GOTR Season Recap

Hi everyone!  It’s the day that my students have been dreaming about since last August…the last day of school!  I think it’s so crazy that the school year is over and it’s officially summer in Alaska!  Although I won’t have any classes to teach at schools for the next few months, I’ll still be working and getting ready for next year.  I ended this year on a high note with all of my groups, and I’m so proud and amazed by how far they came since day one!  I love working with teens so much and I can’t say enough good things about my first year as an educator in Alaska  🙂

With the end of the year also came the end of my volunteer coach position with Girls on the Run.  Our last session was last Thursday, and I was so sad to have to say goodbye to those amazing girls!  We had a fun party to celebrate their accomplishments and reflect on how amazing they all were.

IMG_5144   IMG_5138They all signed our shirts!  This shirt is priceless  🙂

IMG_5135Pretty sure we were dancing around to Disney music

It made me really think about why I joined the program.  I was very busy at work, but with my flexible hours I was able to leave early twice a week to make it to practice by 3:30.  At first, I was so nervous about what I’d have to do!  I’m used to teaching from a curriculum book, but I usually have lots of time to prepare and perfect my lessons.   With GOTR I was able to read from the book while adding a bit of my own flair, and once I felt comfortable with the flow of the lessons and what I was going to teach each week I started to relax and have fun!  I also loved that the lessons were so relevant and serious – we talked about bullying, media, gossip, being a good friend, loving yourself, being healthy, and having effective communication, but we did it in a fun and unique way that really worked with the 3rd-5th grade age group.  My favorite part was how we tried to make running as fun as possible.  We tried a few different strategies including stickers and beads on bracelets to keep track of laps, and played fun games like tag and “Running Hangman” where the students guessed a letter and had to run laps if they couldn’t guess a letter in the word.  By the end of the program each girl had come so far with running and friendships, and I can tell that the program impacted them in a positive way!  I think that we have some future runners in my group for sure, and I look forward to seeing a few of them on race courses soon!


Overall, I HIGHLY recommend working with GOTR!  I loved so much about it (you can check out more about what to love about the program in this post), but here are my favorite parts:

  • Working with 3rd-5th grade girls is so much fun!  I’ve been working with middle/high schoolers for the last few years, but I have a special spot in my heart for elementary girls.  They are going through so many changes – they are moving from being little kids to being tweens and are about to enter a really difficult and scary period of their lives, and I loved that I was able to help make a difference at such a critical time.
  • The program was so positive!  Even when talking about something like gossip, we didn’t criminalize it – we discussed strategies to avoid it and things you could do to end the problem.  There was never a lesson that made girls feel bad about their situations, and we always had time to reflect and for the girls to ask us questions or get feedback on tough situations they were facing.
  • They introduced running as a fun activity, and made it into a team sport.  I hated running as a kid and avoided the mile run in high school whenever possible, but this program took out all the competition and made it not only fun, but something you could do with your friends.  I don’t think I ever saw a girl run a lap alone!
  • Meeting my co-coach and our teacher host for the year. They are both avid runners and I loved getting to know them and learn from them throughout the season. We’ve already run together outside GOTR a few times, and we have more plans for trail running this summer!
  • The girls got to celebrate in a big way.  Why run laps twice a week if you’re not going to eventually run a race with all that training?  I loved that the girls had a special section at a local 5k where they could get shirts, have their hair braided/colored, and then run with other athletes from the community.  They all got medals at the end and they looked so proud!


I’m not sure if I’ll ever have the chance to be a coach again because it did take up a lot of my time and I’m not sure what my work schedule will look like next year.  But I will be signing up as a Running Buddy for all of their future 5ks and will do whatever I can to continue helping this awesome organization!  After all, Girls on the Run is so much fun!

Do you work with GOTR or another organization that helps promote healthy activities for kids?  Did you like to run when you were younger, and what made you decide to start running?


17 thoughts on “GOTR Season Recap

    1. Haha I love it! Here in Alaska we end earlier than in the Lower 48, but we also start earlier. I’m so looking forward to no lesson planning for the next few months!

  1. Thanks for sharing your GOTR experience. Our GOTR 5K is next Thursday and I am volunteering to be a running buddy! I’ve never been involved and I’m looking forward to it.

    1. It’s so much fun! Their excitement and nervousness is so adorable because you know it’s all going to work out in the end. The finish line experience gave me chills – the girls were all cheering so loud and my runners looked so happy! It was so much fun helping other people finish a race and really get to experience all that support!

    1. Thanks! They really did love it…not all the time (a few days they really whined about running laps so we let them do other stuff) but overall I think they had a blast! 🙂

  2. Congrats, Kristen! I looked into GOTR around Philly and it’s a HUGE program! A little intimidating for me! I started running track in 6th grade and it was a lot of fun. I remember doing things like you described like trying to get beads for all the laps you can run. It definitely helped my self esteem and I look back on it now as something I really cherish in my life, so I know GOTR is a great start for these girls! You are lucky to be a part of it 🙂

    1. It is a huge program! I contacted the main website for Anchorage and then they matched me to a local school based on need. That’s so cool that you got to do that when you were younger! I wish I’d started running before I was 25, it would have been so awesome.

  3. This looks like so much fun! Unfortunately my work schedule isn’t really flexible, so I’m not sure I could make it work. I’d love to be a running buddy for one of their races though!

    1. You should look into it! It’s just a few hours on a weekend so it’s definitely doable. And so much fun!

  4. I love Girls on the Run for the reasons you listed! I was the same way as a kid-I faked injuries to get out of running in PE. Now, of course, I love it and think it’s so cool that we’re able to show these young girls that running and exercise isn’t a punishment. It’s something fun that we can do with friends and accomplish things we can be proud of.

    1. Yes! Running was a punishment in high school field hockey! I threw up once after running really hard at practice one day and I refused to run again for years. Now I love it…and I haven’t thrown up since then haha.

  5. I love this recap! I am raising money for GOTR in Maryland while I train for the Marine Corps Marathon. This just got me so fired up. I need to find the time to volunteer with my local GOTR.

    1. That’s awesome! I’m thinking that if I ever run a race for charity, it will be this one. They do such awesome stuff for young girls!

  6. That is so cool that you coach GOTR. Sounds like a wonderful organization sending a great message to the girls! Nice work Kristen!

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