The last two weeks were supposed to be huge progress days for my training. What were they? Failures. Gigantic, heartbreaking failures. From getting distracted at the bars, to contracting the flu, to starting a new eating plan, and buying a car, I’ve somehow managed to let 14 full days of critical training time slip by without anything to show for it. I feel awful about myself and the voice that constantly doubts my abilities has come back louder than ever. As my race day looms nearer, I’m trying to ease my fear of failure and focus on what I can do with the time I have left. So this post is for me, too.
Failure and setbacks are an inevitable part of life and are integral part of building mental toughness, something that I struggle with more than anything else.
So how do you confront failure and use it to your advantage?
Life, and athletics, is a balance between testing your limits and stopping just before you reach your breaking point. But sometimes, like my last 14 days, you just can’t get it together enough to make progress.
You will stall out.
You will crash and burn.
You’ll fall short of your goal.
You will meet opposition on the path to your future.
You will not quit.
That’s right. Embrace your failures and learn from them so that next time, you fail in a completely new way. The path leading to your goal isn’t really a path at all, it’s more of a “hack-your-own-path” type of gig. There will always be a million reasons to quit and people doubting your ability to achieve your dream. Tune them out. Hyperfocus on the necessities. It’s you, your goal, and the work you do to reach it. Whatever it is that you want in life, I promise you, is worth every second of mental agony and precious drop of sweat separating you from your future.
From the day you set your goal to the day you reach it, you will wage a battle between what’s safe and what’s right. If you’re happy with being mediocre then give in to that nagging voice in your head telling you to turn back. But if you think you’re ready to see how far you can take yourself, dig a little deeper. Push a little harder. Whatever gifts and talents you have right now, and you have MANY, are yours. Put them to use every day because, as Prefontaine said “To do anything but your best is to sacrifice the gift.” And “your best” will vary. There will be good days and bad days, whole weeks where you can barely get dressed and get out of bed and weeks you magically reset all of your PRs. No matter how bad it gets, keep going because you are going to succeed. Have faith in yourself because no matter how rough it gets, you’re going to make it. Believe that.
Know that even the shittiest day won’t last forever and neither will the best. Make the most of both. Every time you rise again after failure, you rise stronger than before. Every day puts another 1440 minutes on the clock, a gift to you. Make the most of it with the opportunities and resources you have right now. This is your life and today is your day. Go out there and make shit happen!