Running and Teaching Intersect

Runner and Teacher

Over the years, I constantly find myself using running as a metaphor for life, in my classroom.  I have been an elementary teacher for 19 years now.  So many of my students have shared in my daily and weekly musings of my running and training for races.  So often, a conversation in the classroom about goals and struggles, leads to me sharing a story about a recent run or race.  

Writing– Many stories that I write in front of my students as a model for good writing, are about running or races.  A narrative of a recent run in the rain and how the drops soaked my shirt and left my shoes soggy.  Or a piece of writing in which I wrote about struggling through the heat on a warm and humid evening, after school.  These stories help my students as writers, but also give them a glimpse into my life as a runner.  I am more than just their teacher, I am runner.  

I am more than just their teacher, I am a runner. Click To Tweet

Brain Breaks-  When your teacher is a runner. be prepared for “brain breaks” to consist of stretching, foam rolling and yoga! 

teacher life/runner life

Not only do I love that I can get students up and out of their seats, but it gives me a chance to squeeze in some yoga, stretching and foam rolling throughout the day.  Yoga happens daily and weekly in the classroom,  the students love to engage in various stretches and yoga poses.  I brought my foam roller in for my students to use as stress relief.  They love to roll out their calves and lower back muscles. 

This past month, class participated in International Kids Yoga Day.  We loved gathering in a circle on the carpet and challenging ourselves with various poses.  I have been so impressed with the willingness and dedication of my fourth grade students to participate in yoga!  Our favorite poses are pigeon pose and warrior.  My boys love warrior because it sounds strong!  

Recess–  When your teacher is a runner, everyone runs at some point during recess.  Students know that if they ask me to run laps with them at recess, I always say yes!  Usually one or two students start off running with me and then gradually more and more students join in on the laps around the playground and soccer field.  Another “sneaky” way for me to get in some light jogging! 

Running Inspires Teachable Moments-  As a teacher who runs, I am constantly weaving health and fitness routines into the day.  My students definitely enjoy being active throughout the day, instead of being stationary at a desk all day long.  Of course, when your teacher is a runner, morning meetings and motivational speeches to get the day started, inevitably intersect with running. I find myself sharing the same motivational mantras and quotes that I use on long runs and in tough races.  

The Journey (Training and Finish Lines) – The school year is much like a training cycle.  This is my greatest opportunity to coach and get my students to the finish line.  The finish line happens to be the end of the school year.  The journey to the finish line is filled with days, weeks and months of training-coaching each student to reach his or her full potential.  I’ve told my students many times that there are obstacles and challenges along the miles.  Miles are filled with learning and growing, challenging ourselves.  As the school year nears its end, so does this journey.  My fourth graders have 35 days of school left in this “training cycle”.  My words to them as they prepare to cross the finish line of 4th grade are:

“Finish Strong.  Push through towards the finish line” 

Motivation and Inspiration- A Marine amputee, carrying the American Flag for 26.2 miles of the Boston Marathon.

When your teacher is a runner-she shares these images -that inspire and motivate.  A reminder, that when things get tough, remember that anything is possible.  

My Teacher is a Runner- 

I asked my students, “What is it like to have a teacher who is a runner?”  Some of my students wrote me notes on post-its.  I love what they had to say. . .

Click To Tweet
Student Post-Its –
  • ” My teacher makes you strong and brave and makes sure that you make the finish line.”
  • “She helps me move to finish strong”
  • “Having a teacher that runs, inspires us to stay on course and pushes us to reach the finish line.
  • “My teacher will make sure you make your mark in life and she is sure to make her’s too.” 
  • “Having a teacher that runs feels good because sometimes they do yoga with you to keep you feeling good and to take a break from the subject.” 

Just a few thoughts on what it is like when-“Your teacher is a runner.”

 

How does running impact other parts of your life?  

Running and Life: Weekly Reflections

So. . . honestly, I should rename this post Monthly Reflections.  Some how, the days and weeks of March just simply ran away from me.  I had every intention of keeping up with my weekly blog posts.  Running and life, lately, have been a mix of highs and lows and a bit in-between.  

Reflect: Live, Run and Celebrate

Running Lately-   I was in high training mode through January and February, seeking a PR in a late March half marathon.  There were some bumps in the road with consistent training through those months-life happens and the flu knocked me out for almost two weeks total!  My weekly mileage was shaky and I was getting a lot of quality workouts, the long runs were only ten or eleven miles each week.  Reflecting back now, on those weeks of training leading up the March 25th, half marathon, I realize now that despite having a good base of running fitness, I was lacking in the benefits that tempo runs and speed work can provide for half marathon PRs.  

