Things that I’ve learned over four seasons as a Girls on the Run coach:


Kids will do nearly anything for stickers.

All you have to do is be yourself.  It’s always good enough.

Always bring more napkins than you think you need…

… And in case you don’t, sleeves are an excellent substitute.

Elementary school children are very often smarter than most adults.

If you’re bringing a treat, make sure all 15 look the same or you’ll have a fight over the ‘special’ one.

Everyone loves the freedom to occasionally act silly, no matter what their age.

If you say, “All the cool people wear sunscreen,” kids will put it on.  Otherwise, there’s no hope. 

Almost anyone can train to run a 5K in 12 weeks.

Sometimes you have to get the ‘sillies’ out before you can have a serious conversation.

Issues that 3rd graders deal with are eerily like problems you encounter in adulthood.

Leaping high fives are infinitely better than regular high fives.

Orange slices make workouts that much more bearable.

It’s possible to command respect and still be loved.  Just treat others as you would want to be treated.

Popsicles will melt if you put them in a cooler.

You can never have enough band-aids in a first aid kit.

Kids really like to sign their names on things.

Everyone loves a good cheer.

Volunteering with your spouse strengthens your relationship in ways you can’t imagine.

It’s not “Indian-style” anymore – it’s “Cross-Cross Applesauce.”

Children really aren’t that scary.  In fact, they’re pretty darn amazing.


Today was the Girls on the Run 5K – the celebration of 12 weeks of training, learning, and growing.  Every 5K seems bittersweet because it marks the end of a season, but this one was particular rough for the Husband and I because it was our last season coaching (for a while) because of the baby.  I’ll miss GOTR so much!


Our 5K started like them all – we met at our designated spot and signed each other’s t-shirts.


Before the start, the girls got their “Happy Hair” done (spray-painted pink and green), played games, stretched, and hula hooped.  I tried to hula hoop but was an epic failure.  The bump got in the way.


Never going to happen.


We also pinned on the girls’ bib numbers – at Girls on the Run 5Ks, everyone is #1 (it’s technically an ‘event,’ not a race, and it’s untimed).


Normally, as a coach, you run with a girl who doesn’t have a running buddy (usually a parent).  At 8.5 months pregnant, I’m not really up for running a 5K so I opted to stay on the sidelines and take pictures of the girls.  I was a bit sad that I didn’t get to run the race with a girl.  It worked out well, though, because Husband / Coach Kristien ran with one girl, Coach Katy ran with another, and all the other girls had buddies.


Ready… set… go!


Only 21 minutes after the start, the first girl came tearing around the corner.  She didn’t even look like she was working that hard!  I’m jealous of her abilities.  Is it okay to be a jealous of a nine year old’s running skills?!


Even though the 5K isn’t competitive, it’s pretty cool to see one of ‘my’ girls finish in the front.  Last season, one of my girls actually finished first.  This year, we had a top 10 finisher – pretty impressive considering that over 3,000 girls race.


Soon, Coach Kristien and his girl appeared – I was pretty impressed the Hus had kept up with her.  She is fast, and he was pretty nervous about slowing her down!  


A bit later, Coach Katy and her girl came in.


We watched the rest of our team finish – I was so proud of everyone!  Not only did they all do well, but they all finished with big smiles on their faces.  And then… we said our goodbyes.  We’re going to organize a frozen yogurt party sometime this summer so we can all reunite. 


Coaching has been such a wonderful experience for both the Husband and I.  Not only do we genuinely enjoy the girls’ company, but we both feel like GOTR has given us so much confidence as future parents.  We would be so much more nervous to become a mom and a dad if we had never coached GOTR.


If you want to learn more about Girls on the Run, check out their website and this post –> How You Can Involved with GOTR


Whether serious or silly, what lessons have you learned from kids?  They know so darn much. Winking smile



  • Katie @ Peace Love & Oats May 12, 2012, 12:26 pm

    21 minutes?!!? Haha I’m jealous of her! Looks like a great event! I actually just signed up to be a Solemate for the Chicago Marathon, I’m so excited to help fundraise for this amazing program! I would never have heard of it without you!

  • Army Amy* May 12, 2012, 12:36 pm

    Yeay for another great season in the books. I’m sure it was hard to say goodbye. I’m a 7th grade English teacher, so I spend 180 days a year with 12 year olds. My kiddos teach me a ton! Mostly they show me what it means to forget. They move on from things so quickly. They can fight one day, and be best friends the next. They can get in trouble in my class, and then tell me they love me. I wish I could be more like that!*

  • briana May 12, 2012, 12:52 pm

    I needed this this morning. Thanks for a thoughtful and inspiring post!

