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Meet my new running partner

Zoe looking all badass in her skull cap and missing front teeth

Zoe and I signed up for a Girls on The Run, run next month. In case you haven’t heard about Girls on the Run, it is a group throughout Canada and the US that teaches girls how to run. Think running clinics for the 8-13 year old crowd. They also follow a curriculum that teaches girls about self-respect, confidence, diversity, acceptance and community.

Here is their mission – which I think is pretty darn cool.

We believe that every girl
can embrace who she is,
 can define who she wants to be,
can rise to any challenge,
can change the world.
Can.

I know – Wow! Right?

Unfortunately, we don’t have a group near us – but there is a chapter in Southeastern Michigan which is close enough for a day trip so we thought we would join them this year for their Winter 5k. Aunt Megs is coming too.

So here is where I go into a rant about why this is so important. Where I plead with you to throw on your sneaks and grab your favourite kid. We (yes – Mom – that means you) are the first role models our kids will have. Although not limited to moms – grandma’s and aunts and sisters, even neighbors – kids are watching you. If you have a young girl in your life, it is up to you to show her how to have a healthy relationship with fitness. It’s important. And she is not going to learn it from youtube.

Sure, of course, we could be talking about athletics and sportsmanship. These are important too. But in my book doing something active for no reason other than it makes you feel good is really the most important behaviour to model for our girls. This is where running comes in.  Running is so much more than about getting down to or maintaining a dress size – it’s about believing you can do it. And this is why I run with my daughter.

In case you needed more reasons to get started I’ve made you a list. You don’t even have to be a good runner – lord knows I am not a good runner. You don’t even need to be a runner at all. You could start together.  So find a kid and just go…

  1. Teach her now what her body is capable of.  Before puberty gets the best of her. Before boys, peer pressure and before high school talks her out of it.
  2. Give her some tools to deal with said puberty, boys, peers and high school.
  3. Oh, and puberty will be easier if she is fit and active.
  4. Confidence. Each goal she reaches will have her soaring with pride (and, well, you might feel a little proud too). She will believe she can. And that my friends is all that matters.
  5. She will understand why goals are important and experience working towards a goal. And she will achieve these goals. Life lessons people!
  6. You will marvel at her determination.
  7. You get a life long running buddy. We all need one. And this one will talk incessantly while you run together and this will make running funner for you too.
  8. She will be highly persistent about sticking to her running schedule, and by default, keeping you to yours (especially when a calendar and stickers are involved). Although this may mean you have fewer saturday afternoons for vegging out in front of the TV.
  9. She will appreciate distances – sure this sounds silly, but this was knowledge that only men had in my pre-adolescent world. (Actually, for most of my adult life I didn’t know.) I didn’t understand what a mile was until I actually ran a mile.  She will say, “the arena is about a mile and a half away.” She will know this because its the turnaround point for her 3 mile run. There is power in this knowledge.
  10. The next time you get home from a solo run she will ask “How was your run mommy?” and that will be awesome.
  11. Cute kid running clothes. Nuff said.
  12. She will run faster than you, improve faster than you, and just be plain better than you ever expected you would be. And for this you will feel joy. Also humiliation is a great motivator – you will run harder just to beat your 8-year-old’s 5k time.
  13. She may hijack your Garmin. Or even consider asking Santa to bring her one for Christmas. And here is where you can “pass” yours down and get a newer and cooler one for you.
  14. Mommy-daughter time not spent eating or shopping. How cool is that? And when you are not running you will talk about running. Finally someone who is not bored to tears by your obsession with running
  15. She will understand that her body is a tool, a gift and something to care for. This may be the most important lesson for her to learn. Be proactive and start with her now.
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