Four Life Lessons from Girls on the Run

Tie up your running shoes, stretch your legs, drink some water, and… put on your favorite tutu.Jane Kennedy running the San Francisco Nike Women’s Half Marathon

On May 14, over 1,000 girls will hit the trail at Lake Merced in San Francisco to complete the Girls on the Run of the Bay Area 5K. After ten weeks of training, their hard work will pay off as they cross the finish line to the cheers of their family, friends, and coaches. For these girls, completing a 5K is just the beginning of a life with newfound confidence – ready to pursue their dreams, make healthy choices, and serve their communities. Girls on the Run embraces each girl for who she is and celebrates her individuality.

While most of you reading this aren’t seven to twelve years old, the lessons of Girls on the Run are applicable to people in all seasons of life. Growing up, I wasn’t the most athletic person and I would have rather filled a bowl with mint chocolate chip ice cream than broccoli. When I went to college, I realized that how I treated my body mattered. Being surrounded by unlimited buffets and ice cream sundae bars, I began to lose my energy. I felt sick, sluggish, and exhausted. When my friend suggested that we sign up for a half marathon, it was the motivation I needed to make a major life change. I began running… and honestly, it was hard. But we encouraged one another, and each run (no matter how slow) made me happier, healthier, and stronger. Crossing the finish line at the 2014 Nike Women’s Half Marathon was a major achievement for me, and it sparked a desire to help others experience the same sense of joy and empowerment. That is why Girls on the Run of the Bay Area is my platform, and why I am serving on the 5K committee this spring- so girls throughout the Bay Area will have the chance to cross the finish line and feel limitless.

Girls on the Run rocks because the program incorporates lessons on body positivity, healthy choices, goal-setting, and self-confidence with training. It celebrates the individuality and “sparkle” of each girl, recognizing her unique gifts and preparing her to share them with the world. Much like the Miss America program, it raises girls up to be the best versions of themselves.

Here are four practical life lessons that Girls on the Run can teach us at any age:

  1. Be True to You

    A fundamental tenet of Girls on the Run is the belief that each girl shines when she is authentically and joyfully herself. We are all blessed with different gifts, passions, and talents. Sometimes it’s tempting to hide what makes us different because we are afraid that others might judge us, but it’s precisely through these differences that we can make the biggest impact. Find what you love and boldly chase after it – you’ll inspire others to do the same.Jane Kennedy cheering on a Girls on the Run participant

  2. Community over Competition

    “Empowered women empower women.” This quote resonates with me in so many ways, and I see its truth in girls who participate in Girls on the Run. Comparison is the thief of joy, and the best way to succeed is to surround yourself with inspiring people and run alongside them, without competing. When my friend suggested we run a half marathon, she was encouraging me to rise up and do something I never thought possible. Girls prepare in teams for the 5K event, and even after they finish the race themselves they stay to cheer on their teammates. Nothing is more positive than community!

  3. Have Fun

    Training is hard work. Girls on the Run makes it fun by providing positive reinforcement to encourage girls to push themselves while having a ball. Practices are full of laughter, and energy awards are given out each week to girls who exhibit a positive attitude. No matter what you’re pursuing, when you’re working hard it’s important to have fun. Find ways to make preparation a blast – take a page out of the Girls on the Run book: sparkly stickers, affirmations, and tutus make everything fun.

  4. Look Outward for Self-Confidence

    The easiest way to lose confidence is to focus on yourself. That’s why Girls on the Run teams spend time giving back to the community each season. When we’re drained or self-conscious, the best way to remedy these feelings is to serve others. Being involved in volunteer or non-profit organizations provides a positive outlet to give back! Shameless plug- volunteer here for the Girls on the Run of the Bay Area Spring 5K event!

I hope that these lessons empower you to chase after your dreams with authenticity and joy! Whether it’s a college degree, half marathon, or title, be kind to yourself and celebrate each accomplishment no matter how small. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to try something new because you never know how much it may impact your life!

If you’re interested in volunteering this spring, please visit http://www.gotrbayarea.org to sign up and follow @gotrbayarea and @miss_bay_area on Instagram for more updates!

Thanks for reading,

Jane Kennedy
Miss Bay Area 2017