Giving Back to the Running Community

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I’ve volunteered for a couple races and I’ve paced friends in a few others. There’s something really special and rewarding about being at an event for someone other than myself.

I decided to take it another step further into something with a little longer-term commitment, and over the summer I registered to be a running buddy with the Girls on the Run program.

Today I had my first orientation meeting and within the next week, I will be assigned a girl to mentor through training for a November 5k, including running with her at a practice 5k to be held at the school a few weeks prior to the main event.

I’m so excited to take part in this program and look forward to cheerleading a girl in 3rd, 4th or 5th grade. If the group coach allows, I hope to attend some of the team training sessions too. I’m not sure what I’ll be able to share about the experience (obviously not anything like photos of the kids or identifying details), but I hope to be able to talk about what I do in the role of cheerleader. Part of the job will be writing regular letters to my buddy that (I hope) will encourage and inspire her to meet her goals. This makes me a little anxious because I want to do better than toss platitudes and brand-name slogans at her. Any advice on this would be very welcome.

Has anyone else participated in Girls on the Run or a similar program? Volunteered for races? What were your experiences like? I haven’t seen too many blog stories about volunteering, so I’d love to hear more because I know they’re out there.

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