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A Journey of a Thousand Miles

September 1, 2013

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A new school year means new “resolutions”.

Visions of new opportunities, new lesson concepts are in everyone’s mind. To some, the goals are simple and for others perhaps grandiose but one thing is for certain. As Lao-tzu said, “A Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

And this saying means a heck of a lot to me at the start up of this year for this October I’m running the Toronto Waterfront Marathon. In itself this is quite an achievement however, knock on wood,  this will be the 39th full marathon I have run since my first in Calgary in 1996. Now 39 is not a round number and the number 39 was only truly important to Jack Benny perhaps but to me – this is a big one nonetheless.

Let’s do some math here … a marathon is 26.2 miles (42.2 km). If we multiply 26.2 by 39 – when I cross the finish line I will have completed 1021.8 miles. And this means my marathon journey of a 1000 miles will be complete. Not that I plan on stopping any time soon.

This wasn’t my goal – I never expected to finish one marathon, or even become a runner for that matter. I remember preparing for my first 10K race by trying to run around two city blocks to start and how hard that was.

I enjoy running and often tell people who ask how my “jog” was today that I am not a “jogger”. To me a jogger is someone who runs for their health – whereas I run because I need to. It is my stress relief, my thinking time, and yes, some days even the savior of my sanity.

Of course, to run 39 marathons, I have run three or four times that in training no doubt. There has to be preparation before (and oh Lord! after) for a race to be successful.

As an educator, the start of the new year is an exciting time and hopefully a time for new goals.   I find myself often reflecting back on my races and the preparation for those races. There are similarities I’d like to share in starting a new year with new ideas and running marathons.

1. It’s not about speed – it’s about endurance. If you put too much into it at first you can burn out before you reach the finish line. Pace yourself, start strong, but start efficiently.

2. It’s easier to be a “runner” than a “jogger”. In other words doing it because you enjoy it is better than doing it for ulterior motives.

3. See the benefit of running both alone and with others. There is a time when working with someone can keep you going and there are also times when they can hold you back. Learn when the support of others will keep you moving towards that finish line.

4. Prepare! Both before and after. Warm up and cool down are both vital.

5. Push yourself. You will hit the Wall – but you can push through it – it’s hard but it never lasts.

6.  Look at failure as a step towards success.

7. Don’t focus on the finish line – enjoy the journey instead of focusing only on the destination.

8. Be proud of your accomplishments but never rest upon your laurels.

So perhaps your finish line is truly a race, or perhaps it is spending more time outdoors with your students. Whatever it may be – enjoy the run.

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