Updated: Nov 29, 2018
The sweetest victory is the one that’s most difficult. The one that requires you to reach down deep inside, to fight with everything you’ve got, to be willing to leave everything out there—without knowing, until that moment, if your heroic effort will be enough.
To achieve your personal best, to reach unparalleled heights, to make the impossible possible, you can’t fear failure. At our gym we talk a lot about Personal Records, as coaches we get them, and we enjoy our clients and friends having their best days. But what about the days we fail? The days the bar will not budge off the ground? The days we do not get our personal best?
As frustrating as it can be, it is part of the process!
We all fail and from failure, we build resiliency. We learn, we grow, we motivate and we get better. To be a successful athlete, you need to find a way to see the opportunity in every failure.
The other day I talked to an ultra endurance runner who had finished coming in 2nd place during a 50k trail run. I asked him how it felt to have performed so well in his race. He told me “It felt great! I was very happy with my run because I left it all out there, I could not have gone faster”.
As we talked we discussed his training and what it took for him to be able to run this distance. He explained to me the training was not what he had expects, and rather was plagued with failures.
He had come down with a cold during his training. He also had 2 failed runs just weeks before the race. During these runs, he became exhausted as the miles built, he felt weak, had to walk several miles just to get back to his car. But as a successful athlete, he looked at each of these situations as opportunities. During these failed run attempts he learned he needed to adjust his pace for such a long distance, he needed to eat more prior to the run as well as having more nutrition on the run. He learned that to cover this impressive distance, he needed some additional sodium. Not only this, prior to his challenging training runs he had purchased a new pair of trail shoes that he thought he would need for this type of event. Through these failed runs he learned these shoes were uncomfortable for him. He took back those shoes and exchanged them for a running flat he had always had success running marathons in. Basically he had failed his way to a successful race.
The final question I had for him was if he was happy coming in 2nd place. “I am very happy” he told me “but I have also now learned what it takes to come in 1st place.”
Too often the word failure is covered in a huge dark cloud of negativity. We are too often told that “failure is not an option,” but it is! How can you know where you need to improve if you’ve never failed at something? Even worst if you haven’t even got the nerve up to try!
Failure is an option, trust me I’ve failed many times and even when I feel like giving up, I tell myself this is not the end. Failure is the path to accomplishing your dreams and reaching your goals. And even then, once you’ve reached your goals your eyes will open to even bigger and more inspiring dreams.
The athletes we have seen that have the greatest success, the ones that we love to celebrate with on days they hit personal records are the same ones eager to think critically about their failures. This week, challenge yourself to embrace that improving is a process that has to be started, practiced, and constantly refined. It is only through this that we are able to recognize the lessons apparent in all of our experiences, and continue to push forward.
Maybe today you did not PR, you missed a lift, maybe even lighter than your last PR. What are the lessons? Possibly you had a hard work week with deadlines, you were stressed and not focused. Maybe your nutrition was off, maybe you were not focused. Maybe you just didn't give it your all today. Learn, and improve, push forward and you will get your PR! Make today your best.
Written By Coach Joe Beckerley owner of Performance Strength Lab. A high performance gym based out of Santee, California where he offers his expertise in strength and conditioning, nutrition and training for endurance events. Coach Beckerley holds a bachelors degree in Instructional Technology, is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, USA Triathlon L2 Coach, USA Weightlifting L2 Advanced Sports Performance Coach, Ironman Coach and a Youth Fitness and Nutrition Specialist. Contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org