Alright, let's face it. There are as many variations in style, intention and motivation as there are people who do it. And yes…I’ll admit my motivation for running has changed over the years. Some years I ran to maintain weight. Other years it was a sneaky attempt to meet cute guys. Then of course, there was and still is the “quiet time for myself” motivation that every mother, whether single or married needs!
Thirteen years ago, rounding out my last Ironman Triathlon, I made a decision to celebrate the “center” I feel while running by helping young girls develop that “center” at an early age. This way when the tough times of adolescence come along, they will be better equipped to handle them. Instead of running around or over life’s challenges, they will tackle them head on, learn from them and become stronger in the process.
What I didn’t expect were the many lessons I have learned by working with the 3rd-5th grade girls in our Girls on the Run Program. The Type-A, competitive, grit your teeth and furrowed brow kind of runner I was in my early 20’s and 30’s simply wasn’t prepared for the slow-pace and laid-back style of a 3rd grade girl.
So, when I get caught up again in the stress of training for that special marathon or dropping my personal best a second or two…I refer to these real “Rules of Running” as provided by a group of gregarious 3rd graders in Girls on the Run.
Rule # 1: If you shoe lace becomes untied during a run or race, never (and I mean NEVER) under any circumstances, tie it back. The distraction of the shoe lace makes the miles go by much faster and your cardiovascular functioning is improved dramatically as you attempt to avoid tripping.
Rule # 2: It’s absolutely acceptable to run in your cowboy boots, skirt and hat. As a matter of fact, this is a good thing. Running shoes are totally over-rated. Adding a pair of fringed chaps really adds to the look.
Rule #3: Bedazzle your outfit. Glue guns and felt monkeys on your running clothes make them a lot cuter. Stitching various jewels, charms and stuffed animals to a pair of shorts makes for a beautiful and head-turning ensemble.
Rule #4: To better compliment the bedazzling of your running attire, earrings and jewelry are fully acceptable. Multiple bracelets lined up on the arm and earrings that hang to your shoulders provide nice “sparkling touches” to your already winning smile as you are photographed crossing the finish line.
Rule #5: Dragonflies are good luck. Never squash, run over or leave behind a dragonfly. EVER! You will live to regret it and be cursed, by the evil dragonfly witch, for the rest of your life. Dragonflies must be gently placed upon the index finger and carried slowly across the entire course, EVEN if it means it takes you an hour and a half to complete the 5k event.
Rule #6: Stray dogs really do want to come home with you. Plus chasing after them during your race actually improves your cardiovascular functioning.
Rule #7: Wearing fairy wings to a competitive track workout or a race makes you run faster and makes you cooler than anyone else on the planet. Period. Conversation over.
Rule #9: Wearing as many hair accessories as possible holds the hair in place better than one simple ponytail holder. To further compliment the look, consider painting your hair, pink, green or purple. You don’t paint the hair, however, to look good or cool. No, you paint the hair because it makes your sweat look like the stuff that comes out of Mia Hamm or Michael Jordon in those really awesome Gatorade ads.
Plus if you are in middle school it scares your parents into thinking that you have joined a band and will soon be leaving for Southern California.
Rule #10: Carrying Cheetos, potato chips, blue pop rocks or any other totally non-nutritive substance in a plastic ziploc baggie, stopping to unzip, sample a few, and then re-zip while in a running event, is a good and sound nutritional plan. (See Rule #8 to round-out the experience.)
Rule #11: Throwing up at the finish line means you have finally made the big leagues.
Only accomplished runners throw-up. What’s really cool about this can be better understood if you read Rule #10.
Rule #12: Watching and waiting for the little brown bunny, with the white tail and white paws and cute little nose to come back out in someone’s front yard, at the two mile mark, is fine, even if it adds 15 minutes to your 5k time.
Rule #13: Why bother with an Ipod? Reading a large, hardback illustrated picture book, while running across a dirt trail is a helpful way to discourage boredom from overtaking your long runs.
Rule #14 (and by far the most important and useful rule): When in doubt…and at any point during a workout or race, when you just don’t think you can go on anymore, no matter WHERE you are, lie down.
Rule #15: Be sure you know how to spit before you actually try it. This rule is very, VERY important to your teammates and the other people running beside you.
Rule #16: Everyone has a unique talent and finding that unique talent during a long run is a perfectly acceptable and very likely place to discover it.
• Burping the ABC’s;
• Jump roping, while running the track;
• Playing the guitar like a chicken and running at the same time;
• Singing opera like a cow.
So there it is. Calm down, chill out and run your next 5k…Girls on the Run STYLE!!