What makes Black Girls RUN! run? Our Black Girls RUN! Ambassadors. With more than 190 ambassadors across the country, these women are responsible for bringing BGR! awesomeness to cities across the country! Not only that, they inpsire women in their community to hit the pavement and rep BGR! every dang day! Want to know more about the ambassadors in your city? Welcome to our new “Meet Your Ambassadors” series! Each week we will feature ambassadors from our groups to help you learn a little more about who they are and why they are passionate about the work they do!
Dionne Brown: I joined BGR in January of 2012 at the suggestion of a friend/coworker to help with my weight loss challenges. I attended a Couch to 5k program taught by my Co-Ambassador, Djuanna Brockington which got me interested in racing. Even though I have run several races since that time, including two marathons, I still consider myself a novice runner with so much more to learn.
Djuanna Brockington: I was already a runner before joining BGR October 2011, but I was so excited to find a group of female runners who looked like me that I had to become a part of the movement. Once I joined BGR, I realized how important it is to encourage those who are interested in running but may not know where or how to start, and thus started the first "newbie" group for Charleston.
How do you motivate the members on the page to get started?
Djuanna: "Your race, your pace" is the phrase that pays for me. I often encourage new members to start where they are- walking, wogging, jogging, whatever. I think it's important that they hear how others have struggled to get going, keep going, or get back in the game after a setback. We also try to have at least one WBYR or beginner runner group every 3 months so that women can start with a group that they may feel more comfortable with.
Dionne: By letting the ladies know that everyone starts somewhere, even the people completing longer distance races. Reminding them that their focus should not be on how fast they're going in the beginning but more on the fact that they are going. Any step farther than the day before is considered progress.
Use one word to describe your BGR! City?
Best advice you would give to new runners?
Djuanna: It is so important to find out what YOU love about running, and do it for that reason: solitude, racing, sightseeing, weight loss, improved mental health, etc. If you don't find something you love about running, you won't stick with it.
Dionne: Don't give up on yourself when you think it's too hard. You're worth all your effort.
How you encourage advanced runners to get to the next level?
Djuanna: While we support all of our runners in their efforts, we have not yet moved beyond acknowledging the training and races that our advanced runners are doing. We definitely need some work in this area.
Dionne: That group for us is a very small population so we basically champion their efforts as they conquer new goals.
How did you feel the moment you left your first BGR! run?
Djuanna: I remember just feeling happy and joyful that I had the opportunity to run with other like-minded women and knowing that we were debunking myths. I now had proof, other than myself, that black women do indeed run.
Dionne: Totally unsure of myself and my abilities. I am a former athlete but running more than the length of a basketball court was something new for me. I wasn't so sure I would ever run a 5k.
What do you say to ladies right before a big race?
Djuanna: I often remind the ladies to focus on the fellowship and the fun and that they already have the race in the bag- just because they showed up.
Dionne: Most of racing in my opinion is mental so I just remind them that they have trained for this, give them some helpful race day tips then let them know that they CAN do this.