Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A runner's approach to life's challenges (grad school)

            I am currently working on earning a Masters degree in Plant Pathology. For a while now I have not felt like I've been making much progress on my research project.  I have technically passed all other course requirements and am just waiting on my thesis and defense to graduate.

The lab I where I do my research. I am sitting at the bench (notice I am missing the bottom half of my body haha). 
Last Friday, my advisor told me he would fund me this fall, I would take another class, and I would need to graduate in December. This means I need to finish writing my thesis by the beginning of October (yikes!).  As of yet, (for reasons not completely within my control) I do not have any results. Needless to say, I have been slightly overwhelmed.

            It seems like graduate school has been a marathon, and right now I am at mile 20. I have hit a wall and am not sure I will be able to finish. I keep asking myself “why did I ever think this was a good idea?” and bargaining with myself that “after I finish I will never do something like this again!” I am pretty sure I had these exact same thoughts when I ran the Portland Marathon haha.
I recently came across this quote:

“Succeeding in running should be seen as an allegory for succeeding in every aspect of life. Set goals, plan out how to achieve them, then stick to the plan.”

            – Kim Griffin, 1982 NCAA and U.S.

            This completely coincides with my worldview. I am an avid planner. It is for this reason is  I am at all successful in running. I’m not extremely athletic or anything, I just create a running schedule, stick with it, and before I know I am able to run for lots and lots of miles.
            I decided I should use my over-planning tendencies to finish the metaphorical marathon that is graduate school.  I estimated everything that I needed to get done, week by week, between now and December 12 (Graduation Date!?) in order to reach my goal. The process was extremely helpful and reduced my stress levels by a lot. Now finishing my Masters thesis seems within the realm of feasibility.

            I'm happy to report that since doing this, I have been a lot more productive. I have written maybe 5 additional pages for the first chapter of my thesis. I also went into the lab last night after dinner for a couple of hours (gasp!).

Me at work last night, holding up a tube of fungal mycelia.
            I'm also happy to say that my running has been going well. This morning, I had a four-mile run which I ran on the indoor track at the Rec Center. I felt in really good shape. My average pace was 9:55 min/mile! I am not sure why I felt and performed better today. Of course, running on the track is flat and so is a lot easier than running outside. However, last week, the same run took me almost 5 minutes longer to complete. 

My splits (in miles)