CB is a teacher in the great state of Colorado. She and her husband most recently moved from the depths of Houston’s heat to ice town USA. She is a big time runner who not only runs marathons, but races longer than that. I taught CB while teaching at a private school in North Little Rock from 2000 – 2004; CB was easily a favorite of mine. She was a National Merit semi-finalist and she performed very well while taking my AP European History course. We tend to chat a lot about running, politics, and beer. I ran this as a cross post at The Professor, too. Here are her thoughts and questions to me.
CB: What’s the deal with people who want to run just because they like running? September through December I hated it the whole time. The second I signed up for a race, though, boom. Big turnaround in my attitude and big jump in my weekly miles. Were you that same way before you started really working on your Boston goals? I wish I could just be casual about it and maintain enough miles to do a marathon occasionally if I feel like it, but I just don’t enjoy it if I don’t have a specific end in mind.
EC: I started running back in graduate school. Back then it was more to stay in shape and watch my weight; however, after slowly running for a period of time, I could not help but notice the rise of my competitive juices. I still enjoyed running, but I felt that if I was going to run, I wanted to see how good I could get. My initial purpose for running slowly started to change. I increased my miles and attempted to focus on training and not running. But, that would not come to fruition until 3 years ago. Even while teaching you (CB) at CAC, I was always a step away from injuring myself; I was pretty reckless then. And, sure enough, I did just that. Developed an injury that would not go away.
Today I have discovered that I do not like running for the sake of running. Much like you, I am motivated by a goal. As soon as I sign up for a race, I am focused and ready to train – not run. I like to plot out my races well in advanced. The months of September through December are prime months for me. I try to get a fall marathon and at least 1 half-marathon in during this period. Knowing this forces me to discipline myself and think more about training and less about running. This sounds bad, but there are a number of day in which I just do not like running. I have come to see running as a job at times; it is what I must do not if I want to do it. I have found that this is the primary difference between running and training. It is too easy to quit and not run. That is less of an option when training since each workout build over a period of time. Back in 2008 I aimed to be really good. I am still working toward the point of being really really good. I do believe I will be there. Getting into Boston is a logical goal for being a competitive runner; I like the changes recently made for qualifying for the Boston Marathon. It means that I cannot get comfortable. Of course I am not too concerned about that. My goals are pretty steep. That is why I train. I must do more than just run.
CB: Second of all, what do your students think about your running? I feel like I’ve connected with kids who might not have liked me as much otherwise, especially at Lamar, where I posted my workouts in the classroom and gave them regular reports. I’ve even had a couple of former students from Lamar who facebooked me about marathons they were training for. One of them was a girl who was overweight in high school, so that was really cool. I would like to see stats on the obesity rate among high school teachers because I would be surprised if it’s not even higher than the national average. I’ve read maybe a few articles about student obesity affecting academics, but I want to know how teacher’s level of physical fitness affects the classroom.
EC: Well, my running is the topic of a number of conversations. Some students are amazed at the time and miles I devote to doing it. I have found my colleagues to be the most curious at times. Many still struggle to comprehend what I do and why I do it. Students, on the other hand, find my running to be pretty exciting. They ask a lot of basic questions about running due to their lack of knowledge; I am sure you get some of that. I do not post my workouts; however, they do have access to my training blog. A few of them swing by to see what I am doing. During the Boston Marathon last April, a number of students followed me via the Internet. The BAA posted times at various points. The challenge faced on my campus is that students have no sense of a diet. Many eat poorly; we do not offer a P.E. class. Credit is earned by joining a gym or by participating on a team for a semester.
Though not runners, I do have a number of colleagues who participate in Cross-fit. They are pretty committed to this task. I am helping a few teachers on my campus train and get ready for up coming races. One of my colleagues could not run 3 miles just a few years ago; she now has a half-marathon time of 2:04. That is very impressive. I have also encouraged them to seek out coaching – as I have done; I am blessed in that I do not have to figure out what to do or how to train. That is taken done for me. My task is to execute my training.
CB: Do you think you are better teacher because you run?
EC: It has helped. In the past all I did was work. I focused on my research, my teaching, and the number of things I had on the stove at once. Now, I feel much more recharged and ready for a new day. Running has added much needed variety to my days. It has slowed that sense of burnout I felt creeping in a few years ago. Then, I started questioning if I should just go get a PH.D and focus on writing or if I needed to change locations. Now, I am happy to be teaching. I enjoy it. Running gives me more time to reflect on what went well and not so well in class; it allows me to edit a paper in my head that I would like to deliver or publish. It also helps me think about a different approach to teaching a particular subject. I think about running a lot. In truth, I like training more than I like racing. I try to limit the number of races I do in a year. I want to spend more time focusing on training for a particular race.