Like many of you, I am a dentist. In fact, some of you may know me from lectures I’ve given around the country on dental materials, or from the publication I’m very proud of, THE DENTAL ADVISOR. So, yes. I’m a dentist. That’s who I am.
Which begs the question: How the heck did I end up running with a goat on a balmy Saturday morning in Michigan?
Running With Goats?
There he was—thin and young, with good form and a strong, confident pace, not to mention a beard and horns. There I was—also thin, with good form and a strong, confident pace and, yes, a beard. But not quite as young, and thankfully no horns. There we were—running together and pacing each other along the long country road. Yup! It was me and a goat! (Did I mention that I’m a dentist?)
I hadn’t planned on going for a run with a goat when I woke up that morning; at the crack of dawn, as usual. I was just going to do my standard Saturday run; 10 miles or so, just enough to loosen up my legs after a long week of sitting hunched over patients.
But then, around mile 6, I saw him. Not the goat, but another runner; a younger guy who was about a quarter mile ahead of me, and running just a little faster. My competitive nature took over, so I decided to catch him. I closed to within 200 yards…160…135…100…so close! When all of a sudden, “Baaaaa!” The goat darted out across the street ahead of me and after the other runner. It was as big as a midsized poodle—and now it was beating me.
It closed in on the other guy, who finally heard the clacking of the tiny hooves behind him. He turned and came to a full stop and was absolutely baffled. He looked at me accusingly and said, in a dead-serious tone: “Is this your goat?” “No,” I said, just as seriously. “I thought it was yours.” Somehow he didn’t catch the joke—although I’m sure the goat found it hilarious. So did the goat’s owner, who was very appreciative when I brought the goat back to her farm. I finished my run alone and goat-less, but I was still laughing about it when I got back into my dental office on Monday.
Not only had I enjoyed a great workout, but I also had a fantastic story to tell everyone at work. My patients and dental team got a big kick out of it; we all had a good laugh, and it made Monday a fun and stress-free day. Most importantly, it helped me create balance.
Finding Balance is Essential to Good Health
Allow me to explain. As I’m sure we all agree, being a dentist is great—but it can be very stressful. We work hard to help people lead healthier lives and feel good about themselves and their appearance. But sometimes, I’ve noticed a tendency for myself and other dentists to focus on work too much. We often find ourselves working so incredibly hard that we forget about the other parts of our life that are just as important, if not more so. Balance is critical. And for me, almost nothing helps me maintain that sense of balance, as a human being, more than running.
Throughout 35 years of trial and error in my profession, here’s what I’ve discovered: aside from simply being in good shape, running before I come to work helps me fo-cus throughout the day. I have more energy, I move with more precision, and the day itself goes much more smoothly and quickly. The positive aura only continues after I get home. And the kind of balance I’m talking about extends even beyond the obvious health benefits. Take, for example, the stories that running brings you. That’s right—stories.
Discovering the Adventures Outside Your Office
It’s so easy for life to get stuck in a routine, regardless of your profession; running helps you snap out of it. I have adventures all over Ann Arbor, all over the beautiful state of Michigan, and all over the country—and I meet tons of interesting people while I’m at it.
I opened this essay with a story about running with a goat. But I could have just as easily written about the time I got caught with my buddy in a massive rainstorm on the muddy Potawatomi Trail. Or the time I got caught by a cop who looked like Roscoe P. Coltrane while relieving myself during the San Francisco Marathon. (Not something I make a habit of—but sometimes, you got do what you got to do.)
The point being that running has filled out my life—helped to balance it—in ways that focusing only on my career could never have done. At the same time, it has brought me closer to my family, friends, and the numerous people who I have met while running; all this serving to round out my life even more. I know what you’re probably thinking…running is easier said than done, right? Where do you find enough time in the day?
Just Do It! Get Some Kind of Exercise Into Your Daily Routine
No one said you have to start with marathons. Maybe you don’t want to do 10 or even 3 miles a day. That’s fine. In fact, it’s probably better to not overdo things. Try taking a walk at lunchtime, just a quick mile or 2. Encourage people to join you. It’s a great way for the dental office team to bond together, and everyone will be energized for the afternoon shift.
Or maybe running just isn’t your thing. No problem; it’s not for everyone. Yoga can also be very helpful, especially for dentists. As dentists, our shoulders and backs can get very tight. Yoga poses really help us maintain flexibility and strength. Even one class a week will make you feel a lot better at work.
Whether it’s running or swimming, tennis or yoga (or even gardening), most forms of exercise will help you appreciate your career—your whole life, with all its facets—more than you ever thought possible. Creating a strong foundation for success (no matter what your age) is vital, not just physically, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually too. Who knows? If you’re lucky, you might just have some really cool adventures along the way. (I know a goat out there who’s just looking for a running buddy with the “right stuff!”)
For more insight and fun stories about maintaining a healthy lifestyle in the midst of a crazy career, check out my memoir, Let’s Pick It Up a Bit, available at the following Web sites: letspickitupabit.com, amazon.com, and iBooks.
Disclosure: Dr. Farah is president of THE DENTAL ADVISOR.