Today I ran a half marathon faster than I ever thought I could. It was quite remarkable how I managed it considering that running for me is a gateway from work and stress more than anything else. I think I take pleasure in the suffering, because make no mistake there is plenty of it when running, at least for me. Of course that’s probably because I tend to try and push myself when I least want to go out and train; stretching the distance more than I think I should or speeding up the tempo a bit.
This is all part of the experience and preparing for a race is a time-consuming process that requires you give it your time dutifully and regularly. I give it three efforts a week. That itself isn’t easy. I must admit the internal gratification I get when completing a run of any kind is powerful, perhaps even strong. The running season is underway now, and I’ve got another 2 half-marathons till the start of May before things subside. There is still training to be done and the upcoming races are even harder to be sure. You’re only as good as your last race they say. I believe it!
Know it really well, then teach it
The same applies to teaching I think. Some might say there is some suffering to be had when you’ve got to deal with children on a daily basis, not that I can complain since I teach adolescent ones and up. I try to approach my teaching a bit like my running. Steadily improve while maintaining the standard that is expected and considered high. The steady improvement element is challenging. It requires a constant energy, search and belief that you can gradually improve, adapt or retry, a new approach or technique, even topic lesson. I try to stick to the mentality I wrote about in an earlier post titled ‘The reward is in the work’, where I discussed the mentality and how it applies to teaching but really, it applies to anything.
Failure is your friend
Failure is important because it’s the only way to know what worked and what definitely didn’t. With running it’s simpler because all you need is the appropriate pace and some shoes. Teaching has multiple elements involved, some in and out of your control, which means it requires a different kind of focus than running. One is about focusing on your breathing, one thing, there’s discipline to it. The other, is juggling and finding the appropriate balance between improvisation, learning outcomes, engaging topics and relevance.
You can’t teach running, it’s natural. You either do it because you want to, or you don’t do it because you don’t. That’s it. I’ve come to that realization. Never tell someone they should run.
Maybe there are more differences than similarities actually. As the season progresses I’ll be investigating this more carefully.