I am sure, by title alone, you are already wondering how I can make the claim that by becoming a runner, I have become a better student affairs professional. Over the last 10 months, in large part thanks to running, I have lost over 40 pounds (and counting). I am in the best shape of my life. I also feel that, professionally, I have found my groove. Part of this has to do with experience, but I think is in large part due to my new found health and fitness. I came to this realization the other day, where else, but on a 4 mile run. Let me attempt to explain….
Running makes me happier
It is no secret that working out is good for one’s mental health. Since being active, I find myself to be a happier person. This is not to suggest I was not happy before, but rather I am happy (and proud) of the holistic “me” for the first time in a long while. This certainly translates to my work with students. I am more positive, patient, and overall cheerful.
Running gives me energy
No amount of coffee in the world can compare to the energy I have gained from being active. I would take a morning run over a morning coffee any day.
Running gets me up and away from my desk
With more energy, I am less apt to sit in my office all day. I walk all over campus and to meetings. I meet students in various locations for our one on ones. This has helped me to interact more with folks I did not see as often within my Campus Center bubble.
Running gives me confidence
I was NEVER a runner. When I set my goal in December of running my first 5k in June, I
thought knew I was bound to fail. The more I ran, the further I pushed myself, the more I believed in myself. Self-confidence is something that has helped me tremendously at work as I am given more and more responsibility. That voice in my head that often says “you can’t” is now drowned out by “remember that time you said you’d never be able to run more than a mile…”
Running has pushed me to take more risks
I ran my first 3.16 miles on a whim. I had set out to run my usual 1.5-2 never thinking I was close to that elusive 5k. While out on my run, something sparked that drove me to give it a shot. What resulted was a 34 minute 5k and one of the greatest feelings of accomplishment I have ever felt in my life. This spark has not gone away, as long as I am consistently running. It has followed me into my professional life and with more self-confidence and trust in myself, I take more risks and, as a result, have been more creative and innovative at work.
Running has helped me to own and accept my mistakes better
Let’s face it; we all hate to fail. What running has taught me, however is that sometimes, it just isn’t my day and there is not anything I can do about it. Other times, it is because my will and resolve were not strong enough. Other times, it is because I have made a poor choice, such as bad nutrition prior to a run. All of this, professionally, has better helped me to own my mistakes and realize that mistakes are bound to happen, especially as I get more comfortable with taking risks.
Running has helped me be a better role model
I’d always felt like I was a good role model for my students, except when it came to wellness. I was significantly overweight and not at all active. What’s worse, is I work in a building which houses the fitness center, and the department, which oversees student health and wellnes.. I was not leading by the example I should have been setting. Now, the opposite is true. I chat often with my students about my journey and what running has done for me. A group of orientation leaders approached me about wanting to run with me. It has now become a regular, weekly run. Two of them, having never run more than two miles, ran a 5k our first week! This is an experience I would have never been able to have shared with students prior.
Running gives me balance
Running, for me, is the greatest form of stress relief. Instead of getting lost behind a screen or in food as I did in the past, I lace up the shoes and hit the pavement. I feel rejuvenated and energized afterwards. Running is my “me” time. I am fierce when it comes to protecting it, in a way I had a hard time doing before.
I am not suggesting that all student affairs professionals should, or could benefit from, running. I am simply hoping my story will help others who are in a situation like I found myself 10 months ago find hope. Whether it is running, lifting weights, yoga, biking, etc. physical activity will pay off for you both personally and professionally, I promise. If you did not know already, there is an amazing, supportive #safit community on Twitter and Facebook. It is these people who inspired me and continue to support me throughout my journey. It is safe to say, without the #safit community, I would not be where I am today.
So, what are you waiting for? Lace em‘ up!