Today, we have a guest post from Reading Teacher/Runner Gretchen Taylor. Gretchen is a Sixth grade Language Arts teacher in Dublin City Schools. She is married to a baseball blogger, and is a soon-to-be-mother of two. She is hopeful to be racing again this summer!
I run for selfish reasons.
My running journey did begin for selfless reasons, though, when I started running as a participant in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program. A former swimmer, I liked the idea of working with a team -- albeit one that didn’t require hand-eye coordination -- to benefit an important cause. Don’t be fooled, though: a former swimmer does not necessarily an enthusiastic runner make. When I say I started running, I mean, I started. At first, I couldn’t run a mile. I swear. During my first half marathon, the culminating experience of my Team in Training season, I threatened my well-intentioned runner friend -- she’d generously offered to run me through the race -- that I’d throw up on her shoes if she kept talking to me. That was at mile six. Of 13.1.
But after that first half, something strange happened. I wanted to keep running. I continue to run today because I (usually) love it. I started running for others, but now, I admit that I run for myself.
I run to feel the burn of a hill repeat. I run to gab with my running friends. I run to pass other people while I’m pushing a jogging stroller. I run to start the day with a rush of adrenaline. I run to work up a good sweat on a summer morning. I run to beat a bunch of college girls in a half marathon. I run to problem solve. I run to get faster. I run to work through the haze of post-partum hormones. I run to set a good example for my daughter, and I run to give birth to a healthy son. I run to wear cute running clothes.
I run because it’s mine.
In teaching, we have learned to internalize every “failure” and externalize every success, probably because we by nature aren’t quitters. The student who still hasn’t really finished a book this year, despite my best efforts? I haven’t found the right book to hook him. The standardized test scores that I want to be higher? I should have been more aggressive with my diagnostic data results. The poor behavior choices that just won’t quit? I need to develop a better relationship with the student.
On the other hand, the student who explodes as a reader? Probably a combination of years of elementary support and being surrounded by other enthusiastic readers.
We teachers are conditioned to beat ourselves up over the toughest missions and pass off to others the most gratifying credit.
It’s a bit of a twisted sense of efficacy.
But when I’m in my running shoes, I own the successes and the failures. I can internalize both the good and the bad; it’s a refreshing dose of intellectual consistency. When I reach a personal best in a race, it’s because I trained hard and I earned it. When I bomb, it’s because I slept in too much, ate poorly, neglected my strength training, or slipped up in any number of areas, all of which are firmly in my control.
The running community’s all mine, too. I get up at 4:45 a.m. for the running itself, yes, but also for the community. For that hour or few, no one has an agenda for me except for making sure I get through my run, preferably with a sense at the end that I could do it all over again the next day. When I run, I’m surrounded by people who are invested in and excited about each other’s successes. We truly want each other to succeed.
I get a little twitchy when, in reference to the miles I put in, non-runners say things to me like, “Oh, it must be nice to have that kind of time!” or, better yet, “Oh, but don’t you feel guilty being away from your daughter?” (Because every two-year-old wants to play at 5:30 a.m., right?)
Some of the busiest, most accomplished, and happiest people I know choose to spend their time running. Running makes us all better at all of the things we do. Because of running, I’m more patient, more level-headed, more refreshed, and more confident, in everything I do; I’m more for myself and I have more to give everyone around me.
I might be selfish with my reasons for running … but I don’t feel guilty.