  • Molly @ RDexposed May 12, 2012, 12:53 pm

    I like how they all are “1” on their race bibs!

  • Sam @ Fit for My Fork May 12, 2012, 12:54 pm

    You’re amazing to still be helping out at 8.5 months pregnant, even if you didn’t run! This program sounds amazing too. I wish I’d have something like this as a kid, everyone looks so happy and like they are really enjoying themselves. Congratulations on a successful season. I’m sure you’ve made a very positive difference in the lives of the girls, who will hopefully grow up to be confident, strong young women. You’ve helped to teach them that fitness can be fun, and I think often that is left out of school phys. ed. curriculum (it was sure left out of mine!).

    I wish there was a GOTR chapter in Calgary. I’d definitely think about starting one (if you can do that – I couldn’t find much information on their website about starting from scratch) but I work full-time and couldn’t commit to the organization it would require. I’ll have to keep an eye out, because there are two in Ontario already. Maybe they’ll move West soon! 🙂 Thanks for introducing me to this!

  • Samantha May 12, 2012, 1:16 pm

    OK, the hulu hooping with the belly is hilarious!

    I actually do learn a lot from kids, especially that 7 – 12 year old range. They are super smart. 🙂

  • Vikki May 12, 2012, 1:28 pm

    I said this on Facebook and I’ll say it here too. Bigger hoops are easier.

  • Laura @ She Eats Well May 12, 2012, 1:41 pm

    That hula-hooping pic of you is amazing! Way to go!!! I really admire your commitment to staying active during your pregnancy.

    I agree too…kids really do know so much. I feel like kids can pick up on things going on in adult’s lives, too. I like when a youngin will just blurt something out because he or she has no filter. Always good for a laugh.

  • Jamie @ Don't Forget the Cinnamon May 12, 2012, 2:01 pm

    21 minutes!!!! That girl sure has a bright future in running ahead of her!

  • Rebecca May 12, 2012, 2:44 pm

    My dad will sometimes tell me that he gets passed by little kids in races–a lot of them are in track at school, I think. Or if they’re not, they should be. Hah. 🙂

    One thing I learned from working with junior high kids at church was about prayers. There was one particular girl in my group who would volunteer to pray more than the others, and one night she thanked God for the pizza guy. At first I thought it was weird or silly, but hey. Nothing is too small or random. We all giggled about it after, but it was a good reminder.

  • Annette@FitnessPerks May 12, 2012, 3:14 pm

    What a great event!! My little sis did GOTR and I went to one of their practice 5Ks –such a fun thing to do!

  • Sophie @ threetimesf May 12, 2012, 4:04 pm

    Wowzer, i wish i could runa 21 minute 5K!

    I’m sad that the GOTR season is over and we can’t read about it anymore for a while – well done for being part of such an amazing thing! 🙂

  • Bec May 12, 2012, 4:24 pm

    I work in an elementary special needs classroom. We learn new stuff from our kids every single day 🙂

  • Alison May 12, 2012, 4:40 pm

    I absolutely LOVE the idea of this group! Such a great idea.

  • Hayley @ Running Down the Runway May 12, 2012, 4:54 pm

    This looks like such an incredible event and something I would love to get involved in! Is this nationwide?? I’m from the Boston area!

  • Carly May 12, 2012, 5:06 pm

    Great recap Caitlin. I was 100% inspired by you to become a GOTR coach, and as of today finished my first season. It has been such an incredible experience. As I crossed the finish line with my buddy I had tears in my eyes- so happy, proud, and fascinated by their abilities. Thank you for promoting this program and for everything that you do!

    • CaitlinHTP May 13, 2012, 11:20 am

      Thank you so much for volunteering!

  • jen May 12, 2012, 5:52 pm

    Caitlin I LOVE and want your pants! Where are they from? Thanks!

  • Maren May 12, 2012, 6:56 pm

    If you have something they really like, they will remember you by it. My friend’s little girl, Madi, who I rarely see, always wants to see me when I come to town because she remembers my parents have cats!

    Also, my dad’s co-worker’s son always goes straight to my dad’s office because he knows he has candy!

    My sister had her 5k for GOTR today too! I am hoping to be involved again in the fall or next spring!

  • Samantha May 12, 2012, 7:20 pm

    Probably more ‘serious’ than you’re looking for but I’ve learned to let my worries, fears, inhibitions go. I work with kids daily, both as a Cub Scout Pack Chair and a kids yoga instructor. They’ve helped me see that it’s ok, and fun, to just let go and not care so much about how we look, appear, feel. It’s ok to fall as long as you get back up again (one of our biggest ‘takeaways’ in kids yoga). And laughing is ALWAYS a good thing to do!

