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GOTR Coaches Speak Out: “Put a little GO-sy in your Mosey!”

March 24, 2010

Today’s Coaches Speak Out series features guest contributor Cathleen Balantic, coach at Parkside Elementary in Atlanta. The GOTR Atlanta Spring 2010 season is in its fifth week, and will culminate on May 1 with the GOTR Atlanta 5K.

At Parkside, we’ve been reiterating to our girls that they should simply do the best they can, take walking breaks when they need to, and listen to their bodies. Sometimes, however, we sense that they might just need a little push to realize their potential, and it’s so much easier to keep ‘em running when we’re out there modeling how fun it can be.

It was starting to get hot, and the girls were starting to get tired. Little did these ladies know they were in for a fun-running sneak-attack!

Here are a few of the spontaneous ‘fun-running’ sneak-attacks that have emerged at Parkside GOTR over the past couple of practices:

Skipping Battles – Last week, every time I caught up to a girl who seemed to be losing focus, I challenged her to a skipping race – sometimes the races panned out where all of us were skipping, and sometimes it was just me skipping against a girl who was sprinting. Holy cow. I tried my best, but apparently I’m not as coordinated as I imagine myself to be – it is hard to outskip elementary school girls. One girl counseled that my skip could be improved with better horizontal coverage (“Coach Cathleen, your skip goes too high, but not too far!”)

 “If you’re happy and you know it… (run around!)” – During the workout for the Comfortable/Uncomfortable Emotions lesson, one of the girls started idly singing the “If You’re Happy and You Know It” song. Coach Bobbie Chaz caught onto this diversion in short order, and we began inventing active verses for the group to perform as they ran: “If you’re happy and you know it, do a dance!” “If you’re happy and you know it, spin around (touch the ground, blow a kiss, jump real high…).” Soon, the girls were adding in their own workout-flavored verses: “If you’re tired and you know it, take a breath!” “If you’re thirsty and you know it, get a drink!” Before long, Coach Rosemary was giving the one-more-minute signal and the girls, giddy and giggling from all of the “Happy” verses, had launched into their final lap.

Apologies for the blurriness – This Parkside superstar and I were too busy skipping, dancing, and twirling to pause for a real photo opp.

Kissing Cones – During the silent workout for the Gratitude lesson, I started quietly blowing kisses to the cones stationed around the field. Every cone I passed got a “kiss” of thanks for motivating me to keep chugging along. As I trotted around the field, I noticed that a few girls seemed to be struggling with the silence and lack of structured activity for the workout, and had accordingly reduced the pace to an apathetic stroll. In whispers, I recruited a few of them for cone-thanking patrol. “Quick, let’s go thank this cone! Alright, now let’s go thank that cone!”  Since this sliced the forward motion into mentally manageable chunks, that ambling crawl they’d employed in prior minutes shifted immediately into a more inspired pace for the remainder of the workout.

Songs, dances, little games – all of it helps keep things fresh for the girls. Even so, it appears that the most important thing to keep them going is the simple process of being out there doing laps right at their sides. Even if there are no frills and bells and whistles in the way we go about it, it seems that whenever one of us trots up behind a girl who’s been walking, she immediately kicks it into another gear so that she can match pace to swap stories, lift-ups, and thoughts. Pure and simple, like running itself!

Lap counter traffic jam! Once the girls hit their stride, Coach Markus had to hurry to keep up with their laps.


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