Why Running Makes Me A Better Librarian

Why Running Makes Me A Better Librarian

by Alphild Dick, Senior Editor

alphild-dickI’m not fast. I don’t wear a GPS watch. I don’t track my mileage on MapMyRun and I usually wear my old winter reading sweatshirts on cold runs rather than the high tech gear my family buys me for the holidays. But I put one foot in front of the other, four or five days out of the week, and that is good enough for me to consider myself a runner.

We write a lot about our library jobs (or how to get them) here at INALJ, but it’s important to consider how our outside lives impact our professional careers.  Self-care helps us pursue, build, and maintain our careers, just as continuing education or networking does. After all, the things we to nurture ourselves helps us live well, feel good, and keep us energized for the multitude of challenges we face on any given day.

  • Running has kept me from curling up into a ball of nerves throughout two years of graduate school, months of job-hunting, and three years working in public libraries (plus all the personal stuff that life entails). Running isn’t always easy to do, but then again, neither is being a librarian.

Being a librarian requires you to push yourself and challenge your expectations of you abilities. I want to be a great librarian, but that doesn’t always come easily or naturally. Hence, I run for the following reasons:

  • Running helps me process. The first few minutes of my run invariably involves me replaying stressful events from the day (Several times, usually.). All jobs have stressors, but when you are working in service roles, stressors stack up with particular speed. Running gives me a way to handle those things that don’t go just right. Sometimes I cringe about problems; sometimes I catalog them for later thought; and sometimes I reconsider my approaches to them. Running takes anxiety and frustration, and lets me channel it into something more productive: coming up with solutions.  Problem solving is an essential librarian skill, and based on my experience, solutions born of endorphins are much better than those born of stress hormones.
  • Running recharges me. A friend of mine jokes that she’d never call me right after I get off work unless it was an emergency. “You’re better to talk to if you unwind,” she said. As an introvert, working a service desk is taxing. After a particularly long day on the desk, I feel slightly stunned by ALL THE INTERACTION. It has gotten easier, sure, but so much face-time taps me out. However, somewhere between lacing up my shoes and untying them, running brings me back to center, back to a place where I can love what I do, day after day.
  • Running allows me to be myself. I run with friends often–which I love–but I also cherish solo runs. When I’m at work, I wear my work face (enthusiastic, courteous, patient). When I’m with friend and family, I wear my friend-and-family face (bookish, smart-alecky, quirky). These facets are authentically part of my personality, but it is a relief to not have to negotiate. When I’m running, I’m free to whatever I am feeling with no pretenses.  This makes it infinitely easier to be the things I need to be for other people when I have that time for just myself.

Of course, running is the way I help myself be a better librarian? What do you do that helps you?