  • Blair May 12, 2012, 8:42 pm

    I’m helping at my local GOTR 5k tomorrow. It’ll be my first time actually seeing the girls in action, I’m pretty excited!

    • CaitlinHTP May 13, 2012, 11:21 am

      I hope you had fun!!!

  • Chelsea May 12, 2012, 8:46 pm

    Fact most kids will say “I’m not thirsty right now.” But when the water fountain suddenly makes you stronger and faster they all want to chug some water hahaha.

    I coach gymnastics 😉

  • Kate May 12, 2012, 9:12 pm

    Looked like such a fun day!! My girls say criss cross applesauce, cross cross applesauce made me laugh!

  • Lindsey May 12, 2012, 11:59 pm

    GOTR sounds like such a great organization! Thanks for sharing it with us!

  • Allison@commitcomplete May 13, 2012, 12:56 am

    I usually volunteer as a running buddy for GOTR. The end-of-season races are definitely the most rewarding 5Ks I’ve ever participated in.

  • Hillary May 13, 2012, 7:56 am

    I really do love the idea of the GOTR program!

    I’m a teacher, so I feel like I get to learn from my kids on a daily basis (cheesy, but true). The biggest lesson I think they’ve taught me is that trust and respect must be mutual. You cannot force a child to trust or respect you just because you are an older authority figure. Those things must be earned, and they must be mutual.

  • Michal May 13, 2012, 10:28 am

    All of your GOTR posts have inspired me. I’ve been looking for something to volunteer with in my community, and I found out we have a GOTR group. I’m helping with their practice 5k today and going to be a buddy at their official 5k next weekend!

    • CaitlinHTP May 13, 2012, 11:22 am

      Thank you so much. I hope you have a blast!

  • Alett May 13, 2012, 7:04 pm

    I loved reading about your 5k.

    Like you said, the 5k is so bittersweet. I miss seeing the girls from our group. I miss how they made me laugh 🙂

    Happy mother-to-be day 🙂
    Well technically you are a mother to Maggie & James so Happy Mother’s day!!

    p.s. we are going to the veterinary behaviorist tomorrow for help with Riley the JRT

  • Lacey @ Lake Life Blog May 13, 2012, 10:03 pm

    Just an odd queston from a barren b…but why quit GOTR just because you’ll have a kid?

    • CaitlinHTP May 14, 2012, 7:54 am

      It’s a big time commitment – 5 hours a week – and I don’t know if I’ll have the childcare to support me doing it, especially at first (or if I’ll be willing to leave the baby with someone at that point).

  • Laura is Undeterrable May 14, 2012, 1:04 pm

    Random thought, but look at their form! I never look like that when I run. Maybe that’s why I don’t run 21 min 5ks?

    I definitely need to get involved with GOTR.

  • Heidi - Apples Under My Bed May 16, 2012, 1:36 am

    aw! warm fuzzies, love this! what a great experience for you all 🙂
    Heidi xo

  • Kristina May 31, 2012, 12:04 pm

    I work with kids every day at an inner city elementary school. They all L-O-V-E to help me with my various projects. It’s a special privilege for them to be able to do so, and I swear if they could literally light up like a Christmas tree when I ask them to help, they would.

    Anyway, one day a few students were helping me distribute some things to classrooms around the school and as we were walking, the conversation went like this:

    Student: “Miss Kristina, how old are you?”
    Me: “Well, I just had a birthday, and I turned 55!” (I’m actually 24, and most people think I’m in the neighborhood of 18-20. I just really love pulling their legs.)
    Student: “Daaaang!!! You don’t look like you’re 55!!! What do you use, some of that anti-wrinklin’ cream?!”

    I died. They are so genuine and funny. They make my day. Every day.

    Thanks for always sharing your GOTR stories! I’ll be a running buddy for our GOTR 5k next Thursday. Fingers crossed that the girl doesn’t pulverize me, and I can actually be somewhat motivating!

  • Emmalinda June 2, 2012, 12:21 am

    I have learned that it’s hilarious to have a kid guess your age. I’m 27, but I get guesses anywhere from 16 to 57. Kids love to help adults. I have asked numerous kids to help me with certain tasks (I’m a teacher) and they always jump right in–especially the ones who are sometimes hard to reach/get to know. I also love that kids often say things just to see if you’re paying attention.

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