Preparing for the DAT can be one of the most exciting, yet challenging times during a predental’s journey to dental school. You may become overwhelmed trying to find the best study materials or choosing a DAT preparation course. What most students do not realize is that success comes from not only how you utilize materials, but your time as well. One effective strategy is to adopt the mindset of an athlete training for a major event, such as a marathon.
While interviewing for dental school, one of the questions that I asked enrolled students was: “Is there any time for extracurricular activities?” The question was one that I asked because I wanted to continue my commitment to running. Before arriving at dental school in August 2015, I had completed three full marathons and almost twenty half marathons. For many years, running was my outlet. Running gave me time each day to tune out my worries and release stress. It was my time to disconnect from the world and clear my head.
In 2010 I ran the Chicago Marathon. It was my second marathon and I shaved nearly 20 minutes off my previous time. I ran for the charity World Vision, which was a blast, and I was on top of the world. About a week after I finished, my runner’s high started to wear off and the hip pain started to settle in. Soon the pain was waking me up in the middle of the night. At the time, I had no idea that this was just the beginning of a very long road. Turns out, I had torn the labrum in my left hip but wouldn’t be properly diagnosed for nearly a year. The injury was devastating and even after several rounds of physical therapy, I find that my left side is weaker than my right. I haven’t run distance since. Here’s what I’ve learned from my injury and the years I spent recovering.
Everyone says that the key to reducing stress is balance and exercise. Well, they’re right. Dental school is one of the most stressful, frustrating, and nerve-wracking times in our lives. Without some sort of stress outlet there’s no way we’d make it. For some people, it’s pumping iron at the gym, power cleaning at Crossfit, or zenning out with some vinyasa. For me, it’s lacing up my trusty Saucony’s and hitting the trails or the pavement. I began my on-again-off-again relationship with running in the 7th grade and feel that I owe many of my accomplishments to it.