Things to Consider Before Running in RVA
When I’m getting ready to go on a run or head out for a race, I undoubtedly have a few things I need to think about before I can get a successful run in. Most runners do. For instance, we have to consider the weather and if we are wearing the right layers to accommodate the temperature. We have to think about which route we are going to run – are we going to start from home or drive to the park, are we going to run 3 miles or 5 miles, are we using a Garmin watch or our phone app to track our mileage? We think about if we are going to go solo or if we are calling up our running buddies to join in. And of course the shoes – who can forget the shoes? After all, it is the main piece of equipment a runner will ever need. So we make sure we put on a pair of running shoes that don’t have too many miles on them.
As runners we have quite a few things to consider before heading out on a run – those I’ve listed above and a few more I’m sure! But honestly we are really fortunate to be in a position to have all of those things to consider. And when I say fortunate I’m thinking about more than just the fact that we are fortunate to be physically able to run. That, of course, is true but it’s not what is on my heart at this moment.
You see, I’m a runner. I’ve been running since 8th grade. To be completely honest, I only started running because I didn’t make my middle school basketball team and decided to join the cross country team as a plan B so I would still have something to do. And I’ve been running, in some capacity, ever since. Along the way, I’ve encouraged countless friends and acquaintances to hit the pavement too. I’ve coached a middle school track team and several other run clubs. I ended up at Sports Backers, where I get the opportunity to work on our Kids Run RVA program.
At Kids Run RVA, we are all about turning kids on to the joy of running and being active. We do this by supporting the volunteer-led school and community based kids running clubs that are happening all across our region. Of course we get excited when any school or community is interested in getting their young ones moving but we are particularly focused on increasing opportunities for physical activity in low income communities. This is where I have spent most of my time and effort. It’s where my heart is and it’s where some very real challenges exist. Challenges that make me feel really fortunate to have just a few things to consider before I head out on my habitual run.
Many of the kids that participate in Kids Run RVA run clubs are living in poverty. Some are living in crime ridden neighborhoods. And so many of them are being brought up in a culture that just doesn’t place a high priority on being active.
I don’t say this to place any judgement. I say it to bring awareness and I say it because it’s the truth for so many of our youth. It’s hard to place priority on something that is an option (physical activity) when there are other, and let’s face it – more important – things, which must take priority. Things like putting food on the table. Keeping a roof over your family’s head. Getting enough sleep so you can work your two jobs the next day.
Our youth runners that are living in poverty don’t get the luxury of deciding how many layers to wear or which shoes to put on. The shoes they are wearing may be the only pair they own and they likely don’t have many fitness clothing options. They are just kids and they have decided they want to run.
By being a part of run club, they get exposed to the benefits of physical activity. Their coaches become their role models and the run club becomes a safe place for them to try out running. The healthy choice – to run and be active – becomes the easy choice because the club is held right at their school or right in their neighborhood. It also becomes the fun choice. They get to see their friends and play games that involve running. They get to race other kids and try something new.
Sports Backers’ Kids Run RVA program can provide these youth runners with the proper shoes that they so desperately need. We can offer them the opportunity to come to our events, free of charge, so they get to experience the sense of accomplishment that they so deserve. We can even help pay for the school bus to transport them to and from the event. Through our Kids Challenge program, we can provide kid friendly incentives to keep them motivated along the way. To sum it up, we will do anything we can to break down the barriers that they face and help to celebrate their determination, despite the challenges they may have faced along the way. But we need your help.
We now have over 50 school and community based kids running clubs in the Richmond region. That means there are more kids moving more often! It also means that there are more kids that need our help. So I ask you to add one more thing to your list of considerations before you head out on your next run. Consider if you are able to make a donation to Kids Run RVA or if you are able to help us fundraise. By doing so, you are helping to put shoes on a young runner’s feet. You are helping to get a kid to their first race. You are helping our youth overcome the barriers they face and making it possible for them to experience the joy of running. Click here if you are ready to donate or want to help us fundraise. Want to see Kids Run RVA in action? Check out our video!