Running has been a huge part of my life since I began cross country and track in high school and continued running cross country in college. Yet while I loved the competitive nature and amazing social connections of the sport, through medical school, running has taken on a whole new meaning for me. Over the past several years, running has served as the greatest outlet for the stressed, overwhelmed student that I am. Hours of sitting and cramming my brain with factoids day after day was possible when I had an hour to explore new trails or catch up with a friend while pounding the pavement to look forward to. While the constant focus on grades and z-scores that compared me to others didn’t always make me feel great, running, without a doubt, always made me feel like a rockstar.
A year and a half ago, I decided to attempt to cut over half an hour off my first marathon time in order to qualify for the Boston Marathon, a dream of mine since I was in high school. It was hard work and required running over sixty miles a week, transforming my diet, and letting other non-school commitments take a back seat for a few months, but I did it!
Training for Boston over the past winter was a struggle, not only because of the cold and snow that synonymous with winter in upstate New York but because of school. Most of my training took place during my OB/GYN and psychiatry rotations. During OB/GYN, we were working from 6 AM to 5:30 PM every day and almost always on our feet. The last thing I wanted to do was go to the gym or run in the dark! For psychiatry, my hours were later, but because I was at a hospital half an hour away, I would often wake up at 5 AM like I did during OB/GYN to get my run in before heading to the hospital. And then there was the studying that came after the work day and runs!
Despite the struggles of training with a packed student schedule, I stood proudly at the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton on Patriot’s Day with 30,000 other runners. The race was hot and hilly, but it was truly incredible. Over 500,000 spectators line nearly the entire 26.2-mile course, and their energy carried me the whole way. My time was not as fast as I hoped it might be, but I had an amazing experience!
Training for a marathon in medical school is challenging, ut doable! Rather than distracting me from my school work, it definitely helps me focus when it comes time to study and also appreciate each day. I’m looking forward to training for my next race, but for now, my next “race” is Step 2!