Intellectual Wellness: Changing the Culture of College

When I was in grad school, I was a grad assistant for a wellness program on campus. We did a number of events but by far our most popular events were alcohol education events, so I have a bit of an interest in this. I have recently noticed a number of universities suspending Greek organizations on the basis of alcohol related deaths or sexual assault allegations. While I am someone who admittedly has some biases against Greek orgs, I have to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Even at universities where Greek life isn’t big, there are still alcohol related deaths and sexual assault. It’s not just about punishing the Greek organizations. It’s about taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture. Getting wasted and drinking games that promote binge drinking are popular on college campus. So popular that it is almost expected of college students to go out and get wasted. And when you are drunk, your decision making skills are impaired as well as the fact that in most states, you are not legally able to give consent if you are intoxicated.

What needs to change isn’t that more frats and sororities need to be punished and suspended. What needs to change are the cultures of college campuses. Which, someone who studied org change in grad school, is not an easy feat at all. However, colleges are a unique setting, because unlike a typical organization that retains staff members for years, decades, and even longer…a new college class comes in every year and in 4-6 years ish, that class is gone and moved on. We need to start with incoming students and start working on changing the culture of universities. Right now, we have universities that have parties going on where students are soaking tampons in alcohol to get drunk. Students are playing binge drinking games to get hammered because it’s the “cool” thing to do. How is any of this an accepted behavior? We throw phrases around like, “there is a time and place for everything and that is in college” and while that is true for some things, there is never a time and place to soak a tampon in vodka and insert it into your body just to get more drunk.

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Financial Wellness: Money Saving Apps

Holiday season is upon us, like it or not (I like it) and with that comes the inevitable cost of buying gifts, travel, the food…fear not though, I may have an article that could prove to be a bit valuable…8 different apps that you can actually use year round but this article is marketing it towards the holiday season. I was most excited to try Santa’s Bag but unfortunately it’s not available for Window’s phones (truly the only negative of Window’s phones has to be the lack of apps made available). It has a countdown until Christmas, it’s password protected, and lets you create budgets and lists of gifts. If you use the app appropriately, it will even save all the gifts that you have gotten for people so no more cruising through Eddie Bauer trying to remember if you have already given your stepdad that exact same fleece 4 years in a row…

There are apps that range from hotel, to food, to clothes, to toys…check out the article and if you download any of the apps, let me know in the comments below. And damn you iPhone users and having a better store…but I will just have to live with having a superior phone 🙂

Mental Wellness: The Should and the Push

I recently stumbled on a blog from a guy who runs in the fast group at run club. I never talk to him and rarely talk to anyone in the fast group (or any group outside of my friend and I) mainly because I don’t feel “good” enough to converse with people in the fast group. These guys are like royalty to me. They run high mileage, big races, fast times…and I just sort of…well run, occasionally. Times that I put up aren’t impressive, just a bit above average and it’s to be expected. I don’t put a lot of work or effort into my fitness. Yet I expect to excel at races.

I keep finishing races feeling like I should feel happy and accomplished but I actually feel disappointed. I’m disappointed with my marathon. I should have trained harder, I should have ran faster, and I should have finished within my time frame. I had it in me. I’m disappointed with my half marathon. I should have ran faster out of the gates, I should have put some extra training miles in last week, and I should have been able to break 1:50 which would have allowed me to place.

And I should remember all of this every single day when I’m being lazy reading blogs and watching tv instead of running and cross training. If I want to be even considered a smidge of a runner, I should be busting my ass and run as often as possible.

Getting to see a glimpse into someone’s mind who is a far superior athlete than you is fascinating. Slightly motivating. Definitely overwhelming.

I should stop reading his blog and wash my dishes and prep for tomorrow which should include laying clothes out to get an early morning run in.

Physical Wellness: Kansas Half Marathon

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PR-ed by 7 1/2 minutes which I think is not too shabby for being exactly 2 weeks post marathon.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to do this race – since it was so soon after my full but I had in my mind that I wanted to if I was feeling good. The company putting the race on used our Thursday night run club to get promo pictures for the event so I felt a little more “obligation” to do the race since I was part of the promo. I learned in this race that I’m not good at running with a pace group. I went into the race thinking, “Alright, I’m going to try and stick with the 1:55 group and if I can’t keep up, then I can back off a bit and hopefully finish in a sub-2.” Plus the winds were supposed to be 15-20 mph (thanks Kansas) so I wasn’t expecting to PR. So that’s what I tried doing but I just got so irritated with everyone. People kept trying to block me out, a guy almost spit on me (which really pissed me off – we were right beside a wooded area, if you need to spit, fine but don’t do it towards people when you have the option to do away from people), and I just generally really was irritated by being around a lot of people. See, I love the silence and solitude of running not necessarily the social aspect of running. I generally train by myself, do runs early in the morning when people in general are not out, and get to relish in silence. Being around lots of people is not my, well, jam.

