Why grad school is like training for a (half) marathon

April 15 is fast approaching, which means it’s almost thesis submission time for many of us. The process of putting the final touches on your thesis can be overwhelming, because you want to make sure that every detail is perfect, and that you’re very prepared.

On the other side of things, as April 15 approaches, it also means that summer is near! The warmer months when you can enjoy the sunshine, ice cream, and hopefully a short break from your studies. One of my main goals for this summer is to run a half marathon. As I’ve been training and maintaining a fairly regimented running schedule, I’ve come to realize that training for a half marathon isn’t unlike submitting your thesis in grad school. Here is why I believe they’re related, and what it takes to complete them both.

You spend all of your days working toward one major goal. Whether it’s thesis submission or race day, it’s common to almost constantly think about that deadline and what needs to be done before then. It’s both the light at the end of the tunnel and the reason for many late nights or early mornings. The work along the way may not always be the most glamourous, but you continue on because you know that when the major goal is achieved, it will all be worth it.

It takes dedication and motivation. Grad school isn’t for everyone, and neither is running a marathon. They both take a lot of determination, persistence, and drive to get the job done. You have to want it enough to achieve it, and you’ll certainly test your strength of will along the way.

You need a solid strategy to implement as you go. The only way to make sure you’re ready is to create a plan that you’re able to stick to. You can create deadlines with your thesis supervisor, running dates with your running partner, and anything else in between which will all contribute to you staying on track. It’s definitely alright to veer off the path a little bit during your journey (which happens quite often), but the more prepared you are for these slight bumps in the road, the better off you’ll be.

At the end of the day, it’s completely up to you. To be successful in thesis- or marathon-mode, you can do it with someone by your side for support, but its completion is ultimately up to you and what you’re capable of doing. Now is the time to be pushing boundaries and realizing your full potential!

So, while grad school and training for a half marathon may seem very different at first glance, to be successful in either domain takes many of the same principles and motivations. As April 15 approaches, keep pushing forward – you’re almost there, and summer sunshine is just around the corner!


Banner image by @yogipetals // @gradlifemcgill

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