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Why I signed up for a half marathon on a whim

A few weeks ago, I sat at my desk after a long day of editing and realized the back and neck pain I was feeling went beyond a normal day’s strain. In favour of meeting a number of tight deadlines, I had chosen to skip my regular workouts and remain stationed in front of my desktop. In a few short weeks my body was already feeling the wear and tear of that decision, and I realized I needed to change up my routine. 

While by far not the only profession to spend the majority of one’s day at a desk, academia can take an immense toll on your body physically. Research has shown that sitting for too long correlates with numerous health concerns, including risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Adding regular exercise to one’s routine has many health benefits, including improvement of cognitive function, reduction in anxiety and depression and increase in overall physical health, thus reducing long-term risk of health problems. 

My consistency with regular workouts varies depending on my stress levels and the number of deadlines I have to meet. Ironic considering exercise has been shown to reduce stress. I realized I required external motivation to go beyond my daily dog walk. This resulted in a quick google search of “activities near me” and landing on the local half-marathon. In a few minutes, I had signed up for a half-marathon at the end of September and promptly had an external motivator to get exercising! 

Unfortunately, it is still January in Quebec and there is enough snow to ski down my driveway. So, I made a plan to cross train until the snow melts enough for half-marathon training to begin and since then I’ve kept to a workout schedule – regardless of the amount of work on my desk. A mix of snowshoeing, barre classes, yoga and the-ever-reliable daily dog walk have alleviated the backpain and renewed my motivation. Having something to look forward to and train for over the next eight months has given me a sense of excitement that I haven’t felt about exercise in a long time. Plus, it gives me something outside of my dissertation to focus on. That alone is worth the $125 registration fee. 

While it will be slow and steady – mixed with plenty of physiotherapy! – I’m looking forward to a challenge outside of academia. 

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