For most folks, early May marks the beginning (or at least hopeful beginning) of summer weather, outdoor activities, barbecues, and more comfortable outdoor running. However, for me, this time of year is also a “new year” of sorts. The spring semester is coming to a close, and the summer months are upon us. I’ve lived and worked in an academic environment for the better part of my life, so this change in environment and work focus seems fairly natural and expected to me, and I often forget that this transition doesn’t impact everyone. Granted, most people definitely notice the lack of students in town as the community shifts into sleepy summer calm, and it doesn’t take nearly as long to wait for a table at a restaurant (not that it ever really takes that long in a small town in Iowa), but the work/life structure doesn’t change. However, the summer months mark a sharp change in schedule and behavior for me. My focus shifts from teaching to research and writing, and my schedule becomes far less structured or influenced by outside forces. I spend just as much time working, but my responsibilities drastically shift.
This passing of the seasonal baton certainly has an influence on my training schedule and behavior. Most notably, I’m not able to meet up with friends to run more regularly without scheduling conflicts getting in the way. I’ll also spend more time running in the early morning hours to avoid the heat (once it gets here), and my race schedule is finally getting exciting. I truly love the spring and summer months and the opportunities they bring for outdoor activities, work around the house, and being able to sit outside in the backyard with a good book and a few dogs playfully chasing rabbits and squirrels. I also love the flexibility to be able to toss in extra runs or other training activities, and not spend as much time chasing the daylight.
I’ll have a busy next few months ahead of me, between my teaching responsibilities (don’t worry, there are still students here taking classes!), and the various writing and research projects I’ve had on hold, but I’m looking forward to the change of pace. I enjoy working in academia because the days are always different from one to the next, and you have the flexibility to work on a variety of projects at any given time. I know very well that I wouldn’t do well in a job that forced me to do the same few things every day, without change. I suppose that’s the same reason I enjoy running outside so much, and avoid the treadmill. I love the variety and flexibility to pick a new route every day, run at new times of day, in new places, and tackle new races.
If I had to describe myself in one word, it would be “collector”. I love to collect information, knowledge, books, and most importantly, experiences. I shrug at the idea of running a race more than once because there are so many other races out there I haven’t yet run. I love looking for new ways to challenge myself and new people to share those moments with along the way. Ultimately, running, for me, is about passing the baton from one season/race/trail/route/climate/location/gear choice to the next. It’s always changing, always, fluid, and always filled with new experiences just waiting to collide with you when the sun rises the next day. So, to all of my running friends, I say Happy New Year! Greet this change in seasons, experiences, and opportunities with open arms. Lace up, head out, and enjoy the experiences and challenges that await you this summer! I know that I will 🙂