This past year was tough for everybody but teachers experienced their own brand of chaos. Adapting to online education with a band of restless youth often presiding on their computers before their frustrated parents, teachers had to assuage adults while educating kids in environments that were not built for the essential purposes of learning.
In speaking with teachers who run, we heard about the principles every runner needs to achieve their goals: patience, perseverance, hard work, faith, determination, and consistency.
“This year was the marathon of all school years. There were no shortcuts, no easy way out,” says Robyn Michaud-Turgeon, who draws parallels between her experiences teaching through COVID with her run at the Chicago Marathon: “I really had no idea what to expect. Sure, I had run before, but had I ever conquered 26.2? I remember things going sideways as early as 14km, when I REALLY wasn’t expecting it—I panicked and in came the negative self-talk. That whole last half of the race was mental gymnastics and I had to change my game plan several times to adapt to whatever came my way,” she says. “In the end, I survived. It wasn’t pretty, but man, that medal around my neck was earned just for the mental battle I was able to wage, and win. This school year was the EXACT SAME FEELING.”
The exuberance of finishing a race is mirrored by many of us with the feeling of making it at least partially through the pandemic and being able to resume some semblance of a regular life. With vaccination rates rising and more things opening up, not to mention the end of the school year, there is a notion of crossing some sort of finish line. Lyndsay Tessier, one of Canada’s fastest marathon runners and a teacher of 8 and 9-year-olds, said she used her running to balance out the stress of this past year.
“At the beginning of last year when the pandemic first started, I struggled and found that if I didn’t carve out some time for myself to go running then my four walls could swallow me whole,” says Tessier, a competitive racer and 2021 Olympic marathon substitute who used the pandemic to ease off her training and run more for mental health than to hit pace times. She says her running was the one aspect of her life during COVID-19 where she assumed control.
“It was only when I was running when I remembered: Oh yeah, I can line up with some of the world’s best. I can make this Google doc for an 8-year-old.”
Teachers do their job day in and day out, and often times their work isn’t rewarded. The job they do can be missed by prizes, the press and big money and often it’s the little things where they see their successes. It comes with an inherent pride and commitment and, in some cases, not all, but a belief in something with a payout down the road, if they just keep doing their best. With running, like with teaching, to achieve something special, especially during a pandemic, you have to be strong, and carry on.
“Pivot” was the buzzword this year and that’s what we all did in January to full-remote learning. I had a full-out panic attack the night before thinking “I can’t do this!”” admits Michaud-Turgeon. “Then I looked at the medal rack on my bedroom wall and said, “Oh, heck ya I can.” And I did. We all did.”
Thank you to all the teachers, sincerely, from iRun magazine.