Five Reasons to Run with Your Daughter

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.

Molly Barker GOTR2. 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.

GOTR You Rock5. 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 »


September 14, 2012 at 12:29 pm

Before realizing who wrote this, I was thinking about my own Girls on the Run experience earlier this year and remembering just how special it was to train, mentor, inspire and ultimately run the race with the girls! Truly an experience of a lifetime. Thank you Molly for a wonderful program!

The Über Geek!

September 14, 2012 at 6:50 pm

I have been running with my oldest daughter since she was 6 years old. She is 8 now and a gymnast, but she still loves to run and can do an easy 6 miles!


September 15, 2012 at 5:57 am

Great post! I’d love for us to be able to take a road trip for an event. We started going to the track as a family this summer and it has been so cool to watch the kids improve and at different points have one-on-one time as we make our way around. With 4 kids this has been the best way to make this kind of family fitness time happen.


September 16, 2012 at 7:40 pm

I have 3 year old twin boys, however so much of your post speaks to me as well. As a working mum who is also juggling training for a marathon, I feel like life has become way too fast and that I am missing time with my sons “just being” – no tv, no phone, no computer, no distractions. Early Sunday morning as I arrived home from a long run, I was met at the door by both boys who asked “we come for run with Mummy? We come too?”. They looked so hopeful that there was no way that I could say no, so we found sneakers for them and headed out the door. It has been too long since I enjoyed a “run” that much – kids have so much energy and derive so much enjoyment from just moving and being outside. We didn’t go far, there was lots of walking punctuated by short sprints (“lets go fast mummy!”) and lots of stopping to look at sticks and rocks and birds and trees, but in that 30 minute wander, I found far more peace and felt far more satisfaction than I have during a run for weeks. Thanks for summing up (far more eloquently than I) all the important things that we can gain from running with our children.

TWINS RUN in our family

September 17, 2012 at 8:21 am

We love to run with our daughters! 🙂


September 17, 2012 at 2:07 pm

My daughter Emily 13 and I just started training for a half marathon in December. Neither of us were runners prior to a month ago. Our training runs are absolutely the best. Dad’s – don’t miss this connection time with your daughter for all the reasons pointed out above. 13 can be an awkward age for both daughter and dad. These runs are the calmest and best way to connect.


September 18, 2012 at 4:16 pm

My daughter (age 22) and I run together whenever we can. We push each other up hills and know each other’s pace and proclivities like no other partners. Great time spent together and all the more precious now that she’s living away from home and we don’t get to see each other all the time. So many of our runs this summer ended in a river or lake–such fun!

Traci Powell Amedee

September 24, 2012 at 12:06 pm

I did girls on the run with my daughter last year it was such a moving expierence we crossed the finish line together holding hands, it was our first 5k but not our last we will b there this year crossing the finishline together

Kelly Brandt

September 26, 2012 at 11:52 am

I Love this. Thank you for posting this!

I run with both my daughter (13) AND my two sons (11 and 9). It is our “alone” time together. Like stated above, no TV, no video games, no nagging from Mom, just time spent together. It is also a “no pressure zone”, so to speak. I let them be in charge at this time. The rule is, I am not permitted to nag or complain and they set the pace. I leave it up to them to take the reins and go with it. I have found out so much about them as people this way. It is a great way to just let them be who they are. It brings us closer and firms up an already great relationship.

carrie pearson

October 08, 2012 at 11:01 am

My sister is a new GOTR coach and I am so proud of her! Way to go, Stacey Roys in Dexter, MI!

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