Not The Cool Kid

I spend so much of my time around runners or people I’ve bullied into being runners (or at least running regularly) that I sometimes forget that it’s not standard to run every day or to run for at least an hour every time you lace up. Asking me if I’m running today is akin to asking me if I brushed my teeth; almost guaranteed that I did or will on both. I was reminded of my relative eccentricity today when some of the residents and other medical students asked me if I wanted to join them for dinner. When I asked about time frame, they said 5 pm. In moments like these, I always have a rapid, painful internal struggle not unlike a middle school kid. Of course I want to go to dinner with my colleagues and be part of the club. Of course I want to destress and eat delicious food. But here in Lewiston, I run at 5 pm for at least an hour or until the light fades.

When I responded “Oh, I’d love to but I am planning on running this afternoon,” I was met with the familiar “But you can run tomorrow and dinner is way more fun!” This always puts me in an odd position. Of course I can run tomorrow (and I will) but I also need to run today because I have crazy goals and it’s all about the miles run…and no normal person gives a shit about this answer. And as I’ve done a hundred times, I thanked them so much for the invite and said I hoped I could make it next time. I do legitimately hope this, but the invite has to fall on a rest day or a day when I’ve run in the morning.

As I was running (and not socializing) this afternoon, I started to wonder about the repercussions of always saying no to such things. In my life at home, almost everyone assumes I’ll show up to things after my workout or doesn’t bother inviting me to things that are in direct conflict. What happens, however, in two short years when I’m out in a Residency trying to build important bonds with colleagues and Attendings? Am I hurting my career and networking by skipping out on these things? Will I miss out on the personal bonds that are so critical to sanity and survival in medicine?

Anyone have any experiences (positive or negative) with situations like these? How do you balance running and other social obligations?

6 thoughts on “Not The Cool Kid

  1. Cris

    Hi – lurker here, coming out of the woodwork. Honestly, it’s always a balancing act, but I’ve found that if you compromise the things that you do for yourself (i.e. running) regularly for social obligations, you end up hostile, and not getting the most out of the social opportunities you attend. I’d suggest declining on the grounds that you need to train, and explaining your regrets for the conflict. In much the same way you would if you were committed to volunteer somewhere or needed to take care of a family member. You can also respond by organizing another get-together at a time that does work for you.

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    1. Runner Under Pressure Post author

      I’m so glad you de-lurked! Nice to meet you. I think you’re spot on about being social for the sake of being social; I’m social by nature but only if I’ve been exercised for the day! It’s something I’ll need to revisit when I’m in a place for 4 to 5 years and relationships matter but right now, I’m at a site for at most 14 weeks and at a point in my running where it just matters to me. It’s also something I need to pay attention to as I apply for Residency; I want people who go for runs THEN go out for beers. Those are my people and that’s where I’m likely to be happiest.

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  2. foxrunsfast

    I’ve sent your post to my brother-in-law who is now just about done with residency. I’ll let you know what he reports back. In the meantime, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head: You want people who go for runs THEN go out for beers. They are your people. You just have to find them!! Don’t try to make yourself fit into a specific role/stereotype – instead keep a lookout for others that are like you and bond with them. You’ll be much happier πŸ™‚

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    1. Runner Under Pressure Post author

      People survive residency?! πŸ˜‰ I look forward to his perspective. The upside of my quandary is that I now have a question for potential residency programs!

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  3. Ryan

    I agree with the first comment that you will get a lot more out of the social events you do attend if you pick and choose events that don’t make you feel like you are compromising your training. I think it would be better for networking purposes to be relaxed and happy to be out when you can make the event rather than getting to all the dinners/happy hours but being stressed and wound-up about missing the run. Once you get to the point of being in one place for 4-5 years it won’t take long to find and make the social/work connections with the workout first, drink later people – they seem to exist in every career field.

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    1. Runner Under Pressure Post author

      Totally agree; I yam who I yam, right? I seem to have made it this far by being the runner so hopefully it’s something I can continue to balance going forward.

      Reply

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