Right, now that we’ve got the formalities out of the way, let’s get to business: Last year I took part in Juneathon, the self-proclaimed ‘annual festival festival of activities and excuses’. The rules are simple:
Click the link to join
Run or do some form of exercise every day
Blog/tweet about it within 24 hours
Visit other blogs and leave comments, giving your support to other participants.
So for 30 days last year, I lifted weights, ran, and trained martial arts – and I blogged about it on one of my other blogs. I learnt a lot during this time – mostly that I’m not 20 anymore – but also a lot about my body and how to take care of it. The main issue was recovery, getting enough sleep, and dealing with minor injuries – but I persisted, and as a first-timer, succeeded – by not giving up. Which can of course be a perfectly acceptable option.
And as there is a similar challenge in January, called Janathon, I am going for this again – and I know it’s one day longer, which slightly scares me. Sounds somehow competitive – but it’s not. Some people sometimes win prizes doing this – but that’s not what I’m interested in. As you may know I’m fairly sporty, but I’m fiercely uncompetitive and I am very sceptical of the educational value of competition. This is also not a new year’s resolution – I’ve been training to plans like this for over 25 years, and it’s just another one; albeit a slightly more prescriptive one than usual.
So why write about this here? I like a personal challenge, especially when it’s one where I have to overcome just myself. And as I wrote above – it was an educational experience last time as well, and I hope for one again.
Rest assured, I will not update my blog every day about this, but over the next 31 days, I will post my observations about my own learning during this experience. I will also tweet my daily progress (and struggles) under the hashtag #janathon. Should you want to follow, or indeed take the challenge yourself – just follow the link and go for it.
We are doing a mental health awareness week at work this week. It has a special focus on physical activity and its positive effects on your mental health. As readers of my earlier posts will know, I am very much a proponent of non-competitive physical activity, and I am very aware of its impact on my well being. So, I did a stress test to assess my current stress level – and I was surprised to see that I’m only a 15 out of 40 – couldn’t find a proper explanation unpacking the score (so much for online tests), but basically I was pleased to know that my head wasn’t at danger of exploding just yet. But what a difference a day makes – I had a complicated day at work (in addition to running up to the annual www.placenet.org.uk conference, which I will chair – check #placenet13 on Twitter), and left feeling deflated. I timed out for letting steam off in jiu jitsu practice, but used another tried and tested coping mechanism – weeding my garden. So on the train this morning, I’ve retested – and let me put it this way: I’m not a 15 anymore. I consider myself fairly resilient – powered by my extensive patience (I’m not exaggerating – I’m just completing a four year lobbying effort), which is I think is the one key attribute I need working in academia. But I’m human after all, and in the spirit of mental health week, I’m sharing that I had to do some recovering, and still do. I’m glad to have a great team at work – and my focus is often to look out for how they feel, as it will strongly affect the way they work. Performance comes from having the capacity to perform – and if you don’t feel well, it won’t happen. You can only soldier on for that long, and I see it as a key management responsibility to enable people to perform, rather than trying to make them. What’s my lesson, besides recognising yet again that I don’t have super powers? It’s admitting it in public, and reminding ourselves that we’e all only human, and that we sometimes struggle – and that that’s alright. So there.