The Will to Persist by Dr. Tiffany Davis

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Dr. Tiffany Davis is a Teaching Assistant Professor and Higher Education Master’s Program Coordinator in the Department of Leadership, Policy and Adult and Higher Education at North Carolina State University. Tiffany is passionate about all aspects of professional supervision as well as preparing the next generation of Student Affairs Professionals. 


Last year, I thought up a running challenge. I would participate in one 5k race per month with the goal to make the 12th race the Disney Princess race in Orlando, FL. Now there are a couple of things about this challenge. 1. I don’t run. 2. I don’t like to run. 3. I don’t run. So you can see the problem already. In order for this challenge to work, I had to start in February and commit. And I did! I ran the Race for the Roses in Raleigh, NC. But did I mention that I hadn’t been to the gym since 2013?!? There were all types of hills in this course, but I didn’t die. Before the race I asked Jesus to be an inhaler, some lungs, feet and knees. But I finished and I burned nearly 1k calories in the 1:10 that it took me to finish.

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I would love to say that I stuck to my challenge, but the reality of the situation is that I did not. With NASPA and ACPA and the end of the semester, I just did not have the time or the motivation to keep finding races. But, even with all the apparent obstacles, I was not going to give up on the Princess run. So I continued the training with the Dirty Girl Run in May. However, my goal of a monthly race, at this point was adding pressure to my already busy life. And, as we all do, I negotiated with myself and thought, I could still get in the gym, right? WRONG!

Fast forward to May. The Dirty Girl Race was upon me and guess who was not sticking to any type of workout or training program. Again, this girl! It was muddier, tougher, hotter, and longer than I remember from the previous year. I made it, but I felt every muscle in my body…even parts that I didn’t realize had muscles. I finished, I did. I was so upset with myself for not preparing for this race. I was miserable most of the time.

You would think that these two races would cause me to sit down and reevaluate this whole pseudo-challenge, but I have already signed up for a Color Run in October. And I have made the decision to actually train for it. I am not sure that I will be able to run all of it. I am no where near that skill level, but I’m hoping to at least be able to jog a portion in my cute tutu, high socks, and side ponytail (because let’s be honest, that’s why I organized a team and am doing the race, right?). I still want to participate in the Princess race, even as a walker, but I want to be a fast walker. So I must commit to training more than I have for the previous races.

Although my original challenge has been delayed, I am reminded about how important it is to regroup and reevaluate while pursuing important goals. Personally and professionally, there is always a time to think about where we wanted to be, where we are, and what we need to do to get the outcomes we want. I will keep going because I know it is something I want to do. I sign up for the races that interest me and make it fun in the process. I push through and I find the will to persist, because meeting those goals matter to me — even if it looks different at the end than how I envisioned it.


I am reminded of a walker’s headband during the Race for the Roses: “Run. Walk. Crawl. Finish.”

Who knows? Maybe I might even learn to run and like it!

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