How do you convince fifteen 8 – 10 year old girls to run a Practice 5K?  You make it a PARTY!

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Today’s Girls on the Run lesson revolved around the Practice 5K.  The real community race is on December 3, but it’s good for the girls to see that they can run the entire distance before race day. 


This year’s Practice 5K was even more fun than usual because Coach Kim (who works for Girls on the Run) brought a real water station table.  It made it feel pretty authentic!


The girls had lots of fun chugging the water from the paper cups and enthusiastically throwing the cups to the ground when they were done.


The girls drank so much water that I became very, very nervous that we were going to have a few pukers.  Thankfully, there was none of that.  Whew.


Kim also brought a bucket of orange slices – “Like marathoners eat!” – and the girls had a blast making orange smiley faces as they went around the track.


Another trick I use for the Practice 5K is to mark off each mile with a small prize (rewards work!).  Normally, the girls just get a colored potholder loom (basically, a hair tie) for each lap, and six looms equals one mile.  For the Practice 5K, they ‘cash’ in six looms for a Mardi Gras bead necklace.  Every mile was the ‘Mardi Gras’ mile.


Once they had three necklace, they only had to run one more lap, and then it was time for the GRAND FINISH!  Everyone got to run through finisher’s tape – whether first or last.  Don’t you wish all your runs ended with breaking the tape?  I do!


Some girls finished with friends; others finished alone.


Once they were done, they got a pair of sweet ‘Finisher’s Sunglasses’ and a blower and became responsible for cheering in their teammates or holding the finisher’s tape. 


All in all, EVERYONE finished with more than enough time to enjoy brownies or cupcakes.  One girl finished in about 28 minutes – can you believe it?!  One of the later finishers came up to me afterwards and said, “My mom is going to be so excited that I finished – I didn’t think I could do it.. but I did!” 


A very good day at Girls on the Run, indeed.  Muddy, fun, and happy.


I can’t believe we only have five lessons left.  The season went far too quickly!



  • kathleen @ the daily crumb November 10, 2011, 4:50 pm

    this is so cute! you must be the coach every girl wants to have. let’s be honest, i work better when there’s a reward at the end too 🙂

  • Jen November 10, 2011, 4:50 pm

    This seems like such an amazing event! I wish I had something like that when I was a kid; I probably would have been more willing to start exercising earlier.

  • Sarah @ w30 November 10, 2011, 4:54 pm

    That is so sweet. I love, love, love the top right picture of the girl in party glasses! Question: do you know what it takes to start a local chapter? I know someone in Tulsa, OK who would like to be involved but they don’t have a group. Thanks! 🙂

  • Amanda November 10, 2011, 5:00 pm

    What a great idea to make their practice 5k into a party! And I love what one of your girls said about how her mom was going to be so proud of her, and how she proved to herself that she could do the full run. That’s a pretty big accomplishment and I’m sure the experience will stay with her and boost her confidence moving forward. 🙂

  • Lydia November 10, 2011, 5:02 pm

    This sounds like so much fun. Like so many other people, I really wish there had been an organization like this when I was a kid.

  • Kristie November 10, 2011, 5:08 pm

    Love this! I helped at a set-up water station at one of the practice 5ks by me a few weeks ago, and will be a running buddy for one of the girls on Saturday. SO excited (plus I have knee-high monkey socks to wear)! 🙂

  • Kelly November 10, 2011, 5:08 pm

    After all of your GOTR posts, I looked up the Nebraska chapter and volunteered at the GOTR 5K Oct 30. It was such a great experience! Thanks for the motivation.

    • Caitlin November 11, 2011, 10:03 am

      Yay! Thank you for volunteering.

  • Katie @ Peace Love and Oats November 10, 2011, 5:37 pm

    What a great idea to make it more fun! I’d run for beads too! Although I would not enjoy laps around a track, but that’s probably the safest way to keep track of 15 girls!

  • Liz @ Tip Top Shape November 10, 2011, 5:48 pm

    That looks like such a great program! You did a great job of making little things to motivate them along the way.

