The Graduation Marathon

I’m currently training for a half marathon and suffering from blisters, increased appetite and exhaustion. My friends at university are also suffering from the same symptoms but they don’t do any form of training. In fact, the only time they start running is if they’re about to miss the bus. It would seem that the lifestyle we go through when trying to achieve a degree (walking to and from lectures, missing out on home cooking and too many late nights) could have the similar negative effects to those of a regular runner. 

My non-running friends will moan and groan about the aches and tiredness and they constantly mope about their lack of motivation. So surely I, the regular runner, should complain more because I’m juggling both studying AND running? Definitely not.  

“How do you have so much energy to go for a run?” They whine. To their disbelief, it is because of my running that I have so much energy. 

I will feel mentally drained and exhausted after two back to back three hour seminars, but after a 10K run through Virginia Waters my mind will be fresh and alert, ready for the day.

The days that I don’t run will be the days that I feel the most tired. The days that I don’t run will be the days that I seem to hate my course, my tutors and my housemates. The days that I don’t run will be they days that I panic about my assignments and worry about failure. Sounds a little dramatic, I know, but the proof is in the research. 

Some of the evidence comes from broad, population-based correlation studies conducted by James Blumenthal, a clinical psychologist at Duke University. He says: “there’s good epidemiological data to suggest that active people are less depressed than inactive people.”

In a 2006 study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers found that even a single bout of exercise—30 minutes of walking on a treadmill—could instantly lift the mood of someone suffering from depression.

Having an uplifted mood will result in a ‘can do’ attitude which is essential when completing essays, assignments and revision for exams. You might use running to blank your mind and forget about the workload stress. Alternatively you may take advantage of the fresh air to plan the structure of your essay in your head. Either way it’s bound to be better than that claustrophobic fear of failure, sat alone at your desk, twiddling your pen and browsing Facebook. I find that after a run, not only do I feel more relaxed about the work I have to do, but I also feel more productive. I want to get it done because I know that I can do it. 

A girl that is keen to share the benefits of running whilst being a student is 22-year-old Izzy Brinsden, recent President of Cross Country & Athletics at Royal Holloway, University of London. She said:

“Although being both an athlete and a student was challenging at times, most of the time I found that these two aspects of my life complimented one another. In the lead up to my third year finals, I would get up extra early to fit in training before heading to the library for 9am. This early morning run woke me up and left my mind clear for a day of study, really helping me to focus and concentrate on my revision and dissertation research. It also gave me the opportunity to get away from my studies, leaving me feeling de-stressed and ready to work.” The addition of running into Izzy’s University life certainly  didn’t hinder her academic performance. She graduated with an impressive first class degree in English Literature. 

University certainly isn’t easy and the road to graduation may feel a bit like training for a marathon. The trick is to stay motivated. Make ‘running’ your FREE personal trainer to help get you through it. 


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