I sit here writing this post early in the morning on the first official day of my summer break. Although I still have some commitments to fulfill and loose ends to tie up at work, my major responsibilities were completed when I submitted my Spring semester grades and annual report yesterday afternoon. As a college professor, calling this a vacation isn’t quite accurate since I will be working on writing a few scientific publications over the coming months, but the lack of any formal schedule makes the end of the school year a liberating experience, and one that brings with it a feeling of freedom and great excitement for the immediate future.
Times of transition are generally difficult for me. Going from being a full-time college professor with all of the commitments and deadlines associated therein to an almost full-time dad takes some serious adjustment. Instead of having to have coherent and informative lectures prepared on a daily basis, I now have to help make sure my kids wake up, get fed, make it to school on time, and shuttle them to their various extracurricular activities. Adding a newborn baby into the mix this year adds an additional twist to make things even more interesting. It’s not that these fatherly duties are difficult or onerous, it’s just that they’re very different than my routine during the school year, and for me the switch happens virtually overnight. This can be psychologically jarring for a few weeks until I adjust to the change. That being said, being able to be a full-time dad for a few months a year is one of the wonderful things about my job, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Another twist that’s occurring this year is the fact that I have more than just a three month summer break from teaching duties coming up. You see, I’ve been awarded a sabbatical for the Fall semester, the upshot of which is that I won’t be teaching another class until January of 2011. This means that I now have essentially 8 months coming with no formal schedule. I’ll still have some administrative duties to fulfill at work starting again in September, but those will be sporadic, and I can more or less fill my time working on projects that I normally don’t have time to complete when I’m carrying a full teaching load. Some of these are going to be work-related of course (scientific publication is the name of the game in my field when it comes to job promotions), but some of them will be more personal (e.g., family stuff and my running), and some will combine my work and personal interests (e.g., this blog).
Among the many things I hope to accomplish in the coming months is to further the development of this blog. Runblogger has grown into something a bit more than a hobby over the past year, and quite frankly, I never realized at the outset just how much I’d love writing here. I owe a huge thank you to all of my readers for supporting me along the way, and the feedback I get via e-mail and post comments is hugely appreciated – this is in large part what keeps me posting.
One thing I’ve learned over the past year regarding blogging is that it’s often hard to plan out the future when it comes to free-form writing. Many of the posts I write are opportunistic, based on running related news stories that come out, or new products that are released. Gear reviews can be a bit more regularly planned based on what I’m using at any given moment, but even there I’m getting more frequent requests to review products, so that aspect of the blog should continue to grow.
However, there are three areas that I would like to develop further:
1. Exercise Science Posts. I just finished teaching a course in Exercise Physiology, and it was an exceptional learning experience for me (and hopefully for the 16 students in the class!). Although I’ve released a few podcast episodes that have incorporated lecture material from this class (e.g., VO2max, Muscle Fiber Types, Evolution of Running in Humans), things got really busy in the second half of the semester and I didn’t have time to get things out like I initially had hoped. A goal for the next few months is to begin putting out some of the lecture material that I’ve prepared in the form of podcast episodes or blog posts.
2. Scientific Paper Reviews. Scientific papers from the primary literature can often be dry and really hard to read, but ultimately they are the source of much of the information that goes into books published for more general audiences. I hope to begin adding some posts/podcast episodes where I take a particular journal article related to running and try to distill it in a more general and accessible way. I have a few in mind already, so expect to see at least a few of these come out in the coming months.
3. Personal Posts. When I first started this blog, it was largely personal in nature. I talked about my family, my running, etc. I seem to have gotten away from that a bit lately, and more of that type of material winds up on Twitter and dailymile these days. I’d like to get back to writing more personal posts like this one from time to time, and I’d love to hear if people like reading this kind of stuff. Let me know!
Whether any of the above happens will largely depend on how sleeping progresses for my newborn son (check out my new Runblogger Podcast episode for details on the baby!). I tend to work best at night, but lately I’ve spent most of my evenings with the baby, meaning that posting time has been more unpredictable, so I’m fully expecting that a degree of opportunism will have to persist when it comes to this blog!
Well, that’s it for now – off to spend some time as a Dad!