It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Today, I ran my 8th half marathon.
3+ hours is a long time to think, especially when your music stops working at mile five (also, I’m super slow, so it really was over 3 hours).
I thought a lot about how our school year is like a marathon. When I started out this morning, it was slow going. I needed to remind my body what running felt like-warm it up, get it stretched out, fill my lungs with every breath. When I start out in August, I have to remind myself I’m working with a new group of kiddos that are just learning the rules, expectations and procedures of fifth grade in Room 10. We’re warming up to each other and I’m trying to figure out what kind of school year it’s going to be.
Once I get to mile 4 or 5, my body is starting to loosen up. I find my groove, I eat my first energy gel and I feel like I could run forever. This, to me, is the fall/early winter of my teaching year. Right now, my students are GETTING IT. They are starting to show me better work, find their confidence and show pride in their work. We’re in our groove!
But then miles 8-12 happen. These are the forever miles. The miles that make my entire body ache. I find myself hunching over, causing an awful lower back ache. I remind myself to run tall, practice good form, smile for the photographers. But I keep slumping over with the effort. This is the spring, when I have to remind myself to pump fun into our days. The focus can turn too much to the test in May, the frustration of teaching fractions (dear Lord, save me), the stress of a thousand field trips and assemblies and no time to get it all in. Where did the year go? Why is it always a crunch to get it all in by May? I need to constantly tell myself to breathe, stand tall and return to who I am as a teacher.
Mile 13 is magical. With only .1 of it to run, it’s the sprint down the finish shoot. It’s the glorious moment where you gather every bit of energy you have left and leave it on the course. The cheers, the wind in your hair, the rush of relief when it’s all over. This is the last two weeks of May, when you try to drown your grief of turning over your students to the middle school with the elation of having conquered another school year. Cleaning the classroom, the graduation ceremony, the last day of school (we have a giant school dance)-it all celebrates the accomplishments of the previous 10 months.
For most of my teaching career, August and September have dragged-I have craaaaaawled my way through the two months without any vacation days, students who don’t know procedures and the begging of them to practice growth mindset with fifth grade concepts. Usually October is where the school year picks up and we finally find our groove. This year, August and September flew by in a blink of the eye, and October was a blip. We’re already to November and I’m hardly believing it’s the 8th already! I find myself constantly reminding myself to enjoy every day, finding something fun to celebrate with the kiddos and to remember that it’s a marathon, not a sprint (even though this year feels like it!).
May you find your pace this year, holding steady so you can celebrate a victorious finish at the end of the year!