I have been running with Team for Kids for the past six years and have been a mentor to new TFK members for the last three. It has been a great experience both because I get to share my own (sometimes painful!) running lessons with like-minded folks but more importantly because I have learned so much from the people I have mentored. What have I learned?
1. Once you have made the commitment, find ways to accomplish it. One of my mentees was from Louisiana, training during a summer that saw daily scorching heat for almost two months. He got up very early each morning - 4:00a.m. - to get his runs in—using a reflective vest & headlamp.
2. Where there is a will there is a way…and there are people willing to help. Another of my mentees was a new mom with a full time job. Each non-working moment spent running was time away from her newborn. Her solution: For shorter runs she placed the baby in a jogging stroller and used water stops to check on the baby and for longer runs used grandma, who lived nearby, and agreed to a `baby pass-off’ as the mom jogged the baby over to her house.
3. Busy people get things done…One of my mentees had a very demanding job and travelled a lot, yet managed to get his weekly runs in by starting out early in the morning. He avoided the power breakfast and ate a nutrition bar when he got back and was able to join the group fresh and sharp for coffee afterwards. He not only maintained his weight and training, he impressed the other business people with his discipline.
4. Support structures are important– Everybody I have mentored has a significant other, child, parent, grandparent, sister, brother, friend—you name it – supporting and cheering them through their training and fundraising. There is nothing quite like running down Fifth Avenue at mile 21 and seeing friendly faces calling out your name. That’s the great thing about TFK. You not only have the support of your own circle of friends but also of your teammates, coaches and those who support TFK.
So remember, just wear your TFK singlet during the marathon, write your name on the front and see the `shout outs’ you get along the route!