  • lauren November 10, 2011, 5:53 pm

    Girls on the Run looks like such a blast! I bet they loved getting the prizes! That’s so great that one of the girls couldn’t wait to tell her mom, clearly this program is making a real difference in the girls’ lives. I love it!

  • Shayla @ The Good Life November 10, 2011, 6:07 pm

    What an awesome way to add fun to the race and have the girls cheer and support each other throughout – so wonderful! 🙂

    In the pic I was hoping to see a slight baby bump but probably too soon… 😉

    • Caitlin November 11, 2011, 10:03 am

      It’s just yucky bloat. 🙁

  • Rachelle November 10, 2011, 6:09 pm

    This is a great idea! I might have to do this with my residents to promote being active! Thank you for this!

  • Alexa @ Simple Eats November 10, 2011, 6:14 pm

    This is adorable, I hope you keep doing this, I’m sure the girls appreciate it so much!

  • Heidi - apples under my bed November 10, 2011, 6:20 pm

    Good on the girls, hearing these posts makes me so happy 🙂 the sunglasses are awesome – such motivation haha! Great work!
    Heidi xo

  • Deva @ Deva by Definition November 10, 2011, 6:21 pm

    This is so adorable! I am running a GOTR 5k in 9 days with a friend and I am so excited! I am sad to say that I am a SLOW runner, but I have been so committed to training for this race. I’ve already run “the distance” twice, and plan to do it again this weekend.

    • Caitlin November 11, 2011, 10:05 am

      Yay! thanks for volunteering with GOTR – they will love you!

  • Bron November 10, 2011, 6:22 pm

    Congratulations on the pregnancy and that’s an awesome way to get the kids motivated! on the subject of Mardi Gras beads I was just wondering if you had seen the documentary “Mardi Gras – Made in China”? Really interesting look into where the beads come and who makes them – thought you might be intrested 🙂 being from NZ Mardi Gras is a foreign concept for me so was extra interesting!

  • Sarah@The Flying ONION November 10, 2011, 6:23 pm

    This is so awesome! Way to go with making running more than about exercise. 😀

  • Mahealani @ Beauty, Brains, and Balance November 10, 2011, 6:50 pm

    What a fun idea! I love that they got their own water table, very official!

  • Carin November 10, 2011, 6:52 pm

    Hahaha – the Hubster’s legs feature on the blog! Come to think of it though, they look very similar to mine… there are lots of benefits to being ginga, but pale legs ain’t one of them!

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin November 10, 2011, 7:00 pm

    You really pulled out all the stops to make this fun for them! I love the glasses that they got at the end! 😀

  • Angela @ MyPinkyToes November 10, 2011, 7:05 pm

    Oooooh this is the cutest and sweetest post, and I just adore what the one little girl said at the end about not thinking she could finish! What great inspiration for anyone of any age!
    I really want to consider coaching Girls on the Run soon. I was a SoleMate over the summer and raised money while I trained for my first marathon! I think it’s a great program and I’d love to be more involved!

  • katie @ KatieDid November 10, 2011, 7:34 pm

    You’re the greatest coach! These girls will always remember these fun practices I’m sure. Don’t you wish we got prizes for every run or gym session we went to?!

  • Sana November 10, 2011, 7:52 pm

    🙂 I don’t think I could even run a 5k when I was that young!

  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) November 10, 2011, 7:54 pm

    I’m not a runner, but I’m sure I would be if I had you as a trainer! What a blast that 5K would be!

  • Emily November 10, 2011, 7:58 pm

    What an awesome party! Girls on the Run is such a great organization!

  • Mindy November 10, 2011, 8:32 pm

    That is SO fun! I hope that one day my schedule allows me to coach for my GOTR chapter!

  • Jamie November 10, 2011, 9:00 pm

    This is so cute!! I love love love the mardi gras miles! I’m sure you made the girls feel triply special for their accomplishment!

  • Luv What You Do November 10, 2011, 9:47 pm

    How fabulous! YOu are so creative!
    I am convinced that mardi gras beads solve everything. I keep a few in my clipboard at work and they have been known to calm a crying baby!

