Thursday, May 22, 2014

Run, Forrest, RUN!

Saturday, May 17th, the Ogden Marathon (Utah's first marathon of the season) was held. Several of my friends do the whole or half-marathon every year, and honestly, I admire them. (I do it from the comfort of my bed each year, but I admire them just the same.)
I'm not much of a runner, and I will probably never become a marathoner. 5Ks, hiking, biking, walking, and swimming are more my thing.  And at this time of year, I'm facing another type of finish line anyway. See, I teach kindergarten, which means I transform Neanderthals into fully-functional first-graders. You'd think it would get easier this close to the finish line (we're into the single digits now!), but I work with the strange breed of animal called humans, who even though they know the rules and how to behave in practically any school situation, still push the envelope. At this time of year, I find myself frazzled and counting down the days more eagerly than the children.  On the up-side, I'm not alone.  This happens to not only educators, but writers, businessmen and women, and all the rest of humanity who deal with looming deadlines of one type or another.  In honor of them and the Ogden Marathon, I offer my tips for runners of all types of life's races:

Stay hydrated:  There's little worse than having nothing to give to friends, family, students, neighbors, and coworkers because you haven't taken care of your basic human needs. Drink plenty of water, or, if you prefer, down copious amounts of what my friend calls "Cocktails"--the soda of your choice with whatever cherry, berry, coconut, or lime syrup can be rounded up.  And keep the chocolate on hand, just in case.

Rest up:  Any runner will tell you that lack of rest can ruin even the best training regimen. In the middle of the push til the end, we all need to take the time to rest, relax, and do positive, happy things for ourselves. (Perhaps not in a real race...that might result in a Tortoise and the Hare scenario.)

Find your stride: There's a certain zen quality that settles over me as I fall into the right pace--not too slow, not too fast, just that sweet spot where I could run forever. Frantic emotions fall in my wake as I move forward purposefully, hitting all the checkpoints along the way.  Discovering the best circumstances in which you work--pace, time, and place--is important to creating your best product.

Breathe.  Just breathe: Yoga taught me about soul-cleansing deep breathing. Sometimes, when deadlines approach and irate bosses (or in my case, kindergartners) and everyone else's problems are piling up, the only thing we can do is stop for a moment, breathe, pull it together, and move on.

Look around: Becoming fixated on putting one foot in front of the other and seeing nothing more than the pavement under your feet can be exhausting. The road to the finish line can feel interminable, but, if we look around, beauty can always be found.  A child's laughter, a mountain vista, a compliment from a friend, a much-needed hug, all of these boost our vitality when our resources are dwindling.

The final push:  The end of any 5k is my favorite part. With the finish line in sight, I realize I've got more left in the tank than I thought, and yes, this is the moment when I become a real runner.  With all that is left, I speed toward my goal.  The exhilaration of crossing the finish line, finishing a tough project, or simply clicking after tying The End makes much of what comes before worth it.

Celebrate: Even if no one else is at the finish line to cheer you on, we need to celebrate our own successes. Moving from one drama to another without taking the time to pat yourself on the back, head out to dinner, buy the cute shoes, or drive-thru Sonic for half-price shakes after 8, will deplete your resources until you can longer keep going. My philosophy: Buy The Shoes.

Forrest Gump had a gift for expressed things simply, yet profoundly. On the topic of running, he said:
Whether it's an actual marathon, finishing out a school year, the novel you're currently writing, or a work project that has you all tangled up, I hope these tips will be of use. The biggest lie the world would have us believe is that we are alone in our struggles. Here's the truth:

We are all in this together. The sooner we learn to pull together instead of constantly competing, the stronger & healthier we will be both as a society and as individuals. 

So run the good race, my friends.  If I can keep it together in the land of out-of-control kindergartners, you can do what you need to do too. Thank you for running this crazy race with me.
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For more inspiration on finding the environment that works for you and creating a support system, please review Butt In Chair and There Are Weirdos For Everyone.  Thanks for reading!

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