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Getting a Head Start

August 22, 2007

"Man, am I tired," a succession of students has lamented to me all week.
"Really, how come?"
"Our coach just ran us and ran us."

Every year, I watch bemusedly as students returning to school and preseason sports limp into my office, bedraggled from workouts for soccer, field hockey and the like for which they seem physically and mentally unprepared. Inquiries into their summer training regimen elicit blank stares. They seem incredulous that their coaches would AGAIN emphasize running and conditioning, as though this year he or she might say "Hey, let's kick the ball a little and then sit down and talk about soccer," rather than subjecting them to wind sprints and timed miles.

Consider the story of the two hunters running from a bear. The one asks the other "Are you nuts, we cannot outrun a bear!" The other replies, "You're right. I'm not. I'm just trying to outrun you." A few days of running the week before practice could have avoided all of this suffering. The funny thing is that folks don't necessarily have to be in perfect shape; they just have to be in better shape than their teammates.

So, are you going to repeat this process for school, trying to gear up for the demands of junior or senior year with your "mental muscles" out of shape from a summer of relaxation and rest from intellectual rigor? Academically, students often experience the same whiplash in going from zero to sixty when school resumes. Cumulative classes such as languages and math start off much better if a touch of review is done before the first day of class. Consider rereading a few notes form last year. Watch a movie in Spanish. Read Le Petit Prince in French. Go over a couple of quizzes from last year (if your mother didn't throw them out over the summer.)

Remember, you don't have to be 100% ready, just less out-of-shape than your classmates. A head start is all you need!

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