March 25th, 2017 Old Orchard Beach Half Marathon-Not the Race I Intended:

The struggle to finish. . .

What went wrong that day. . . First, lesson learned- never underestimate a “flat course”.   Despite inconsistent training the last few weeks,  I figured I could still nail my goal time.  I envisioned a flat course that would allow me to “breeze” through the miles.  That did not happen. Instead after the first six miles, my leg started to feel “tired and heavy”.  I struggled to maintain my pace and by the last three miles,  had no fast, “leg turnover”.  Interestingly, I found this article online –Disadvantages of Running on a Flat Course  

Lessons Learned:  I had some cracks in my “foundation” and I should I have done more research on training to run a completely flat course.  Be sure to understand and do training runs that mimic the type of course you’ll be racing. Understand the demands that a particularly course will place on your muscles.

Reflections: Lessons Learned from Disappointment Click To Tweet

I was disappointed and feeling a little dejected, once again, by this distance.  Looking back, two weeks prior to this half marathon, I raced stronger and faster at a hilly, Run Rock and Roll DC Half.

Cold, Windy Run Rock and Roll DC Half with Colleen!

 For me, I think a course with rolling hills, suits me better.  My PR is also from the hilly Annapolis Classic Half marathon last November.  It’s interesting how our bodies react to various types of courses.  

Any race, where you can look back and find an opportunity to see what went right, what went wrong and come out feeling like you have at least learned where to go from here- is an opportunity.  Setbacks, Can Be Stepping Stones.

Running: Setbacks Can Be Stepping Stones Click To Tweet

Running and Training- What’s Next (Goals):

  • Get back into my consistent, five days of running
  • Continue to focus on increasing muscle strength
  • Be consistent with a core set of strength exercises -squats, monster walks with resistance band, kettle bell exercises and balance/mobility exercises
  • Build up my base mileage again and really be better about incorporating tempo runs and shorter speed work into my weekly routine
Rolling out and stretching with my favorite tools!

Favorite Tool for Rolling Out My Calves– this Acuball .  I bring this ball everywhere with me-school, travel and at home!  The Acuball really gives a good, deep pressure to the calf area and I love how relaxed and refreshed my calves feel after a good roll. 

April Race Calendar- Well, April is half way done, but I do have another half marathon on tap.  The very last Sunday in April.  Goals for that race?? Up in the air right now. . . the race is the day after my 42nd birthday.  My race calendar after April is pretty wide open,  however, I do have some ideas in the works! 

Healthy Choices- 

Over the last year and a half, I have had blood work done with Inside Tracker twice.  The results have shaped my choices in nutritional needs and more specifically, choosing the right supplements and vitamins for my body.  I feel good about choosing what I know my body needs,  based on in-depth blood work analysis.  My most recent blood work with Inside Tracker, recommended an increase in Vitamin D,  B Vitamins, and Iron.  Having this information from my latest blood work helps me to make informed decisions and I am not purchasing unnecessary vitamins and supplements.  

Vitamins and Supplements

I have also included, Omega 3s and BCAAs in my supplement routine. I decided to incorporate the BCAAs to aid in muscle recovery and improve performance- BCAAs provide energy to my muscles during a workout.  I am proud to say that I have been remembering to actually take my supplements and vitamins each morning!! 

 

Aww. . . Life Lately- The last few weeks of March and then sailing right into April have flown by.  I am bogged down in grades, summative evaluations and weekly track meets for my Redhead.  Between teaching during the day and tutoring three times a week, life has been hectic lately.  I am not always able to fit it all in,  but that’s okay.  Sometimes,  not everything fits into place neatly.  

Running Makes Me Feel Good– It reminds me to stop and reflect as I run the miles, celebrate the things around me and aspire to reach new goals.  

Celebrate- Being asked back as a Zooma Run Ambassador -this opportunity means so much to me.  This women’s race series has lead me to lifelong friendships through running, racing and social media.  I love that Zooma has always been about encouraging and empowering all levels of women runners from diverse backgrounds.  More details to come as ZoomaRun celebrates its tenth anniversary this year!! 

What’s going on in your life and running lately.  What has made you stop and reflect, celebrate or dig for new goals?