I was not a runner, but I ran a marathon back in 2008. It wasn’t something that my husband and I originally planned to do – neither of us were runners (at all), but one day a long-distance friend challenged us to run a half marathon with them. If we could do a half, we could do a full, marathon, right? Ha!

Training was extraordinarily hard and injuries were sustained that regularly set us back. But I remember it so fondly because that time was gold – my husband and I running most of our training runs together, side by side, neither of us runners, but both of us smiling, pushing each other, communicating, laughing. It was a true test of resilience. And at the end of the day – coming across that finish line was the most unbelievable feeling.

I’m still don’t consider myself a runner (I run periodically at best)…but the experience taught me that anyone can run if they set a goal and put their mind to it. And this is one of the main reasons why I started coaching Mini Milers.

Kids seem to join Mini Milers for lots of reasons. Maybe their parents run and want to instill a love of running in their kids. Maybe the kids just have so much energy their parents thought it was a good way for them to get it out before coming home for the evening. But either way, what Mini Milers teaches most kids is that running and exercise isn’t just work – it can be fun. This was the reason why I first signed up my eldest child for Mini Milers – to show her that exercise could be enjoyable, silly, exciting, inspiring.

It’s so much fun to get to know the kids that come through the program, some for a few years before moving on to a new school. For the most part, they are engaged and eager to participate. Even those that don’t seem as into it will show a glimmer of determination now and again when an activity finally appeals to them. Some enjoy games, while others just want to show off how many laps they can do. And man, some of these kids are FAST.

My favorite weeks of the program are when the kids work in teams to achieve a goal and the last week when we invite parents to join in the fun – they work together, while sweating, laughing, and competing with one another. And that is what it’s all about – totally engaged time between parents and children or peers.

This program could not be run without a relatively large team of amazing parent volunteers – it takes a village of caring adults to make it work most efficiently and effectively. If you have the time and opportunity, I hope you’ll join us. Even if you’re not a “runner”, the experience is totally worth it. It is a privilege to bear witness to their journeys as they grow their determination and resilience as runners (or at least “kids who run”). And I get some exercise with my kids in the process.