Similar to being a lifetime runner, I am a lifetime student. I have more degrees than I know what to do with, and I am always chasing after what my friends and family have deemed “the career of the month.” My latest academic endeavor has brought about the task of completing something that will make grown men cry, while tempting me to stick a fork in my eye—studying for the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). Honestly, I don’t even understand the purpose of this exam. Since it is required, I will suck it up and study with the hope of getting a good score. Does this sound familiar? Because I am a runner, without realizing it, I have adopted the race training mentality to this process. Akin to the analytical writing portion of the exam, let me explain the stages further:
Get in the sign-up spirit.
Ready to take on this challenge, I take the first step. Similar to signing up for a race, I sign up and pay for the exam.
Gather all the gear.
Post-sign-up excitement still flowing, I head to my nearest gear store. But, instead of picking out cool shoes and hydration systems at my local running shop, I go to Barnes and Noble to get a review book and flashcards.
Schedule the sessions.
Similar to planning speed workouts and a Sunday long run, I make a detailed outline of weekday study sessions and a weekly practice exam. And of course, rest days are a must.
Endure the ebb and flow.
Comparable to running, I experience good times and bad times. Some days, I have to force myself to get it done, and on other days, it comes naturally. But, keeping faith in my training, I truck along.
Ugh, taper again.
Like race training, a tapering process precedes test day. Cramming in practice equations and vocabulary has the same results as squeezing in extra miles. Trust in the preparation is the key to success.
Reach the big day!
Race day woohoo! Oh wait, no, it’s test day. Similar to a marathon, this 4-hour exam tests my endurance. I just wish there was a medal at the end for my efforts.
OMG, I did it!
Crossing the finish line can be literal or figurative. Either way, I feel an extreme amount of satisfaction. Now, let’s drink!
Most racers immediately look for the next race to sign up for. For me, I get to do something even better! Graduate school applications! Either way, I’m chasing another starting line.
We all do it and may not even realize it—we inherently apply the race training process to other aspects of our lives.