I am prompted to write today after post on GP Registrars for FRACGP Prep querying the availability of coffee and snacks during the mental marathon that is the RACGP written exams. It’s great that there is consideration of fuelling yourself for the day and not just the academic perspective of the exam.
Even though my exams are very distant memory, I’m training for a race too – the Melbourne 1/2 Marathon (my fifth). As I set off on my run this morning, I was reflecting about the road to a goal. My motivation to run this morning was pretty low as I was tired, and have been training all year (not unlike most of you who may have study fatigue). I also omitted to have breakfast as I was in a rush because I had procrastinated too much – so didn’t start-off with the required stamina.
My plan was a 20 minute run, followed by 10 x 1 minute hill runs, and the run home.
It didn’t look like a steep hill, but it doesn’t feel like that when you’re doing it for the tenth time and have already run 3 km. I’m remember the feeling at the end of the exams was a little similar. My trainer said not to go hard in the first two laps or the last laps would be yucky – but I didn’t listen, rushed into it and was in a world of pain by the end.
Half way through, I found myself asking – Why am I doing this? Why don’t I just stop? I realised on hill lap six, that although the hill felt steeper, it was the same hill as on lap one, and I could make it feel flatter by just putting one foot in front of the other and focusing on the next step, rather than the top of the hill. I decided to check on my posture and gait, and take control of my breathing before each ascent.
At the end of the tenth hill run the view was pretty awesome and much more enjoyable than at the end of the first run. I revelled in the fact that I’d completed something I didn’t think I could, and spent the 20 minutes running home reflecting on how I might improve my approach for the next time. Make sure you leave some time at the end of the exams to check your work and make any changes that are required – the difference here is that you need to check your performance before you finish the race.
I don’t yet know if my coach will be happy with my time, but I do know that next time I do the run, preparation will be more important, and I should put into place all the strategies I have learnt today (and from my previous runs) to achieve an outcome I’m proud of. I know that if I prepare well, stick to a strategy, and continually reflect on how to improve then I should have no excuse for not making it to the top.
So in the next ten days, prepare well and reflect on any aspects of your learning that you can ‘tweak’ before your mental marathon. Go into the day with appropriate race apparel, fuel for stamina, and a positive mental attitude – don’t let all your great preparation be undone by nerves. Execute your race plan, and your contingencies for when things aren’t going as expected. Then as you finish, pat yourself on the back for your preparation, and take some time to refresh whilst awaiting for the race results to be published.
P.S. I’ve just thoroughly enjoyed my lunchtime sausage roll (knowing the calories are accounted for) and booked myself a leg massage – my hammies are feeling nasty!
May you enjoy a sausage roll at the top too!