The last mile | education | Hindustan Times
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The last mile

Like athletes running their final lap, students need to find that burst of energy to finish the board exams. A runner and a mountaineer tell you how to do it.

education Updated: Sep 22, 2011 11:27 IST
Pankti Mehta

Rishin Shah is an above average ICSE student, but has reached his peak. “The exams have been going on for what feels like forever, and there’s still a week left. It’s hard to stay focused for so long. I feel myself losing steam, and all I want to think about is the post-exam trip to Goa!” he says.

Exhaustion, and the promise of coming vacations have led city students to come close to giving up serious studying at this stage. Sportspersons identify with that feeling well, having trained for so long, but yet, feeling a physical and mental drain through the course of a long race; questioning why they put themselves through that pain. “I tell my students to take one goal at a time,” says Ajit Singh Shobhawat, diving and long-distance swimming coach. “Show yourself you can pass through one more metre, then one more, and so on. The same can be applied to chapters.”

Self-motivation is very important, say athletes. Think of the larger picture, and the rush of having finished your race – and having given it your best shot. “The rush of seeing the finish line in the distance will have your adrenaline pumping,” says Shobhawat. “Remember you’ve come into the race with a do-or-die intention, and follow through with it.”

Remind yourself that it’s just another exam, and like all others, it will get over soon. Psychologist Namrata Manjaramkar says, “It’s natural to be frustrated, but muster the determination to achieve the self-respect that you desire, and deserve.”

‘Imagine the feeling of completing the challenge you’ve set for yourself and take one step at a time’
Rajeswari Kesavan, multiple-time marathon runner from Mumbai

“I think it’s all about enjoying what you do without getting too worried about the result. Funnily the outcome is much better when you are less worried about the consequence. Usually when I start the run, it starts great – but as I cross the 60-70% mark, I start feeling a pain in my legs – and sometimes wonder why I’m doing it. But, if you enjoy what you’re doing you should go ahead, without worrying about the result. This way, even someone who is an amateur runner can really complete long distances without too much of a struggle.

Visualising a positive feeling, like the adrenaline rush of running past the finish line, is what keeps me going. I don’t allow my mind to psyche me out, just keep telling myself that I have to do this. Imagine the feeling of completing the challenge you’ve set yourself, and just take one step at a time. You’ll muster up enough courage to race to the finish line.”

‘I started to give myself smaller goals. If you look at the journey as a whole, it will scare you’
Arjun Vajpai, Class 12 student and the youngest Indian to scale Mt. Everest.

“I’m taking the Class 12 board exams this year too, and they stretch on for over a month. That is a long time to stay focused – and I do take away the determination I’ve garnered from my mountaineering experiences.

For both mountaineering and the exams, you need a good deal of both physical and mental fitness. At about two or three points during my climb, I felt my legs become so heavy that I thought I couldn’t take a single step further. I wanted to give up and just go home, having achieved as much as I could. I started to give myself smaller goals, challenged myself to take five more steps. And once I did that, I told myself I could take the next five, and then the next. If you keep the bigger picture in mind, it will scare you enough to psyche you out.

I kept focusing on the view I’d get from the summit, and the fantastic feeling of having made the achievement. I was living my dream, and I wasn’t ready to give it up – even though I was so exhausted that I wanted to! The same goes for the exams. I’ve studied for months, even years, working towards this day, and I don’t want to mess up the last few days over laziness.”