Culture

How to Understand, Support and Encourage Young Female Runners

August clinic will educate and empower coaches to help female runners navigate puberty.

We all remember that coach from our high school, youth track or college days.

The coach who believed when we doubted;
The coach who lifted us up when we had a bad race;
The coach who challenged us to push through;
The coach who told us we could when we thought otherwise.

Marie Davis Markham and Robyn McGillis remember that coach.

These coaches are what inspired Davis Markham and McGillis to start Wildwood Running. Once, they were athletes looking up to these coaches, now they strive to be those coaches. McGillis is Head Girls Cross Country and Track and Field Coach at Central Catholic High School in Portland, Davis Markham is assistant cross country and track and field coach at Lincoln High School in Portland, Oregon.

Having been to many running clinics over the years, as life long runners and now coaches to young female runners, they identified a need for a clinic that was centered on the young female athlete. Wildwood Running’s goal is to empower, guide, educate and connect coaches who impact young female runners.

“We feel it’s important that young females are supported, encouraged and understood during a very important time in their life,” says Davis Markham. “The most important factor in a young athlete’s life is her coach. If we can support the coaches by helping them understand how girls may navigate puberty, we will in turn, be helping all those girls.”

With this as a goal, Wildwood Running will present a clinic focusing on the young female distance runner, to be held virtually August 7–8, 2020.

Keynote speaker will be PodiumRunner columnist Melody Fairchild, an inspiring runner who moved from young phenom runner to impactful youth coach. Fairchild’s journey was not without its challenges and it is within those challenges where she learned some of the most important lessons that guide her now.

“Trust the process — it is not linear,” Fairchild says. “The dips and valleys are what make you more fully human, which is the goal of living, after all.” Fairchild believes the qualities of a great coach include: “Patience. Deep listening. Awareness of the whole person — physical, mental, emotional. If the goal is only to run fast/reach specific time goals, you are missing the point. Use running as an opportunity to more intimately work with and learn about your body.”

The clinic will focus on aspects of puberty, mental health, confidence, nutrition, menstrual health and more, with the goal to give coaches the tools to coach to all female distance runners to be happy and healthy.

“As a coach, it is our responsibility to provide the best possible experience for each individual athlete. In order to do this we must invest in them as people,” says Eric Dettman, Head Coach at Lincoln High School in Portland, Oregon whose team made their first NXN birth in 2020. “ In my short time as a head coach I’ve found that the athletes who have invested fully into the program are the ones who feel cared about, who have a purpose, and who feel that they are a part of something that is bigger than themselves. This stems from coaching the whole athlete, and not just focusing on the outcome.”

“Our clinic speakers were chosen to support the Wildwood mission of coaching the whole female athlete,” says McGillis. “We need to understand the female athlete mentally and physically because her journey is unique. Each speaker will provide tools and perspective to empower, guide, educate and connect coaches who impact young female runners.”

In addition to Fairchild, speakers will include:

  • Lisa Denike, pediatrician focused on the science of girls going through puberty
  • Elizabeth Carey, Co-Author of Girls Running and coach
  • Eric Dettman, Head Track and Field and Cross Country Coach for Lincoln HS in Portland, OR
  • Kara Bazzi, Mental health therapist with expertise in eating disorders
  • Maria Dazolt, Registered Dietitian, running coach, and professional trail and mountain runner
  • Jay Johnson, coach, author, and camp director with expertise in strength and mobility
  • Charlotte Lettis Richardson, Bend XC coach and distance track coach with over 45 years of coaching experience, Co-Founder of Women’s Running Coaches Collective
  • Bob Williams, All American Steeple Chaser at Oregon, coach of all ages of runners for over 40 years, currently coaching at Wilson HS in Portland, Oregon

The clinic will be delivered over Zoom, or at one of a few small “town hall” gatherings in Portland, Seattle, Montana, Bend or LA.

Tickets are available at www.wildwoodrunning.com.