Take time for yourself — you deserve it

Dec 8th, 2022

Nadia Kashetsky and Katie Harris

Medical school, like many other programs at Memorial University, can be immensely stressful. Studying, clinical work, research, extracurricular activities and preparing for the future all place significant demands on learners' time, which can be overwhelming. Learners are taught the importance of making time for personal health and wellness, but how can they put that into practice?

Everyone is different — but for us, exercise is incredibly important for maintaining personal wellness. Running gives us an opportunity for goal setting outside of academics, a way to make dedicated time for ourselves and our friends, and a chance to be part of a wonderful community.

Committing to training

We met in our first year of medical school at Memorial. A seasoned varsity swimmer from UNB and Queen’s and trained in physiotherapy, Nadia came into medical school intending to run a marathon. Katie described herself as a “fair-weather runner” who had never raced past the half-marathon distance of 21.1 km.

Two women wearing running gear are standing next to each other. They are smiling and holding up their medals, received after completing the Toronto Marathon. A red banner with the marathon logo on it is behind them.

Once in St. John's together, Nadia convinced Katie to get a set of spikes for winter running and tackle larger distances during training. What began as after-school laps around Long Pond became a set habit of Sunday long runs on the T’Railway during their second, mostly virtual and social distanced, year. Training alone was stress relieving and meditating; training together provided much needed social interaction. After sharing that positive experience, we decided to run a marathon together as a goal for our third year of our undergraduate program.

Running a marathon takes months of preparation. Training plans can be 12-16 weeks long with a baseline level of cardiovascular endurance, and many people train all year round. There are several key elements to any running plan including easy and fast speeds, and short and long distances. If you're interested in taking it on, there are many awesome free training plans available online, for all running levels.

All that training can be difficult to fit into a medical learner's busy schedule. Successfully running marathon requires hours of training every week and committing to yourself to prioritize health and wellness, even when there are intense demands on your time. While running a marathon may seem like just another thing to be stressed about, we actually found it to be re-focusing — a form of mental cross-training that made us better students.

Take the plunge

In May 2022, we competed together in the Toronto Marathon. Nadia finished with a time of 3:17:19, 19th of almost 900 females, which qualifies her, among the select few runners in Newfoundland and Labrador to run the Boston Marathon in 2023. Katie finished with a time of 3:47:00, well under her goal of less than four hours.

Nadia also ran the Halifax Bluenose Marathon in November 2021. However, after taking a wrong turn at kilometer 35, she accidentally cut approximately two kilometers off of the race. At the finish line, Nadia brought the issue up to officials and insisted that they remove her name from the podium.

Our experience training for and running the Toronto Marathon, both together and apart, has solidified our love for the sport. As we move forward in our careers, prioritizing regular personal time will become even more vital.

After our experiences, we have some advice for the learners wondering if they should sign up for that race — if they have the time, if they can do it, if it will be worth it. Take the plunge. You deserve it.