“I’ve learned that finishing a marathon isn’t just an athletic achievement. It’s a state of mind–a state of mind that says anything is possible.”
~ John Hanc, running writer
Last month, I ran the Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon in San Francisco. It was my fourth half marathon but one of the toughest races I’ve ever run; those San Francisco hills are no joke! It was a cool and crisp morning with some fog slowly rolling in from the Pacific Ocean. Therefore, it was the perfect day take over the city with 40,000 members of my running community.
While I was getting my mind off of running up the first hill at mile 2, I reflected on how my experiences in student affairs aligned with my experiences training for and completing half-marathons. Here are some reflections from my race experience that have parallels as a first year professional:
Similar to how fueling our bodies is important for runners, fueling our bodies is important for Student Affairs professionals. Since our positions in this field can be incredibly taxing physically, spiritually, and emotionally, it is imperative to ensure we’re getting the right amount of sleep, eating nutritious foods, and making time to exercise. It will not only help us able better focus on our work but also better serve as a strong role models for our students and staff. Additionally, we each only get one life and one body to live in, so we must take care of it.
Run with Your Head Up.
This is great advice for proper running technique and an excellent metaphor for our lives. So often, we can get caught up in challenging conversations with our students, with our high priority concerns in our respective areas, and with our administrative paperwork or emails. It can be so easy to forget the positive impact we can have with our students and in our community. Running with our heads up allows us to take in the scenery and soak in life. In other words, we must take some time to breathe in what’s around us.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Regardless of if we are seasoned pros or first time runners, this community has always been full of togetherness and mutual respect. In the running community, there are folks from all walks of life. Even so, we take time to come together to run the race. We share our successes and challenges, work together to reach the finish line, and inspire others to come together. This always makes me reflect on my experiences as a Student Affairs professional–representation and inclusion matter. If our students cannot see themselves in us, how can they trust us to walk alongside them in their journeys? Having departments and institutions that reflect the variety of social identities is crucial for serving our student populations.
Compete Less. Encourage More.
Marathoners and runners are notorious for offering unlimited encouragement for one another. They have a mutual understanding that there is room at the finish line for everyone. It is not always about winning or losing, but it is about being together. This encouragement makes crossing the finish line an even larger success. Think of how different our departments or institutions would be if we slowed down our competitive nature and provided more encouragement in our communities. Our passion sustains the energy for this field and it can speak volumes for our intentions in our work. In my work in residence life, my energy and encouragement for my staff plays an integral role in how we continue to progress throughout the year. Our energies and attitudes contribute to living wholly and fully in our roles.
This post is part of our #SAfit series for May. With the constant hustle and bustle of our profession, we can’t forget to put ourselves at the top of our to-do list sometimes. It is essential that we remember to take time for self care and this series highlights how our colleagues work #SAfit into their lifestyles. This can look different for each of us and your journey is your own. For more info, please see Mandi Stewart’s intro post. Be sure to check out the other posts in this series too!