4 non-obvious reasons why obstacle racing makes me a better professor (I think)

My paying job is as an associate professor at the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy.  I do a little bit of everything: teach, research, write, and even administer some educational initiatives.  So, what in the world makes me think (emphasis on think) that training and racing has anything to do with how I perform my job?

professor

Right from the start I’m going to dismiss the tired, overused metaphor of  “Obstacle racers overcome obstacles in life.”  You’ve heard it.  I’ve heard it.  That’s not one of the reasons and the real reasons may or may not surprise you.

  1. The Mystery.  Let’s face it, I don’t have much else going for me in the way of popularity with students, so this helps. There is intrigue with my races and training regimen and that hint of mystery clouds some of my many non-cool features.  “Maybe he’s not simply a dork.  Maybe he’s really interesting…”  Spoiler alert: I am a dork and I’m not interesting.
  2. Mind-wiping. The long solo runs.  The time in the woods.  The depletion of oxygen.  All of these somehow clear my mind and ideas emerge out of nowhere.  Some good.  Some that are merely hallucinations.  Yet, more than once I have developed ideas for articles, innovative programs, and during one early morning trail run I even changed my whole teaching approach for the week.
  3. The release.  The physical rigor of obstacle racing is diametrically opposed to the mental rigor of being a knowledge worker. I arrive at my job early each morning refreshed and ready to roll.  The physical and mental absence while I’m enduring training and racing allows me a reset that so many others in my profession unfortunately don’t seem to have.
  4. Legitimacy.  Pharmacy students have a very rigorous schedule with a lot of demands on their time.  But I teach an 8:00 a.m. class and tell students to be there promptly and have their stuff together.  Because I wake up a little after 3:00 a.m.; train for 1-2 hours; shower; cook & eat breakfast; drive 25 minutes, and am in the office by 6:00 a.m.  —- no one can legitimately suggest to me that arriving at 8:00 prepared for class is an unreasonable expectation.

Footnote 1: I have no data to back up these claims.

Footnote 2: I never claimed to be a great professor –  just better than what I might have been otherwise.

Footnote 3: Some colleagues and students might feel that I’m on the edge of lunacy and are afraid to push me too far lest I go full-blown crazy.  That could be # 5.

Footnote 4: Not unlike higher education, you experience a lot of unsavory stuff in obstacle and adventure racing.  I have learned to shrug it off and keep moving toward my goals.  That should have been # 6.

Footnote 5: Man, I really screwed up the title.  Footnotes 3 & 4 should have been unnecessary.


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