For those of you who followed my season, I was having an incredible year. I won three consecutive races, getting the course record in one and missing the course record by a few minutes in the other. Then not even a quarter into the fourth race, my wheels completely fell off. I was absolutely exhausted, physically and mentally, so I made the decision to end my race. I failed. Even if I had good reasons, I started something I couldn’t finish and it was my own actions that led to the failure.
Since the race, I have been analyzing my life choices in the seven weeks between events. I have always been a “yes” lady...juggling a spectacle of tasks I truly love to help and serve others. It’s what I derive so much joy from. However, I am beginning to realize that ultra-running isn’t the only place that I explore my limits. I came to the conclusion that I didn’t rest my body and mind with the amount of self-care that would be needed between events in order to feel rejuvenated enough to take on something as enormous as running a 100-mile race. It ended up resulting in my not wanting to go anywhere near that deep trench of suffering we need to embrace as runners.
I overestimated my ability to recover, juggle life, and training. I don’t know if I was being overzealous? A little cocky, thinking I could take on the world? Or was it insecurity manifesting itself in an internal dialogue encouraging me to ignore fatigue and keep pushing? Maybe all of those things? Ultimately, I went against my better judgment and advice from my mentor, Coach Michele Yates…so it blew up on race day. I have to accept that given my life outside of athletics, I need more recovery than some athletes require to perform.
I am upset because I have made this mistake before... I know the signs of overreaching: persistent fatigue, reduced performance, compromised sleep and eating habits, irritability. I am a coach and educate the athletes we work with on a daily basis... so why is it hard for me to listen when it comes to myself? This has been the number one thing aside from confidence that Coach Michele Yates has worked with me on as an athlete. Learn from me, look for these signs within yourself, and discuss them with your coach. An extra rest day, lower volume intervals, and a nice bath might be all you need!
Okay...so I am a repeat offender of a complete lack of moderation in life. Perhaps that’s why I chose ultra-running in the first place? Now I’m focusing on how to grow from this particular failure. What can I learn from this lack of moderation? How can I channel this to learn and grow from it? How can I be sure this won’t happen again?
Most importantly, how can I transform this into success and bring light to help others? These and others are the hard, honest questions that we need to ask ourselves when our actions lead to outcomes we don’t desire.
We need to be resilient and allow the setback to pass. We need to learn from the mistake and move on. We have to give ourselves compassion and grace. Continuing to batter one’s self will not change anything and only prevent us from moving forward. Failure is the best teacher out there and is an absolute blessing when we choose to let it teach us, instead of letting it control us with fear.
Here are some helpful perspectives on failure that you can use to grow from failure instead of faltering:
Failure is scientifically proven to cultivate success.
It’s true, getting comfortable with failure is a critical part of success in life. Why? Because, although uncomfortable, failure means that you are getting out of your “bubble” aka comfort zone, and trying new things, things you’re afraid of, and taking risks. Without failure, success is virtually impossible!
Failure Resilience Tips:
Be your own best friend. Self-compassion! Treat yourself like you would a friend. Remember that we all fail and do something nice for yourself.
Change the channel. Simply shut off your mind to failure and focus on something else. Read a book, play a game, watch a movie... Stressing about it won’t change the outcome.
Put it in perspective. Think about other times you have failed or gone through something hard...draw on that for strength. Did it ruin your life? This won’t either. Remember no one else is keeping track of your failures.
Ask for help. Reach out to someone you trust and talk about it. Your coaches would love to help you work through this.
Rely on role models. Think of people you know who have overcome failure with grace. I can be your failure model...you are welcome! ;)
Take baby steps. Visualize yourself conquering failure step by step. When I run 100 miles, I focus on getting to the next aid station 10 miles away, not the whole race.
Dive back in. Dust yourself and get back at it!
Make a “it could be much worse” list Yes, it can always be worse! Humor will help with this list!
Still don’t believe me??? Famous Epic Failures!
- Abraham Lincoln was defeated in 8 different elections, yet he persisted and became the 16th president and one of the most respected presidents in history!
- Walt Disney was told he had no talent and was fired from his newspaper job, he was volunteering for a church in a run down garage and sketched Mickey Mouse, the rest is history!
- 23 publishers rejected Dr. Suess’s first book, while the 24th was accepted and sold 6 million copies.
- Elvis Presley was fired after his first performance at the Grand Ole Oprey. The manager told him: “You ain’t going nowhere, son. You ought to go back to driving a truck.” He went onto become one of the most famous singers of all time!
- J.K. Rowling, author of Harry Potter, was very poor and lived on welfare, a government program to help the very poor and was rejected by 12 publishers. When published she was one of the most famous wealthy authors of all time!
- Michael Jordan was cut from his varsity basketball team. He was fueled by anger and rejection and began practicing relentlessly. Eventually he made the team and became one of the most famous, successful professional athletes in history!
He said “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot and I missed. I have failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
-Thomas Edison was the inventor who was kicked out of school and was homeschooled by his mother. It took him 700 tries to get the filament correct for the light bulb. Edison was quoted as saying: “I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving those 700 ways don’t work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the ways that will.”
“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”