Have you ever heard of a runner’s wall? I believe it is something teachers have too. For those that aren’t marathon runners, to be honest I’m not one either, the term “runner’s wall” or “hitting the wall” is used when a runner’s stored energy (glycogen) within their muscles is depleted. Apparently this happens around the 20 mile mark (32 km) (Google). Wild, especially when you know that there are marathons much longer than that, over days even.
My point is that teachers have a runner’s wall that we often hit/run into too. My new analogy is: being a teacher is like being a marathon runner. A year of teaching is the longest distance one could ever train for and participate in. Along the way I’m sure I’ve hit minor walls, probably at least once a term, at minimum four times a year. That’s a lot!
The feeling of energy being depleted is a real thing, it’s kind of a scary feeling for me, because sometimes it feels permanent because I don’t know when I’m going to overcome it. I’ve had days when I physically and mentally cannot get out of bed. Some days I’ll just cry it out but I cannot actually pinpoint my source of grief, it all feels generalised, which also feels stupid, although it isn’t.
As a teacher, I don’t think your energy is actually for you. It is for the 100s of children you see everyday, to be able to handle their energy or lack thereof. It is for your colleagues who are either with you or slightly delay you, not intentionally, we all have a lot on our plate, but sometimes someone elses work affects your progress. It is for your management, to keep up with all the things that they expect from you. The energy is hardly ever for you personally, it really is to keep up with demands assigned to you.
So, articles suggest that to lessen the chances of hitting the runner’s wall, you obviously need to train your body to withstand long periods of running so that your body can get used to saving that energy, or not using it up as quickly. They also suggest that a few days before, the runner should fill up on tonnes of carbohydrates, so that your body can store it. For teachers, I am not sure hey. Maybe it is literal years of experience, because I do not know how you train to use energy for people. Yes, we speak a lot about setting boundaries, but even so people surprise you. We speak of self-care and finding moments to recharge oneself, I have had amazing weekends of rest, only to have my Monday completely shattered by some random event, Unprovoked!
As much as I wish that I could pace myself, sometimes the clock is not in my favour. I tend to lean on people to remind me to slow down, in the form of delegation and sometimes saying no and intentionally taking a step back from certain events and just being the “crack filler” as a colleague of mine would say, meaning be there only when there is a missing piece that needs to be filled momentarily.
Recovery isn’t easy but it is necessary and it is going to happen, hopfully during the holidays and the long weekends that we countdown towards. What a way to live …
Thank you for your time. Much love and appreciation!