Forward Progress

Something occurred to me today.

It is not about how you stack up to those around you but about how much you are improving.  This relates particularly well to two areas of my life right now.  The first, running.  I have been training for a half marathon for a few weeks now, my longest distance prior to that being a 10k.  I am nowhere near the fastest runner.  I had a pretty decent 10k time this summer (clocking in around a 10:50 min/mile- pretty good for me).  Then, in October, another 10k.  I pushed myself too hard at the beginning to keep up with more experienced runners and had little left for the end and my time was not as good.  Today, I went out on my longest run ever.  9 miles.  It was with a large group of local runners who would actually be running 10 miles.  I am not there yet, so Mr. Cookie was kind enough to shorten the distance for me.  It was exceptionally hard to let the majority of the runners pass me at the beginning, but guess what.  I finished all 9 miles and maintained an 11:06 pace.  That’s better than the October 10k, which was 3 miles shorter.  Is it fast?  Nope.  In fact, my newly purchased Garmin (nicknamed the Slow-poke Tracker) would tell you I was only jogging.  Plus, that was coming off a week of no exercising due to the plague.  BUT, the point is that I finished my longest race ever and did it in a time that is pretty good for me given my track (pardon the  pun) record.  As soon as I was able to let go of stacking myself up against the other runners and focus on just improving myself, I was able to move forward.  Oh, and by the way, my first 5k ever, run about 15 months ago, I clocked in at an 11:35 min/mile.  I tripled that distance today and shaved 30 seconds off per mile.  Hot damn!  I love improvement.

Before

After

Yep.  I was pretty beat.  But I feel good.

This brings me to the other area of my life.  While I was running today and  thinking “man, this is actually easy for some people!” it got me to thinking about some of my students and how they probably feel the same way when their classmates are catapulting ahead of them.  One thing I struggle with the most as a teacher is relating to the kids who are struggling.  I mean, okay.  I was kind of mediocre at math.  But I was still in the advanced classes and still always got As and Bs.  I want to challenge myself to encourage my students to measure themselves against themselves.  I mean, there are always going to be students who got short shrift in terms of early starts to the education.  Even in kindergarten, I’m sure there’s a divide.  Kids who have started counting and reading at home versus kids whose parents haven’t started those things or considered them important.  Ultimately, I want my kids to make forward progress.  Okay, so last year you were at a 3rd grade reading level?  By the time you finish 6th grade I want you at a 4th or 5th grade reading level!

Goals are good.

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