Though the white blanket of snow on the ground may suggest otherwise, spring break for the 2021-2022 academic year is upon us. Frankly, it comes as a bit of a shock since it seems like it was January yesterday. Nevertheless, the semester rolls forward, and with it comes a well-deserved spring break for us all in Green Hall.
Some of us may strictly turn to some needed R&R, while others may hit the books; both are entirely reasonable. I personally plan on taking advantage of this time in a way I didn’t last semester. Last semester, I was focused on just getting by and tended to avoid practice problems for fear of confusing myself and/or encountering that feeling of doubt where I lacked confidence. However, I feel I can best use my study time this break in a manner I’ve subtly known for roughly 15-plus years.
After reflection, I think turning to my athletic roots within running will pay dividends in how I approach my second round of exams.
I started this activity in the sixth grade—both for school athletics and for my own benefit. It has seen me participate in many races over the years. Some of these events are exceptionally unique and meaningful to me. One of these events was a half-marathon where I ran on behalf of a local nonprofit, and the other a 200-mile relay race completed with my co-workers across Texas. As I recall, it served me absolutely no purpose to merely show up on race day without meaningful practice beforehand. For the half marathons in particular, I had to change up how fast and how long I did my daily runs over the span of months. I had to gradually build to where I could go the entire 13.1 miles comfortably without stopping, all the while leaving room for whatever may happen on race day (bad weather, how I personally felt that day, if I got enough sleep, what to focus on if my AirPods died, etc.). There were days I felt lazy after school or work, and I did not want to set out into the cold, rain or both—now adding snow, thanks to Kansas. However, I knew the importance of encountering discomfort and how my ability to manage it helped me—literally—go the distance.
I realized that my exams truly weren’t much different.
Exam day is, in my view, akin to stepping on the starting line and putting the hard work you’ve done all semester on display (only instead of a crowd cheering you on, you have the wholesome sound of clicking keyboards). With preparation for this day comes practicing hypotheticals where I may feel uncomfortable or unsure. However, what’s vital is the effort I place into that meaningful practice where I learn from each hypothetical. It’s there that progress is made and where I can feel ready for the finish line, knowing I did my best.