Never underestimate your own strength. You were born for a purpose and blessed with the power to achieve it.
Running Start is a program that provides women with barriers to fitness with a “Personal Motivator”: other women “who have found strength, confidence, and courage through running and want to pay it forward.” Together, the beginner and the Personal Motivator navigate a 12-week training program, culminating in a 5k race and transforming to a life made stronger through fitness.
After founding women’s athletic apparel brand Skirt Sports, former professional triathlete Nicole DeBoom was asked by women for a different form of help. They wanted to become runners, but didn’t know how to get started. Nicole decided to use her company’s resources to create a unique program for women that would allow them to break down their personal barriers and create new identities for themselves through running.
“There were hundreds of excellent running programs, but they were all missing one important aspect – accountability,” said Nicole. After reading an article about the power of checking in with a guide during fitness programs, Nicole realized that the key to success would depend on the concept of one-on-one mentors; otherwise known as the Personal Motivators.
In 2010, Skirt Sports launched a cause-driven marketing program called Kick Start in which fifteen beginner runners were paired with mentors as they prepared for their first 5k event in Denver. After five successful years, the Skirt Sports Kick Start program branched out on its own as an official 501(c)(3) organization with a new name (Running Start) under the non-profit umbrella.
Since their launch in 2010, Running Start has helped hundreds of women complete their fitness goals while encouraging them to find their own strength, courage, and determination to tackle harder aspects of life.
Nicole developed a unique 12-week program for three levels of goals: walking, run/walking, or running the 5K. Each beginner gets to decide her goal and the Personal Motivator will be there to encourage each woman until the finish line is crossed.
“The 5K is just jumping off point to confidence and inner strength,” said Dawn Miller, board member and Running Start (Northern Colorado) program manager. “I have seen women come in who are frightened to even talk during our first meeting and during the 12 weeks, they grow stronger and more confident in themselves. After the 5K they find out that they can do a lot more things than their mind was telling them they can. I love watching the simple steps of movement forward grow into a more radical self-love campaign. ”
One of Running Start’s graduates, Beth Shields, has been an inspiration to her family, friends, and fellow runners. Here is a snippet of her recent Facebook post that she wrote for Giving Tuesday:
“Running Start provided me support, acceptance and a plan to help me become a walker, and one day, a runner! I followed the plan and checked in with my motivator and pushed myself daily to go further than I did the previous day. It was not easy, and frequently I wanted to give up, but I wanted to live even more.
Crossing the 5K finish line was one of the best days of my life. For the first time in YEARS, I had not only set a goal, I had succeeded! I have lost just over 60 pounds since the beginning of Running Start. I have a long way to go, but I know that I can do this! As a plus sized woman, I have frequently felt left out, rejected, judged and ultimately not accepted because of my weight. Through this program, I have found a welcoming community of women that love and encourage me to be the best I can be. No judgement or rejection here, regardless of the variety of barriers so many of us face!”
On January 1st, Running Start will be opening applications for the 2019 season for the Front Range of Colorado, from Fort Collins to Castle Rock. If you or a woman you know has barriers to fitness, please fill out the application for Beginner here; if you’re a woman who’s already a runner and would like to motivate another woman, fill out the application for Personal Motivator here. Applications for either role must be submitted by January 27, 2019.
Running Start is not only committed to helping women launch into their own fitness goals, but also providing encouragement and community to reach for those personal goals as well.
To learn more information about Running Start, follow this link.