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Sammy Carr

Sammy Carr

GOTR continues to empower alumni, Deanna Payne

Group of girls posing for a picture at the 5K.

Deanna Payne participated in Girls on the Run as an elementary school student in Northern Virginia. Continue reading to learn how, through Girls on the Run, Deanna found the importance of “keeping pace” (aka finding balance) at and away from practice and how she empowered her coach to accomplish a difficult task. 

“Girls on the Run was one of the first extra curricular activities I joined while in Elementary School. I wasn’t particularly outgoing during those years, but through Girls on the Run I was able to find my first sense of community. Seems odd to say, since running can be a very independent activity, but it’s one of the first places my confidence began to bloom and I began making true friends.

I clearly remember my coaches running beside us during practices, or encouraging us to finish strong. Eventually, I found people to run beside, and used their strength to push myself further than I could have thought possible.

I recall during one of the races we participated in, I caught up with one of our coaches. Together, we ran the final leg of the race and at the very end she thanked me for pushing her- I didn’t realize I could have that sort of impact on someone else. I was so proud of what we’d accomplished together.

I certainly was not the fastest or strongest runner in the group, but I did eventually learn how to find a pace that I was comfortable with maintaining, and figured out when it was appropriate for me to push myself or slow down. My stamina grew the more I continued to run and listen to my body, and in doing so I became more aware of its capabilities.

I now take that same mentality of knowing when to press on or slow down into my everyday life. Some weeks I can give 110%, things come more naturally, and I’m on that ‘runner’s high’. Other weeks, I’m more patient and gentle with myself, and focus more on stretching and recovery. By listening more to my body, I can better anticipate its needs and I’m less likely to burnout.

Girls on the Run will always have a special place in my heart, and I’ll always be grateful for the lessons I took away from that community.”

We are sending out a huge thank you to Deanna for sharing her story. Has Girls on the Run impacted you as a participant, coach, volunteer or parent? We want to hear your story! Send us an email at to share your experience. 



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We inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running. Non-profit girl empowerment after-school program for girls.

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