At Kellogg School of Management, students maintain a rigorous academic schedule. On top of their classes, study groups and homework, many students in the Executive MBA (EMBA) Program also balance high-level careers and families. Making the commitment to extra activities like social lives, service and fitness can be an adjustment.
Current EMBA student Ana Vazquez, a pediatric dentist with a private practice in Indiana, managed to find the time and energy to train for the 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. We asked Ana to share her secrets to work-life-study balance.
How important is running to you?
Managing stress is essential to staying healthy during the MBA program. I believe physical activity is one of the best ways to deal with the pressures of life and school. As a pediatric dentist, I’m always “on stage.” My patients don’t want to know I’ve had a bad day or if I had to study for statistics or finance. Plus, let’s face it, the food at the Allen Center is really good, and it’s everywhere! I want to maintain my weight and feel healthy without having to say no to the outstanding 24 hour snacks.
Was training for this marathon different from previous races you’ve run?
Training for a marathon is no different than working on your MBA. You must want it, visualize it and be willing to work for it. Time management becomes a priority! During the week, I run early in the morning at 5 a.m. so I will have time to study after work. I do one long run a week, usually on Sundays. During school weekends, I still have time to socialize and hang out with my classmates.
When you began the EMBA program, did you think you would have to sacrifice your fitness routine?
For some of us, it has been a while since we finished school, and it takes some time to adapt to the student life again. I thought maintaining a fitness routine was going to be almost impossible, as incorporating studying with a full time job was already challenging! There have been sacrifices. I had to sacrifice swimming since it is a sport that does not come naturally to me, but I have fun cycling and running. I’ve been able to run three half marathons and 10-5k races during the EMBA Program.
What’s your running routine when you stay at the Allen Center?
Running along Lake Michigan from campus to the Evanston-Chicago border and back is four miles. I also enjoy running through downtown Evanston in the morning when the streets are quiet.
Did you run on a charity team?
Yes, I raised money for Chicago Youth Centers. Their mission resonates with me: to help kids in underserved communities build the academic, social and emotional competencies and achievements needed to be successful. I learned about CYC through my classmate, Brian Donahue, who is a passionate board member.
What is the best way to support a marathon runner?
Understand the reason and respect it. Social hours with my classmates at the Allen Center are priceless, and it’s hard to go to bed at 9 p.m. because you must get up early to run. Be supportive and let the runner go to bed!
Also, during the race, don’t ever say, “You’re almost there!” because we know we are not. Say something like, “Looking good,” “See you at the finish line” or “Proud of you.” Or in my case, “Running this race easier than Managerial Finance II!” or “Way to ‘negotiate’ the 26.2 miles!”
Ana finished the 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon with her daughter on Sunday, October 13, 2013. This was Ana’s second marathon.