Systematic Reviews are like Marathons

Post 3

The university I attended was not a big university, but it had everything you would need. It was a very friendly campus and you felt like you knew everyone. One of the best buildings on campus was the gym, it was just as nice as the brochure made it seem. I loved that the gym had an above ground track. It snowed a lot where I went to college, so it was nice to be able to run any time I felt like it. Running is one of my passions, I fell in love with running in middle school. My parents had me in every sport (I think I tried everything) and I wasn’t very good at any of them. I didn’t know I was a good runner; I don’t think I was at first. My dad used to wake me up early on Saturday mornings to go running when we were in middle school with my brother. I hated it. I don’t know why I continued to go but I did. They were both much faster than me and I remember them running ahead of me and I would get so mad and scream in frustration and then I would sprint as fast as I could to catch up which didn’t teach me anything about pacing. I think I started cry running immediately following the sprint. Crying out of frustration for not being able to keep up and crying from the pain of sprinting. But something kept me coming back. I always seem to be attracted to the things that don’t come easy.

Here are some other examples of things in middle school that started out dreadful. My dad is to blame for most of them, sorry dad! I am only sharing this because there is a good outcome.

To get me ready for soccer season, my dad started a workout for me called super soccer workouts. I dreaded going, especially because it was during the summer. He created a workout on our hilly middle school campus that consisted of just running and he would ration out the water. The rationing meant that I couldn’t stop for a water break whenever I felt thirsty. I had to wait to earn a few sips of water every now and then. There was also no I’m a girl and I can’t do this allowed; I was expected to keep up. I guess today this would be viewed as torture, but I credit these workouts for how I built up my endurance. He called them super soccer workouts but what it was really preparing me for was to become a decent runner, I just didn’t know it yet. Neither did he. He thought he was preparing me to become a good soccer player because soccer requires a lot of endurance.

Another memory that I have was when I was around the same age; my dad assigned me summer research projects. Each week there was a new topic, and he would bring me to the public library to spend a few hours over the summer to look for sources and to fill up a notebook with writings and references. I learned how to navigate the library well and before I had any training in research, I was able to find anything that I needed. I only had to write a page or two in the notebook. I didn’t really like having the topic selected for me and sometimes I hate to admit this now, but I dreaded having to go to the library over the summer to do research. But once I was there, I learned that I enjoyed the research process of finding information. I would sit there with a stack of books and write down notes by hand. I feel like I learned a lot through that manual and physical process of gathering sources. I wonder if students miss out on something today just jumping straight to the internet. While he called these summer research projects, this was really preparing me for the librarian I was supposed to become someday, I just didn’t know it yet. Neither did he. If he knew that, I don’t think he would have assigned them. I don’t think at the time he thought of librarianship as a career path, I think he was just preparing me for high school.

Sometimes now people say, you’re just good at everything and they sometimes get frustrated by it or by me. I don’t think it is that I am good at a lot of things, I just have confidence to know that I can do things if I work hard at them. People don’t see the work; they only see the product. That is why I like telling these childhood stories because you can start to see that some of the things that are visible now were invisible for years and took a lifetime to develop.

Looking back, it’s funny to see how much I once hated running. When I am not running, I now feel like there is a part of me missing. It’s been a part of me my whole life. I still love it to this day, but I’ll admit that I never reached my true potential in it. I was good but I never reached the elite level. I was a few seconds shy of making it to states my senior year of high school. I ran in college, but I was a varsity alternate, I never ran with the team at Nationals. I wasn’t even invited to go. I’ve done 3 marathons as an adult and after having children, but I never finished a sub-4-hour marathon although a few seconds close. But I still love it, I never did it to be good or elite, I keep coming back because it’s just part of who I am. I may appear to be better at it than the average runner and earn medals at every 5K and have even won 5K races before, but it’s not about that, it’s just a way of life where you keep showing up to the starting line and you finish what you start. I’ve learned a lot from running that I apply to my every day life.

A lot of what I teach related to library work, usually stems from something related to running. I even view systematic reviews as the equivalent to running a marathon and often use that analogy when teaching but it’s more than an analogy, it’s a lived experience, it’s everything that leads up to the systematic review or the race. You either trained or you didn’t. It’s all in the preparation.

Thanks for reading post 3!

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