Why I [Continue to] Run

I know I’ve written a bit on this blog about residency, and have probably told most of you who read this far more in person.

There are a multitude of things I could write about residency thus far. My thoughts are a bit too overwhelming to even know where to begin and what is appropriate to share (does the word vagina make any of you uncomfortable?). So, I’ll start with what this blog is mostly about – running.

No matter how you slice it, residency is tough. Even with work hour restrictions (80 hours per week), the physical, mental, and emotional demands drain your energy pool fairly quickly.

I had fairly low expectations for running in residency, but an ambitious outlook. Like any self-respecting type A, I made a goal of exercise 4 times per week. And, in good intern fashion, I put four check boxes in my planner for the week to be checked off accordingly. (Interns bow down to the holy to-do list check box).

Now, before I get a bit negative, let me preface with the fact that I love what I do most of the time (I’m fairly certain no one can love their job 100% of the time). Best of all, I love the people I work with and all that I am learning from them.

Yet, for better or worse, being an intern reminds me daily of what I am not. Despite 8 years of higher education, I’m not even good at doing practical tasks, like putting the leg drape on in the OR elegantly,  (seriously, I’ve had nightmares over that leg drape). Compared to people around me, I’m not that knowledgeable, skilled, published, or any other adjective you want to throw in there…yet, that is. Its a four year residency for a reason and a life-long career, but the intern growing pains are real for me, nonetheless.

Despite the long hours, I haven’t found much difficulty in getting out the door to run. Being able to run is a treat and a time each day I cherish. Running feels like breathing to me – natural and necessary for life (or at least mine). More than ever before, running feels like a part of me, rather than something I do or a goal I chase.

I don’t run far or fast – usually between 4-6 miles. I never wear a watch or Garmin. I’ve had the motivation to do workouts, but never the energy or time to put forth into making it a quality effort during the work week (plus, I’m not “training” for any specific and would rather talk with a friend on a run rather than suffer through a workout). On my days off, I get to go on a long run and catch up with friends. My longest run since residency has started is 18 miles and I’m really proud of that.

Mostly, I keep running not for any time goal or new distance to be conquered, but because running reminds me of what I can become rather than what I am not.

Many have said athletics mirror life: you get out of it what you put into it. With consistent training and hard work (and a little help), I went from a 4:09:59 marathoner to 3:34:07 during a 3 year period.

Remembering what went into my marathon improvement helps me approach each day as an intern with a little more gumption, fortitude, and fervor. Even on days when I feel completely incapable and inept, I know that with consistent hard work I can go from “what I am not” to whatever it is I’m meant to be in four years.

I don’t know when my next race will be. I don’t know when I’ll really “train” again. I don’t know if any of “that” will matter to me again.

All I know is that I’ll keep putting one foot in front of another, both in running and in residency.

And, I have to believe it will pay off.


Until next time…


12 thoughts on “Why I [Continue to] Run

  1. Love this post 🙂 Although my current situation (grad school in mechanical engineering) isn’t as intense as your medical residency sounds, I use my off time to run for similar reasons. After a day of being reminded of all that I am bad at and what I can’t do yet, throwing on my shoes and running for an hour is a great reminder of what I CAN do 🙂 Glad to hear you’re balancing the running and residency – that’s some seriously inspiring time management!

    • Me too!!! I went to grad school for geology and while it’s definitely not the insane stress level/time crunch of residency, I still relate to the feeling like you’re SO DUMB COMPARED TO EVERYONE ELSE HERE OMG WHAT AM I DOING?!?!?!?, and it’s especially hard to take when previously you were always accustomed to being “the smart kid”/”good at school” (so, you know, all of us).

      I find that not only does running help me remember that I can totally improve at things, it’s so nice to have a hobby that I don’t HAVE to be good at. I took a random watercolor painting class my first semester of grad school for this very reason. After a day of beating myself up for being TERRIBLE AT SCIENCE (exaggeration) (but in my head it was totally real), it was so relaxing to just go paint like a little kid and not give a crap how it turned out.

  2. I think you might be jumping the gun a bit when you say “I don’t know when I’ll really “train” again. I don’t know if any of “that” will matter to me again.” However, I really love this post and how your running has turned into an escape or way to relax from your current grind! Keep it up!

  3. This was a timely read for me. I start my first year of Law School tomorrow. I know I want to keep running so that I have a little bit of time that is all my own. I am training for my first half marathon in December. I look forward to miles I get to put in, and know that I’ll appreciate them even more in just a few weeks.

  4. the word vagina does not creep me out. at all. 🙂

    i can’t imagine the stress reliever running is for you. a time to perhaps not think so much? 😉

    i guess the same thing can be said about running during pregnancy. you can’t really “race” (you know what i mean) so it’s easy to be lazy and not run. but i always remind myself that i’m doing good for me and the baby and that pretty much motivates me each day.

  5. Thanks Meggie, that post was clear and inspiring! Running does lead me to what I am rather than be counting all that I am not or lack in life. I appreciate that sentiment and think it’s true for any individual trying to make their way in the world, in a city of 5 million or a town of 2 thousand…we all run for the same reasons. 🙂

  6. Thanks meggie, that post was awesome!
    No matter if we are in a city of 5 million or a town of 2 thousand, life can be hard but running does lead us to that positive place of imaging all that we have and can do, rather than what we lack! Thanks!

  7. I am happy that you are continuing to run. I actually applaud you for keeping it up with your crazy intern schedule. I am sure that the running is a good form of stress relief and also is something that you can look forward to. I think that you will be back to training for a race sooner than you think. 🙂

  8. I ask myself why I run when I shut off my alarm at 4:30am, three days a week to run. One of my alarms says, “Think of how GREAT you’ll feel!” That’s my Saturday alarm. At the end of a long week, getting up on Saturdays to go run is the hardest. I guess you can say I run because it makes me feel good, even if I have to do it before my kids are awake.

  9. I am about as late as one can be to commenting on this post…but I’m always impressed when I hear about residents working out or training for a marathon. One of our night fellows was in the Run (Race?) for the Rabbit Jack Rabbit competition that Ali did a couple years ago. I have no idea how they do it since I have enough trouble with my three days per week schedule! So I’m impressed. I’m also excited for our night shifts to be at the same time so we can do zombie runs in the morning!

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