I am tired and not particularly wanting to write an entry tonight, but I tend to be driven by external factors/consequences/modes (see pic below)
and I signed up for a 14 day writing challenge (and today is day 1, sigh. You can’t not meet the challenge ON THE FIRST DAY!). Being an academic, one of the things that we’re judged highly upon is our scholarship–but it’s also the thing that tends to get neglected the most. With the immediacy of unplanned classes or unprepared meetings kicking you in the face, the delayed consequences of unattended scholarship is easy to ignore. Thus, there are ways to try to ensure accountability for these intangible, yet consequential, endeavors.
This 14-day writing challenge is put on by Kerry Ann Rocquemore and her National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity. “The National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity is an independent professional development, training, and mentoring community of over 71,000 graduate students, post-docs, and faculty members. We are 100% dedicated to supporting academics in making successful transitions throughout their careers.” Basically, it teaches you to “be” an academic. There are a whole crazy menu of services you can get through them. The 14 day writing challenge is a free one where they hook you up with a small community (aha! that word again) of other academics making the commitment to write for at least 30 minutes everyday for 14 days. There are daily check-ins, chat boards to virtually meet others in the writing process, and gentle hints/nudges to get you writing. It’s awesome. I’ve done several of them, and it always reinvigorates me with engaging with writing more often.
All that wasn’t written to be a commercial for them–although I do think they are amazing. AND, I would love for someone to sponsor me to be do their Faculty Bootcamp, though, if anyone’s looking to help a sista out 🙂 I thought of running connections to writing, though, because today I am sore from my workout yesterday. Let me explain. I got my most recent copy of Runner’s World, and it features the amazing magical stride of Meb Keflezighi.
The man spends more time in the air than he does on the ground. In other words, he flies. But he doesn’t get that amazing stride without working at it. He does alot of form drills to help him be the amazing runner he is (you can find them here). One of the most elite runners in the world…
wait for it…
Huh. I know. Shocker. I’ve become slightly obsessed with form over the last several years. Most of it is about trying to make small adjustments while I run–swinging my arms straight, trying to hit mid-foot, maintaining the right cadence, and “running tall.” I feel like all these things have made a huge difference in terms of injury and running efficiency. I also know that doing drills will make me an even better, more agile, possibly faster, and definitely more efficient runner. HOWEVER, I hate drils. I have flashbacks to high school track (remember I did the field events because I was a horrible runner) and the group warm-ups we would do–butt kicks, high knees, grape vine, bounding, toe touches, and running backwards. I keep seeing articles about how these drills will improve your form and your running. And Meb says they will. And Meb is practically a god. In fact, his new book is called Meb for Mortals, ha.
Getting back to why I’m sore…after my short 3-mile recovery run, I decided to do drills. I felt guilty for “only” running 3 miles (I know, I know, it’s weird to feel guilty about the “shortness” of a run, but I’m a recovering Catholic and I’m Korean. I got guilt to spare), so I wanted to add something more. Since it was such a nice day out, I decided to do some drills and get the kids outside. I was going to spend “quality time” with them, while secretly working in my drills. They quickly gave up. I mean, they’re 3 and 5, and they are my children (read, not particularly coordinated). They were happy to draw with sidewalk chalk while I bounded, grapevined, and lunged my way up and down the sidewalk. One of our neighbors next door stood outside and cheered for us. I have to say that I felt like a big loser on display, but we don’t have the length of sidewalk needed in our backyard. I felt pretty awesome afterwards, but now I’m sore today. And I didn’t have time to work out the soreness today. I know, first world problems.
So yesterday’s drills are not that different from the daily 30 minutes of writing. All of it is about cultivating a practice, an embedded form and function within you for something that seems hard or abstract. Writing a 30 page manuscript (or a 300+ page dissertation) doesn’t happen in one crazy all-nighter, and training for a marathon and qualifying for Boston won’t happen in just doing a few long runs here and there. It is the daily grind of pushing through the “But I don’t wanna!” and of working when you don’t want to, whether it’s 30 minutes of writing at 10 p.m. or speed workouts at the track at 6 a.m. (tomorrow’s reality), that will push you to do more than you think you can, of raising the bar of what to expect from yourself, and of forging newer understandings of your strength and ability.
If Meb grinds it on the daily, who are you not to at least try?