THAT’S RIGHT, I SAID IT.
But before I get right down to it, I suppose I owe you a bit of a disclaimer since I’m not qualified to speak as an Athlete (three years of casual running and three organized races, but no wins or even draws, no endorsements or branding empire, and no ACL surgeries), or as an Academic (19 years of school and three diplomas, but no Nobel or Pulitzer, no patched-elbow blazer, and no cherrywood-lined office with forest green leather wing-backed chair). I’m not professing (ha) to know much about being an Athlete or an Academic. But I do know what those types of people are LIKE, just by being a lowly groupie in both categories. Having been a vocal supporter of Academics OVER Athletes all my life (despite having being an embarrassingly over-caffeinated high school cheerleader), it recently dawned on me that Athetes are, in fact, better than Academics.
Great athletes are willing to hang out with novices; but brilliant minds rarely socialize with dummies.
This week I attended a Happy Hour with the members of my beloved Run Group to celebrate our hard work and success in the Cap10K (er, my two-minute-and-fifty-two-second shortfall . . . whatever, beer is beer). Our coach, a mind-bogglingly elite ultra-marathoner, was in attendance, and she managed to stay the entire time and yak with us about whether or not we should up our next training cycle and shoot for a half marathon, now that we (er, they) have bested the 10K. Not only that, our coach brought her husband, this other mind-bogglingly elite athlete who casually took 3d place in the Open Division of the Rookie Tri. He genuinely CONGRATULATED each of us on our success with the 10K. He probably sleeps a 10K every night. But still, he was just genuinely cool about it.
Am I wrong, or does a valedictorian never grab a beer with a summer-school hanger-oner and rap about the awesomeness of getting a C on a spelling test?
Trying hard is cool. If you try hard as an athlete you are a committed, disciplined, badass. If you try hard as an academic you’re just a gunner.
I like following local celebrity athletes on Twitter (hey – did you know you can follow THIS blog on Twitter? Do it.). They post their workouts (something to aspire to), the classes that they teach (something to check out), and inspirational quotes (what, you don’t like and inspiration quote from time to time?).
Can you even imagine if some post-doc tweeted: 176xNotecards, Color-coordinated by subject, matching highlighters. (I mean, that kind of studying is awesome, but you just don’t TALK about it.)
It’s fun to re-cap a race with a fellow racer, but it’s horrible to re-cap an exam with a fellow taker.
I proudly rocked the swim cap from the Rookie Tri to my swim workouts this week, and the lifeguard at my pool struck up a conversation about the race. It was his first tri, too. We laughed about freezing before the swim, we commiserated about not wearing wetsuits, and we swapped tips for swimming workouts. It was great to meet someone who had just done the same race I had, and who could really genuinely re-cap each twist, turn, hill, and transition.
But this one time, after the first set of exams in grad school, a classmate sidled up to me at the bar and said, “So did you see the trick in Question 43? Tell me you answered A and not D.” I still have a wrinkle which resulted from the force of that death stare. If I’d been rocking the Ash Wednesday charcoal between my eyebrows, I probably could’ve created a diamond.
Better music for Athletics than for Academics
There’s a reason Nike+ and iPod termed it the “Power Song.” Because it always queues up right when you need it most, whether that’s when your trying to downshift 2/3 of the way up the hill, when you’re slogging through the 6th mile of a 10-mile long run, or lifting the 10-pounders for the 9,000th curl. I love the whole idea of the power song, and I find that they are incredibly effective. I love to collect different power songs for different occasions:
Motivation to start a long run: Opening theme from Last of the Mohicans
Last 400 meters of any run: All These Things That I Have Done by The Killers
Keeping up the pace during mile 6 of the 10-miler: You Can Have Whatever You Like by T.I.
Victorious push on a bike to the top of a monster hill, followed by well-deserved downhill coast: Man in the Mirror by M.J. (really, though, any song with finger snaps in it is alright by me!)
Anyway, you get the idea. My point is that this phenomenon doesn’t really transfer to Academics. Sure, I like listening to music while I work, but there’s no particular concerto that really hones the hell out of my focus. There’s just no comparing the motivation one can derive from the pounding gn-tsss, gn-tsss, gn-tsss and jubilant FIST PUMP of workout club jams to the mournful cry of a cello.
Calf cramp > Brain cramp.