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Posts Tagged ‘Isolation’

The title of this post comes directly from a ‘misquote’ inspired by ‘The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner’ – and was something I was thinking about when I was out on a bit of a run with the Trainers of Glory yesterday.

Having been ‘off’ running for a few weeks I had been a bit worried about making it through the event, but with the support of my lovely running buddies the day went well – even with the unscheduled ‘pit stop’ with the lovely chaps of the St John’s Ambulance – so I think the conclusion was that I am back on track with the plan for our ‘big’ challenge later in the year.  

Thus, whilst out in the Warwickshire countryside, my thoughts turned to my PhD journey; which is now into its 4th year, and has seen many twists and turns.  The 4th year is an ‘extension’ period, rather than being an originally planned 4th year, and is reflective of how time-consuming a PhD can be when things do not go to plan.  The concept of ‘loneliness’ is not a new one when discussing PhD students, the advice is plentiful as to making sure you have regular contact with peers, outside activities, contact with your department etc; however the ‘burden’ of responsibility towards your project, and in many cases those who have given their time and help to you, can make you feel isolated – solely responsible, dealing with issues that no-one else will understand or even be interested in… 

So, the PhD is definitely more of a marathon than a sprint – and what I’ve learnt with my running is that the support of others is key; and I realise that over my PhD history the hardest times have been when I have felt isolated.  The past week was very difficult, because I felt I had the weight of the world – or rather the project – on my shoulders, and that I had to try and solve all the problems, all at once, and all alone. Wrong.  Once I started to discuss the issues with some key people related to the work I was amazed at how much better I felt – it didn’t feel like admitting failure, nor did it result in complete panic/astonishment/horror in their eyes; just an understanding ear, a shoulder to lean on, and more offers of help than you could possibly imagine. 

To complete the analogy then, I’ve decided to see this past week as my ‘unscheduled pit-stop’ – and thus I am very hopeful that the outcome will be the same as Sunday, that I can now go on to complete successfully.  Time is growing short, and no-doubt there are more challenges ahead, but exciting times too – including the HPA2012 conference next week, and a number of sessions with staff at my case study site to keep me rooted in the active research….

Smooth Pit Stop – essential for success! (picture from uk.eurosport.yahoo.com)

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