1. Running is about empowerment. Running does wonders for your body…sure. But the real wonder comes in how it makes a person feel. Running is feminism at its finest. When you run you OWN yourself, your body, your breath, your thoughts and your intention. Running with your daughter provides her with the experience of body ownership. I can make it run, leap, laugh, think and sweat. I am one with it. It’s mine. I own it.
2. Running together is time together. The T.V. is off. The to-do list, cell phone, homework, housework and bills are at home. For thirty minutes, you’ve got the air around you, the sunshine, your feet, your breathing, your words, your voice and your hands should you want to hold each other’s. Running or walking together can satisfy that yearning you’ve both had to connect, love, share and just be… together.
3. Running is quiet. Do this. Don’t do this. Try this, Buy this. Eat this. Don’t eat this. Listen to this. Don’t say that. Lose Weight. Add these, Apply that to those. Take this. We are constantly hit by advertising messages that have, over the course of our “growing up,” replaced the “knowing and strength” of our own inner voice. Running with your daughter provides an amazing opportunity to intentionally NOT talk–to just share the space, the time and the quiet. Who knows what your inner voice might tell you? “You’re beautiful just the way you are,” might actually be a phrase that makes its way back into your self-talk.
4. Running is about setting goals. Face it. Sometimes it helps to have a goal… you know, to put a little money where our mouth is. So, to provide some incentive to get out there together, pick a 5k race/walk/event and put it down on the calendar. If your finances can support a road trip to a fun destination, go for it. If not, create a fun weekend around an event in your own hometown. Girls on the Run has over 180 5k’s in cities across the U.S. and any one of these would make for an awesome girl’s weekend. Celebrate, honor and activate your power by setting a goal and going for it with each other.
5. Running is about memories. There are these really wonderful things called endorphins. Maybe you’ve heard of them. They visit you twenty to thirty minutes into a mild to moderate physical effort. Endorphins are small chemicals that are released in your brain during exercise. They elevate your mood and can actually heighten your memory of the experience that is creating them. When my daughter Helen was only six she did her first 5k with me. We walked the whole way. We were also dead last. Heck… there was just too much to look at along the course. Don’t run too fast or you’ll miss the pretty flowers, puppies and people! At the end of what I had expected to be a life-changing experience for the two of us, Helen crossed that finish line, somewhat nonchalantly I’ll admit, turned to me and asked, “NOW, can I have that jelly doughnut?” Memory made.
MOLLY BARKER is the founder of Girls on the Run International, Athleta’s charitable partner. A four-time Ironman Hawaii finisher who holds a master’s in social work, Molly combined her passion for sport, her counseling and teaching expertise, and her research on adolescent issues to develop and deliver the first Girls on the Run® curriculum to 13 girls in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1996. The innovative, experiential program combines training for a 5k event with life-changing, confidence building lessons that enhance the physical and mental health of 8 to 12 year-old girls. Today, Girls on the Run is offered in over 150 cities across North America and hundreds of thousands of girls and women’s lives have been changed by the program. Learn more and get involved at GirlsontheRun.org »