they'll come out on the other side of puberty just fine though.)
Third, getting to share my love of running with these girls is awesome, and it's also so cool that they're getting introduced to running in a 5k already. I wouldn't have changed the fact that I was singing 6 hours a week at 10, but I would have certainly preferred Girls on the Run to intramural soccer, and it would have been cool to begin my love affair with running earlier in life.
Spending time with these girls helps to put things in perspective as well. Last week we discussed emotions. At one point during the conversation one of girls was talking and said "...I mean, because most people are really happy and content, so..." She continued talking, but I don't think any of us coaches heard the rest of her point. We were totally fixated on the statement "most people are really happy and content." She said it so surely, like it was an obvious statement.
How awesome, for that to be your view of the world, and how awful that it isn't more true. We are so good at making our own problems, when really we should be the happy content people these kids think we are.