>As racing season comes and goes, I look around the usual blog roll and see alot of…..well, a lot of “what could have beens.” Failure is always an interesting things to watch people encounter. Most times when people do fail, everyone side steps the issue very delicately, never saying the word out loud. We are afraid that by reminding each other of a failure, one won’t see it as an opportunity to get better, but rather a strike against them. What people often don’t realize is that just because they failed to reach a goal, they, as a person, are not a failure. But yes, they still “failed.” And that’s okay.
Failure inevitably happens to me throughout the racing season because, for me, the race is what matters. When you race about once a month, not every race will be the perfect one. Yes, the training is the journey. The training builds character and makes me who I am. The training makes the racing worth it. But, in the end, the race matters. I train TO race.
Failure happens for a reason. Whenever something doesn’t go as planned in my races, it’s important to me to reflect. Why didn’t things go well? Nutrition? Over training? Under training? Mental approach? There is always, always a reason. I don’t believe in just having a bad day. Especially in endurance events, some portion of each day will be unpleasant….that’s inevitable. If you train well, you will be able to adapt to any conditions in a race – heat, snow, downpour, stomach issues – and overcome them. If you train well, you will have your worst days in training, not in the race. If you pay attention to your body, you will avoid injury and become stronger throughout the training process, not weaker. I believe these things because I truly believe in the training process….I have to.
As athletes, we will fail. We will work our asses off, race, and not do well. But instead of wallowing (you’re allowed a day or two), instead of just saying you had a bad day or the conditions weren’t on your side, accept the fact that you failed. Accept that in at least one respect, you did not prepare enough. And that’s okay. That’s part of being an athlete, shoot, that’s part of being a human. Competition exists because in every race some will fail, and some will win. But when you’re not the winner, you know it wasn’t your best effort. Your training partners know it. And they know you deserve to get out there and show everyone what your best really is.
There will always be an excuse, if you look for it. Don’t look for the excuses, look for the reasons (because there is one), and then make a change. Make yourself stronger for the next time you compete….because you will. And maybe that race won’t turn out like you want either. But that’s why we do what we do. If I was already as fast as I ever wanted to be, I’d be sitting at Mad River right now in my Ravens jerseys talking to dudes who probably couldn’t even tell me what 3 sports are involved in a triathlon.
But, I’m not. I’m laying on the couch with The Stick, rubbing out my legs and debating if I can hit a ride this afternoon after a long recovery run this morning. Because in the past year, I’ve had some great races, but I have also failed. And I’m making changes and training smarter and I’m looking forward to my next race.
In order to avoid failure at HURT in January, I have my work cut out for me. I know what I need to do to get there, and I know the time it will require from me. So here’s my shortlist of reasons to get out there and train this fall/winter, despite the cold. Or the darkness. Or the cold darkness.
-Fall. Leaves. In the Blue Ridge Mountains. Even in Patapsco.
-Sweating on crisp mornings and not feeling like you just lost 1/2 your body weight.
-Knowing that you’re now stronger than everyone who DIDN’T get out of bed because its 40 degrees and raining.
-More running with a headlamp. Because hey, night runs are fun.
-The heat training in the sauna feels best after a long run in the cold.
-Not having to carry bajillions of gallons of water with you for your long run.
-Without the summer leaves, getting to see how far the view from the top *really* is.