Slice of Life: The Problem with Routine 28 of 31

For the month of March, I'll be writing with the Slice of Life community. Disclaimer: I'll be writing every day so the writing will be a bit unpolished most days. Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for bringing this community together and for inspiring me to try to find the stories that surround me each day.

Today wasn’t a great day at the gym.  I suppose the problem started at the end of the day as someone asked a question that made me wonder a bit myself so I had to work to learn more.  It wasn't a part of my plan for the end of the day, but I couldn't let it go.  When I finally left school, I really didn't want to go to the gym.  I could've easily justified skipping out.  However, I give myself way too much freedom to cancel my workout.  The fact that I was late wasn't going to be enough.

With a full evening still ahead, I tromped into the gym glad I made it but, wishing I was somewhere else.  The day had been long, I was tired, and there still was a lot to do before I could call the day done.  I needed to prepare two meals when I got home and put the polish back on my house when I finally got home, so I decided I'd need to modify my routine a bit.  I needed to be out of the gym by 6:30 if I stood any chance to accomplish my to-do list, and I was already late.  It made sense to make a few adjustments to the schedule.

Deciding I should concentrate on the part of the workout which seemed most important, I planned to dedicate the time to the elliptical and the treadmill.   As soon as I got on the elliptical I felt more tired than usual.  I cranked up the beat to my music, tried to distract myself with subtitles on the televisions, and worked to just focus on the speed I was working, but it wasn't going well.  I managed to finish that part of my workout without too much of a problem, but moving to the treadmill was a different story.

For me doing any part of my workout for twenty minutes keeps me from dying of boredom.  I work to improve the distance on the treadmill at the end of that twenty minutes.  My routine has been to walk three minutes and then run three minutes, walk three minutes and run three minutes, and repeat for the time.  To be done in a timely fashion, I had skipped the bicycle and gone straight to the treadmill.  I don't know if this was the change that got me, but as soon as I went into my first three minutes of running I knew it just wasn't going to work today.

I decided that for today it made sense adjust the running to two-minute intervals.  I wasn't happy with myself, but I reminded myself I almost didn't even make it to the gym.  As I continued my twenty minutes, I felt I had made the right decision to adjust my time.  For whatever reason, today the workout was exactly that:  a WORK out.

Adjusting the time was the right decision for today, but it made me think about how often I finish a workout knowing I really could have done more.  As I reflected some more, I began to think there were days that I came in and the elliptical was a breeze, the bike practically a rest, and the treadmill minutes not a problem, but I never changed this routine.  If I was willing to adjust on a hard day, shouldn't I be adjusting to do more on an easy day?  Shouldn't I be upping the challenge of the workout on the days where it was possible?  I'd become a creature of habit, forgetting about the real purpose behind my time at the gym.

As teachers, it is easy to get caught up in our routines.  These routines are essential to day-to-day practice, help students to know their part in learning, and provide opportunities for next steps in learning.  However, if we aren't careful we can get caught up in our routines and forget the urgency in learning.  We can forget to adjust when things get hard or push a little more when the learning is going well.

As weeks go by at the gym, I really should be upping my expectations of myself.  Yes, there will be days that will be hard like this one, but if I'm just going through the motions then I'm forgetting the purpose.  The same is true in my work, I want to remember to ask myself if I am pushing hard enough toward opportunities for growth.


  1. It must be something in the air. I wrote about routine today also. I hear you. Routine is necessary but we can't let go of the excitement and joy of learning new things and fostering that excitement and joy in our children.


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