Lessons from Running

Back in December, my friend and I decided to run the Vancouver marathon on May 6. We had been running 10k most weekends, so quadrupling that distance (42.2k) seemed like the next logical step for us overachievers.

We’re starting to pack on the kilometers rapidly. Over the weekend we ran 19k in about 2h15. This was a bit of a game changing run. It was the first one we had to gear up for. We learned we needed to bring electrolyte-replacing water and a gel called Gu to give us a boost before we tired out. Just the fact that we needed to bring supplies made this run more psychologically daunting than the 17k we ran before.

Then came the hills.

Vancouver has inescapable hills.

We tried to be clever and turn off our pr-planned route to avoid them. We couldn’t.  We got disoriented between Point Grey and Shaughnessey and had to pull out the GPS. I learned that when I have a long long way to go, just stick to the path and face whatever comes. At least I’ll be sure I’m headed in the direction I intended.

Training for a marathon is taking commitment (no surprise there). In some ways that’s been quite liberating. In my line of work, there’s always always more to be done. I’m coming off a three year stretch of having to work until I fall off my task chair from exhaustion (a dissertation, first two years full-time teaching, and a textbook will do that). But it’s become crystal clear to me I can’t sustain that frenetic pace. I need time to take care of myself and my marriage and my friendships… and not feel guilty about that. (High levels of guilt for not working is a common side-effect of grad school.) By making runtime mandatory (and with a friend), this marathon is helping me practice choosing to cultivate my whole self,  rather than just me as academic. Oddly enough, making an extreme commitment is helping me learn moderation.

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