I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself considering that I haven’t started yet, but I do feel like running has prepared me, at least mentally, for the biggest challenge of my life yet — law school. Three months out from orientation, I feel motivated, energized, and slightly intimidated, quite like I do when I start marathon training!
This is not merely a coincidence. No, I believe that all those training cycles in my past have uniquely prepared me for the rigors of law school.
1. Dealing with Competition
Objective success in law school comes down to grades. Specifically, your class rank. Like a race, where you rank among your peers matters for some things. But as we learn in running, we can’t control what our competition does; we can only control ourselves. So, first thing’s first: if you go into law school with a goal, say to graduate cum laude or land a dream internship, you need to identify where about you need to be in your class rank and figure about what kind of grades you’d need to get there. Think of it like wanting to win an age group award at a race and studying the past race results to know about what your goal time would need to be to win the trophy.
2. The Ugly Side of Getting into Shape
In training and racing, there are moments when we feel that we’re so not ready for this. We look weeks out in our training plan and see our longest tempo yet, and we think, WTF how can I ever do this? A great lady named Amy Poehler once said that great people do things before they are ready, and that applies to running — and law school. When I saw my class list for fall semester I saw a word I’ve never seen before and it was the name of a class. Surely, I’m not fit for law school if I have to look up what a name of a first year law class means! But “Torts” will make sense eventually (and is apparently not about dessert).
3. Pushing Through Fatigue
Many times in racing, particularly in the marathon, when I think I cannot take another step, I can look around me and see that there are thousands of people doing the same thing as me. I’m not alone! I’m not the only one out here suffering! Even though I fear Torts, I realize that I’m not the only law student in America with anxiety over my studies. For better or worse, my newest community of friends will push me, and I them, to the finish.
4. Letting Go of Perfect
Running has helped me to let go of my perfectionism and accept that not every race goes according to plan. This will be particularly important as I enter academia once more. School has historically been the one area of my life that I give 100% of myself. I struggled with this in architecture school (not coincidentally) before I started running marathons. I went from being the academic superstar from my tiny high school to losing my identity and self-esteem in a big, intimidating world of architecture, in which I did not understand how to execute my design concepts. I finished school burned out, never desiring to open AutoCAD ever again. Running has taught me how to be flexible with plans and take breaks when necessary to avoid both burnouts and identity crises.
5. Welcoming the Challenge
I have gone into many workouts, and most recently the half where I PR’d, knowing that they were going to be intense. I have slowly learned to face the discomfort, understanding that it will be painful, but nothing I cannot handle. I’ve heard so many horror stories about law school, and yes, I am scared. I know it’s going to hurt, and I am okay with that, and maybe, just maybe I’ll exceed my wildest expectations of myself.
If you’ve been there, how would you say running helped you with law school or vice versa?