Moms build up pre-teens with running

By: Lauren Gibbs, The Placer Herald
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One mile at a time, two Rocklin moms hope to boost the confidence of 15 pre-teen girls. In addition to training for a 5K run, coaches Julia Klemin and Leslie Gandy will teach self-respect, healthy living, team building and other life lessons to the group of girls. The program is called Girls on the Run, a nonprofit organization that teaches more than 40,000 girls nationwide annually. Klemin and Gandy will be bringing it to the campus of Valley View Elementary in Rocklin starting Feb. 7 — the first Placer County program location. The duo will teach girls in grades third through fifth for 12 weeks, two times a week after school. The program will conclude with a 5K run for the girls with an area run in Sacramento. The organization’s motto, “I belong just the way I am,” is one of the aspects that sold Klemin to get involved. “It was just a program that just spoke to me,” she said. Klemin knows first-hand the benefits running can have on a person, not just physically, but emotionally. She began running during a boot camp class she signed up for to get healthy. Running was one aspect of the class and Klemin didn’t let her I’m-not-a-runner mentality get in the way. Since then she has run six half-marathons, including the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco. “It’s a very grounding experience for me,” Klemin said. “I run to be at peace. It’s when I have the most clarity.” Klemin’s daughter even got on board with running and Klemin said she saw an immediate change in her 13-year-old daughter’s self-confidence. It also gave her a feeling of empowerment. Part of the program will be aimed at building a sisterhood with the girls, becoming motivated to work toward a common goal and talking with each other about issues they all face. Lessons include topics such as dealing with body image and the media, resisting peer pressure, making healthy decisions and contributing to the community. For Gandy, a mother of boys only, she also saw the benefits of the program immediately. “I don’t have daughters, but I know how much I would have benefited from it,” she said. Gandy became a runner in her 20s and has since run many half-marathons and two marathons. “We’re moms who have a love of running,” Gandy said. “It’s always been a way to feel more grounded, more myself.” And the two hope to help other young women see the benefits to the activity by bringing the program to Rocklin. Girls on the Run in Rocklin will start Feb. 7 at Valley View Elementary School and run for 12 weeks. Girls in grades third through fifth are welcome to join. The program costs $130 and includes race registration, a T-shirt, healthy snacks and other materials. Scholarships are also available. For more information, go to