Thomas Edison State University By Thomas Edison State University • October 13, 2014

5 Things Running Can Teach You About Getting Through Graduate School

“We all have dreams; in order to make dreams come into reality it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline and effort." - Jesse Owens, Olympic Gold-Medalist runner

As the Trenton Half Marathon approaches on November 8th, seasoned and first-time runners have spent the last year stretching, strengthening and pushing themselves to prepare for the big event. They’ve dedicated long hours to training and exercising, both mentally and physically, for one goal - to finish.

Graduate students also strive to reach their own finish line – learning, writing and studying their way through graduate school. They too spend long hours in pursuit of one goal – to earn a master’s degree. But without the right preparation, graduate school can feel like an exhausting marathon to get through.

So if you’re a graduate student eager to finish your degree, runners can be the inspirational and motivational guides you need to reach your own goals. Incorporate these basic runners’ principles to your own studies if you too want to see your family and friends cheering you on at the finish line, or the commencement stage.

Runners pace themselves.

An experienced runner would not waste stamina and sprint at the start of a race; it’s impossible and harmful to maintain. Instead, a runner will adopt a slower pace to conserve the energy needed to reach those long distances. Students can benefit from adopting a similar approach. Instead of pulling an all-nighter to complete a final project or paper in one day, work on it a few hours each week. This way, you can meet any deadlines – even submit assignments early - and avoid any unnecessary stress.

Runners follow their own training schedule.

You wouldn’t take an exam without studying, and you wouldn’t run a race without proper training. A runner will stick to a training schedule to get him/her in peak condition and ready for race day. Graduate students must adopt a similar self-disciplined approach to schoolwork; it is your responsibility to meet assignment deadlines and due dates, so create and follow your own schedule if you want to succeed.

Runners know their limits.

With any endeavor, it is important to know your limits and understand when to take it easy, or when to push through and persevere. A first-time runner will not attempt a 20-mile race before running a 5k. However, if that runner’s goal is to run a 20-mile race, he/she will adopt a training schedule and regime to reach that goal. So if graduate school seems difficult, dial it back. If being a full-time student with a family and job seems impossible, consider finishing your degree on a part-time basis.

Runners maintain a healthy lifestyle.

For optimal performance, a runner will eat healthy foods, get enough sleep and drink plenty of water aside from practicing a regular training schedule. Oftentimes, these necessities are the first to go when students try to balance busy lifestyles. However, the right brain foods and a steady sleep schedule will improve your energy, focus and productivity for a much more effective school experience.

Runners just don’t quit.

In a marathon, a runner’s only focus is to reach the finish line. It doesn’t matter how long it took to get there or what obstacles were in the way. Likewise, while a graduate degree can advance your career and offer new opportunities, it doesn’t matter how long it will take to earn. The important thing is that you triumph and finish. And that’s a pretty amazing feeling.

Thomas Edison State University

Written by Thomas Edison State University

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