I stuck with my pace group for Miles 1 (8:51) and 2 (8:32) and by Mile 3 (8:16) I had pulled away from the group and was running my own race. The miles were clicking by 4 (8:20), 5 (8:23), 6 (8:18), 7 (8:17). I was feeling good and the strong winds were really not getting me that much. Until I hit around Mile 8 (8:37). Man that was strong wind and it was reflected in my times. There was a section of the race that we ran on the levee and I could tell running to the turn around point that I was running with the wind so I tried as much as I could to pick up my pace and try to gain as much time as I could because I knew as soon as I got to the turn around point I would be running into the wind. (Mile 9, 8:49, Mile 10, 8:38, Mile 11 9:06). Getting off the levee I knew I just had some weaving through residential area and then I was done. But the wind and me being unprepared didn’t help me out and I could feel myself fading (Mile 12 8:45). I saw the last mile and tried to kick but we were weaving through a playground and an underground tunnel and random steep (but short hills) and I just couldn’t find my kick (Mile 13 9:08) but once I saw the finish line I just started going. I pulled my headphones out (something I have found I like to do when crossing the finish line) and heard someone say “Wow she looks like she is running a 100 meter dash!” and I assume this person was talking about me because I wasn’t in a group/cluster of people. That was pretty cool to hear.

I crossed the finish line and saw a 1:52:45 (official time 1:52:43) and felt pleased. I wish I would have gone out a bit harder at the beginning and I wish I had more left in me to have a strong sub 8 minute finish for my last mile. But I can say that as I finished I did feel like I put everything I had on that race course and I’m really glad that I didn’t try to stick with my pace group. I don’t think I will be using pacers for future races besides knowing where to line up.

So what’s next? I’m going to take some time off and start looking at spring races to do. I’ve had in my mind that I’d like to hit a 1:45 half marathon. I would also like to complete the 39.3 challenge that is 3 half marathons in about 5 weeks – all local races. My only drawback from doing this is that I hate running races in Kansas with the crazy wind. But for the immediate future, I am going to get back into hitting my workouts hard and keep running and working towards that 1:45 half!

Spiritual Wellness: Death

I tend to be the type of person that needs to listen to something to fall asleep. For the past few months, I put on an episode of Freaks and Geeks and fall asleep within the first 15 minutes of the show. I struggled sleeping last night as it was insanely hot in my apartment from it being almost 90 degrees outside yesterday. So as I was tossing and turning, I was listening to Freaks and Geeks and listening to Lindsey and Sam’s dad use the good old scare tactic approach to parenting. He kept telling them that he knew someone who had done a devious behavior and that person died “because” of it and it got me thinking…

Is death really a scare tactic? We don’t know anything is certain in life except death. Father time is unbeaten. You can go your entire life and live as healthy as possible and you will still die. Sure you can make arguments about your quality of life but to me that is a different discussion. When people say smoking will kill you and that’s why you shouldn’t smoke, is that really the best scare tactic to use? Because I could be sitting here typing up this blog post and could die at any moment or I could go out and sky dive and die. Sure there are things that can increase your chance of dying sooner but regardless of what you do in your life and how you live your life, you are still going to die.

It seems a bit morbid, doesn’t it, to talk about death? The one thing that every single human being experiences – all humans experience life and death and you could argue that those two things are our only true shared experiences in life. From a baby dying a moments after birth to an elderly person passing away peacefully and every single death in between. Once we are born, we are just passing time until we die. What you do with that time makes your life special and unique and I don’t want to make it seem like it doesn’t matter – it does. But death is inevitable. So why does Lindsey and Sam’s dad use it as a scare tactic? Why do we keep trying to outrun it? Why do we feel so scared by it? Why does talking about it seem so taboo?

Occupational Wellness: How a Marathon Impacted My Work

I’ve done a few of these posts, tying in how my marathon training was impacting different aspects of my life. It’s honestly hard not have a marathon impact your life. Now that my marathon is done, I wanted to take this time to reflect on how it impacted my work.

Pros:

  • If this did nothing else for me, it helped me get used to being the one setting goals and reaching milestones. One of the things I think I have struggled with the most in my professional life is the lack of structure. Gone are the syllabus days of college and grad school where every week was planned out for you by someone else. It is now my responsibility to plan my weeks out and get things accomplished. This marathon definitely helped me feel more confident in doing this task.
  • Helped me dream big. I still have impostor syndrome at work. I almost constantly live in fear for the day they all wake up and realize that I’m not actually who they think they are. I’m not this analytical, data guru. I’m just someone that somehow got this job. Signing up for my marathon made me feel that similar way, but actually accomplishing it and getting it done…man. I don’t feel like I’m a marathoner but I feel like yeah, I’m a runner.
  • Focused yet flexible. I had a focused goal with my marathon. However, as my injuries started to pile on, I need to remain more flexible in my training while still remaining focused on my overall goal. This is definitely something that I have seen myself get more comfortable with at work. I used to be very focused and anything that would throw me off my course would cause me to get distress. Now I’m getting better (I’m not great at it) at being able to be more flexible with my goals and my work that I’m doing.

Cons:

  • Towards the end, I was in physical pain. And being at work while you are in physical pain is not fun and I felt distracted.
  • I spent a lot of time thinking about my marathon and my marathon training
  • I spent a lot of time eating because … well … I was hungrier that usual

Ok, I’ll admit that I was really stretching for those cons but the pros were all heartfelt and honest. I really feel like training for my marathon and completing it was really valuable and useful for me. I’m really glad that I did it. Because there is nothing to give you confidence than knowing that you can push yourself to get up at 5 am every Sunday for 4 1/2 months and run by yourself and be the one pushing yourself to accomplish your goal.

I think my next post should be the impact of my marathon on financial wellness. Spoiler – I spent more money while training for my marathon!