Lessons From the Run

On January 1st, 2012 I took on a challenge to run at least one mile every day for a whole year. On January 9th, 2012 I ended my streak due to an injury. I took two days off and started back up on January 12th, 2012 and have not missed a day since. My run streak has covered over 6,000 miles, 38 US states, and countless hours of meditation and snot rockets. :) During that time I have reflected on a great many things which I wanted to put down in writing. 

Goals are Essential

Yes, we all have heard about the importance of goals. For me, my first goal was to make it 365 days of running each day. It turned out that was the easiest goal I’ve set thus far. Every year I make a new goal. In 2018, I am currently working towards my goal of running a 50 miler. Stay tuned because I am signed up for one in April. Every year of the #runstreak I have set goals that ranged from a 1,000-mile year or running a half marathon every month to run a sub 20-minute 5k and run 4-hour marathon. The goals keep me focused and motivated. 

I think about my work with students and how important it is to have goals. However, I fear far too often our students’ goals are created by the adults. We create reading goals or behavioral goals for kids and track their progress. Kids typically don’t buy-in because they don’t care about those goals. Kids care about doing things they are interested in and creating goals around those areas. I am currently working with students whose goal is to create a customized arcade machine using a Raspberry Pi and various components bought off the internet. They are all in because it is their goal, not mine. 

Kids need to make goals for themselves, not for us. 

I Hate Running

While this is not entirely true, there are days where I want to give the 4am alarm an inappropriate hand gesture or a violent reaction. Some days I am running and counting down the steps until I am done. This is especially true when the wind chills are 30 below zero and body parts start freezing. Yet, even in those moments of disgust and general disdain for running, I’ve yet to finish a run and regret it. Although, there was that one run in Huntsville, Alabama. If you ever get me in person, I will tell you the story. :)

I see so many connections with this to school work and what we ask kids and teachers to do. Some of the stuff we ask kids to do is not fun and they will hate it. This goes the same for teachers. However, some things we ask kids and teachers to do may be less than desirable but we know it will help them in the long run. While I am an advocate of joy and fun, the reality is somethings are hard and boring but need to be done. Period.

Moral of the story, something you hate from time to time can be good for you in the long run.

Unplug

The greatest aspect of running for me is the time to unplug and reflect on life. I almost view my time as a form of meditation. Many hours on the trails have provided me time to reflect on all aspects of my life from parenting and teaching to my marriage and gardening. It is both amazing and scary where the mind can wander when out running for up to 6 hours at a time. Some of my best teaching ideas have come while out pushing through some early morning miles. 

For me, this is likely the best lesson I have learned from my running. Too much of our lives are dominated by a hyper-connected state through devices. Adults and kids alike are glued to their screens and constantly bombarded with media in a firehose of information. As parents and teachers, we have to be fine with and even encourage kids taking time off away from the screens. Let them run around outside, play, get dirty and heaven forbid; be bored. 

I have run many miles and hopefully, I have much more on the horizon. Running has pushed me to limits I didn’t know I had and reflect on my life in ways I couldn’t have imagined. While I don’t think everyone needs to go out and run daily, I think everyone needs something to keep them focused, motivated and moving forward.