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Finding Your Happy Pace

At the end of every Girls on the Run season is a celebratory, non-competitive 5K. It’s the culminating experience of the program and it’s all about breathing, believing, and gathering as a community to celebrate the accomplishments of every GOTR program participant.

Over the course of the season, our program participants set running/walking goals to prepare for the 5K — this teaches them a framework for setting and achieving life goals. When they cross the finish line, it’s a defining moment when they realize that even the seemingly impossible IS possible. 

At the Girls on the Run 5K, we encourage everyone to find their "happy pace" and run, walk, hop, skip, or roll their way to the finish line. We want everyone to experience the benefit and joy of movement, but it’s important to listen to what your body tells you and move in a way that feels good. 

If you’re on the 5K course with one of our program participants, here are the best ways to support them:

Use positive language

The language you use to communicate with them is extremely important. You should show them that you’re there to support them by using language that shows you care. A great way to do that is by using TLC praise, which is when you name an action you’re praising, give it a label they’ll recognize, and celebrate it.

For example: You’re halfway to the finish line! You’re showing so much determination. I’m so proud of you!

Coach Jamie shared: “I love when we do the 5K at the very end and all of the girls are waiting for the last few to cross the finish line and they’re all cheering each other on. Watching them be great teammates, living out those lesson plans of being a positive influence, and encouraging the rest of the girls is great.” 

Encourage them to listen to their body

It’s crucial for them to listen to what their body is telling them. It can be dangerous, mentally and physically, to ignore those signals. Remind them to find their “happy pace” — whether they run, walk, hop, skip, or roll — and rest their body when they need to. 

Coach Angela shared: “Girls from all different backgrounds and abilities have an awesome opportunity to experience joy and movement. It’s a reminder that movement is joyful and that we should be able to find honor and appreciation for all the things our body can do.”  

Reframe negative self-talk

Negative self-talk can be a significant obstacle to the joyful movement we want them to experience at the 5K. If they’re hard on themselves during the 5K, they’ll be less likely to enjoy what they accomplished after they cross the finish line. 

If they’re using negative self-talk, it's essential to be supportive and help them reframe their thoughts. For example, if they say, "I can’t do this," you can encourage them by saying, “I know this feels hard, but I’m here with you and we can take our time to do this together.”

Give them an Energy Award

At the end of every Girls on the Run practice, our program participants give each other Energy Awards — fun cheers, movements, or dances — to celebrate all they accomplished that day.

After they cross the finish line, ask them to show you their favorite Energy Award so you can celebrate their incredible accomplishment together! 

“You felt this feeling like ‘This is what I’ve been working for, and I’m finally achieving my goal. I’m finally reaching the end of GOTR,’ which is sad, but it’s also so fulfilling when you run a 5K and understand that I’ve been working so hard and I can truly accomplish this.”
- Reem Kirja, GOTR Alum

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We inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running. Non-profit girl empowerment after-school program for girls.

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