Flossing and running

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 What they have in common

by Robin Miller, RDH


Robin Miller (far right) climbing the last hill before the finish line of the 2011 Fall 5K (Reindeer Run).Can you floss and run at the same time?  That was an interesting question my boss jokingly inquired as I was leaving the office.  I was on my way to coach an adult runners’ group in Maryville.  The visual of it actually happening had us laughing.  However, the question got me thinking about the relationship between my profession as a dental hygienist and coaching people to “get moving”.  My objective as a dental hygienist is to help individuals obtain and maintain a healthy smile.  My goal as a running coach is to assist my community in becoming physically fit. The outcome for both is a better quality of life.   The biggest challenge is changing the habits, routines, and priorities we all have.

As a dental hygienist, I’ve seen the gamut of mouth care.  There is the extremely vigilant five-times-a-day flosser-brusher-rinser individual, to the very negligent weekly fifteen-second brusher.  Coaching the latter group to achieve better oral hygiene is challenging and sometimes frustrating.  My job is to find the motivating factor that may change their habits.  Any type of change has to come from the individual.  Fleet Feet’s No Boundaries runners’ group shared their motives:  “I just want to feel better”; “I want to lose weight and get in shape”; and “I’ve always wanted to finish a 5k”.  The reasons are varied, but the bottom line is the quest for a better quality of life.

“Now, here’s the catch – starting something new is easy; but continuing is really. . . really . . . difficult. At this point, most people get stuck and fall back into their old habits.”

Now, here’s the catch – starting something new is easy; but continuing is really . . . really . . . difficult.  At this point, most people get stuck and fall back into their old habits, such as playing computer games or watching the latest episode of “American Idol”.  Sure it’s easier, but was it time well spent?   Nike® got it right – Just Do It!  Do it even if feels awful, forces you to rise earlier, or stay up later.  Coaching runners through their “out-of-comfort-zone” stage is the balance between encouragement and pushing them a bit harder.  Then the magic kicks in.

The No Boundaries group just completed their spring 5k.  Thinking back to the beginning of their 10-weeks of training, I remember walking more than running and a lot of huffing and puffing.  As time progressed, their running time became longer.  Everyone crossed the finish line.  Was it easy?  No way!  Was it worth it?  You bet!  Many of them will continue training to run another 5 or 10k.  Some will join the long distant group and train for a half or full marathon.  What happened to change their habits and routines?  They own it now.  They worked hard, pushed through the excuses and accomplished their goal of finishing a race.

I also run with Fleet Feet’s long distant group and instead of coaching them, I’m the one being coached.   The accountability factor and friends I’ve met have been priceless.  Sometimes getting motivated to run is still hard, but it feels much worse not to run.  That’s the magic.  “Train smart, live well, make a difference” (FF).  “Running changes everything” (FF).

Robin Miller is a Registered Dental Hygienist with Cedar Bluff Dental Center, P.C.  She received her B.S. in Dental Hygiene from East TN State University.  She is a fitness enthusiast and has run four marathons.

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