As a trainee who also competes in races, I’ve learned the importance of leaning on others to reach the finish line.
When I started med school, one of the most quoted sentiments I heard was, “It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.” I decided to take this advice literally and signed up to run the Dublin Marathon.
Of course, as my medical school education ends, the adage rings true. Here are four lessons I learned while training for (and finishing!) the Dublin Marathon:
1. Don’t try to go too hard, too quickly.
As part of my training, I ran a 5K three to four times a week and slowly built up my weekly longer run from 10K to 30K. This helped my body get used to running further and further each week and prevented injuries. In school, that injury is burnout— trying to do everything all at once is impossible. You can only do so much in one day.
2. Adapt along the way.
Some things that I thought would work for me did, but some didn’t. Those fancy new shoes may just not be as comfy as your trusty old ones. The study resource that half of your class is using may be gibberish to you. The flexibility to recognize when things aren’t working and adapting accordingly is what leads to a positive outcome.
3. Put in the hours to get results.
This one may seem obvious, but it’s absolutely true. The best way to get good at something is by doing. It’s ok to have off weeks, where you don’t make that benchmark of four runs per week, or you don’t study as much as you intended. Moving forward and focusing on sticking to your schedule the following week is what matters.
4. Leaning on others will help you finish.
What stood out to me while running the Dublin Marathon was the sense of community. Running was more of a team sport than I could have ever expected. The feeling of support that I got from a wave, shout, or handful of gummy bears from spectators was what kept me going when I hit a wall. The days spent with friends hiking, grabbing a pint after class, or practicing physical exam skills on one another had the same effect.
I’ll take the lessons I learned from running a marathon through residency and beyond.
This piece expresses the views solely of the author. It does not necessarily represent the views of any organization, including Johns Hopkins Medicine.