  • Jen November 10, 2011, 10:47 pm

    Ahh! That little girl is wearing an Emory shirt! I get so excited when I see others representing my college 🙂

  • Kristen (inspiredbydooce) November 10, 2011, 11:02 pm

    I love it! I really wish there was Girls on the Run in my area. I’d love to volunteer…

  • Courtney @ The Petite AthlEAT November 10, 2011, 11:15 pm

    Ah, this is so cute!!!

  • Khushboo November 11, 2011, 12:35 am

    This sounds like such a great session- I love how much heart and soul you put into Girls on The Run!

  • Corrie Anne November 11, 2011, 12:54 am

    So fun! I mean, who wouldn’t run for THOSE KINDS OF ACCESSORIES!?!? 🙂

  • Kelly November 11, 2011, 3:33 am

    So cute, I love the owl socks!

  • Christina November 11, 2011, 6:53 am

    Reading your blog introduced me to GOTR, and now I’m in my second season as a coach. We just had our practice 5k last Saturday and I agree with you that it’s the best day! We had girls that were taking “victory laps” and ones who struggled to the finish line, but everyone made it and cheered on their friends. Thanks for introducing me to something that brings me so much joy 🙂

    • Caitlin November 11, 2011, 10:06 am

      That is so sweet 🙂 I’m so glad you love coaching!

  • Jen@FoodFamilyFitness November 11, 2011, 7:33 am

    What an awesome program! What ages do the girls have to be to participate? I have an almost 7 year old and I know she would LOVE something like this!!!

  • Laura November 11, 2011, 7:41 am

    This is so awesome! Love the idea of grabbing the cups of water! Heck, I’d run a 5k around a track just to do that 🙂

  • Amanda November 11, 2011, 8:24 am

    If I had a reward system like this, I might actually get my butt out and run 🙂 What a fun way to motivate!

  • Emily November 11, 2011, 8:44 am

    “Don’t you wish all your runs ended with breaking the tape?”

    I would love it if of my runs ended with breaking the tape 😉

    • Emily November 11, 2011, 8:45 am

      *any* of my runs . . .

  • Jen November 11, 2011, 9:16 am

    Thank you for volunteering and giving back to the community and others. So many bloggers have the time to do it and don’t. Blogging can become a very time-consuming but also narcissistic way of life (after all most bloggers do write and post about themselves and what they ate or exercised) – so supporting others, community work, volunteering is so incredibly important!

    Oh – huge CONGRATS on the pregnancy!

  • Lisa November 11, 2011, 9:18 am

    I love this post – makes me feel so happy and inspired. And, I love the fact taht you included pictures of the girls in a such a respectful way!

    • Caitlin November 11, 2011, 10:07 am

      Their parents sign media releases but I don’t like to put them on the blog until the 5K – otherwise I worry some estranged parent is gonna see them and come kidnap them!!!

  • Logan November 11, 2011, 9:31 am

    Sounds like a great time! I volunteered for Girls on the Run in NYC one year and it was so frustrating that we had to use the tiny cafeteria as our running space. I think the girls still appreciated the experience, it was amazing to see how excited they were to have an adult around who actually wanted to spend time and listen to them.

  • beth November 11, 2011, 10:12 am

    This is really cute. Great idea with the beads and glasses and such!

  • Chelsea November 11, 2011, 11:59 am

    This post is so touching and inspiring! I hope to get involved with such an organization one day in my future <3

  • Amber K November 11, 2011, 1:19 pm

    I about cried when the girl said she was so proud of herself for finishing. This is such a great confidence-building group!

  • Julia H. @ The Petite Spiel November 12, 2011, 3:21 pm

    Those girls must have a BLAST. That’s quite impressive that they run 5ks! Do most of them run the whole thing, or do some run/walk?

    • Caitlin November 12, 2011, 6:49 pm

      We only have one girl who ran the whole thing – most walk/run. That’s good though because of their little legs and joints!

  • Dee November 17, 2011, 2:16 pm

    This looks like so much fun! I wish GOTR would organize 5ks for adults and include all of these fun motivators throughout the course!

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