Nathan Pennington Running in The Distance

Why Failure Is Important:Why Failure Is Critical To Long Term Success

Why Failure Is Important

Why failure is important is because every success stems from it.

I mentioned this in Disappointment. How To Overcome It and Run Faster how the failures we encounter as athletes are really the force behind  continuing on with our hard work.

Failures only make you more driven to attain our goals.

It is hard to deal with missing a goal or objective. That being said, if you look at the most successful runners and leaders in any area they all have had to encounter some serious disappointments. They all failed numerous times.

I ran a 3.05 marathon at the 2010 Grandmas Marathon. It was the slowest marathon I’ve ever run. In addition to that, I was so unbelievably over trained and tired. I couldn’t believe after 3 miles into that race I wanted to call it a day. The reason I finished was because the Army had paid my way there. The majority of the entire race I walked or jogged.

Why failure is important is it will determine how committed you truly are. Do you quit when a disappointment comes your way? How long will you last?

I had an enormous opportunity to return back to the Army World Class Athlete Program having run a PR of 2.19.35 at the 2007 California International Marathon.

Furthermore, the staff were clearly excited to have me back. I was determined to run under the new USA Track and Field standard of 2.19.00 needed to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Trials.

Results Do Not Come Overnight

I spent three more years chasing that 2.19.00 time. What is 35 seconds right? I missed the time over and over and over again.

The closest I came to 2:19:00 was the 2:26:42 I ran at the 2011 Monumental Indianapolis Marathon.

I had many “failures” along the way trying to run 2:19:00 and better my 2:19:35 PR. I ran a 2.36:29 at the 2009 California International Marathon. That being said, I was never aiming at slow times. I hit the first half in  1.08.33 opening half and was still at 1.50 at 20 miles).

I ran 2.40:53 at the 2011 BMO Vancouver (Canada) Marathon. Again, hitting the half-marathon in  1.08.56.

Jonathan Fields, in his article, Why Failure Must Be On The Table put it perfectly,

The potential not just for failure, but failure that matters, failure you feel, must be on the table. If it’s not, then what you’re setting out to do is either so safe or so devoid of the the potential for impact that success might allow you to check a box on a piece of paper, but beyond that, nobody’ll care. Including you.

The bottom line is you have to accept failure in pursuit of your running aspirations. If you are a 17-minute 5K runner seeking to break 16 minutes be patient. The times will come in due time.

Think Long-Term

The reason this site is so important to me is that I can relate to the frustrations runners have. I have dealt with the same setbacks.

This, perhaps, could be because there is an aspect of their training that is at the root of the problem.

In Fueling. How To Avoid Bad Races By Taking In More Calories  I go in-depth on this.

Have you been beating yourself over the head wondering why you are not running up to your capability? Please consider that read.

Dr. Joe Vigil, one of the most celebrated distance running coaches in world history put it like this,

When excellence is in sight, good is not enough

Never accept less then your best and often times failures simply show us that we can do better. We have more capability. The objective is to not let them get the best of us and cause us to let go of our hopes and dreams.

Darren Hardy in his book, The Compound Effectfailure says,

Don’t try to fool yourself into believing that a mega-successful athlete didn’t live through regular bone-crushing drills and thousands of hours of practice. He got up early to practice-and kept practicing long after all others had stopped. He faced the sheer agony and frustration of the failure, loneliness, hard work, and disappointment it took to become #1.

Sound like you?

Be Patient

Failures should never be the reason to not keep trying. As long as you can find meaning and enjoyment in this sport then you need to keep fighting hard.

You really have to be patient and consistent with what you are aiming for. That being said, embrace it and consider it a challenge.

I was released from the Army W.C.A.P. program because I didn’t run under 2:19:00 by the 2008 USA Olympic Marathon Trials. In fact, the trials were held in November of 2007 and I ran 2:19:35 28 days later.

Don’t be afraid to fail.  The quickest way to reaching your athletic goals is how you handle disappointment. Can you maintain enthusiasm despite setbacks?

Countless times while entering the latter stages of the event I have caught myself asking,

Why is this happening?  I am far better than I am showing

The importance of proper hydration practices is critical to running a successful marathon time.

There will be times where you have done everything right in training and still miss your goal. The key is not losing enthusiasm in the process.

My Army WCAP teammate also experienced setbacks. Kenny Foster, a 2:29 marathoner upon entering the Army World Class Athlete Program, improved to 2:19:49.

He flew all the way to the Rotterdam Marathon in Holland, hit the half marathon point in a new PR of 1.07.51 and ended up dropping out after 18 miles.

He would eventually run his personal best time of 2.19.49 at the 2011 California International Marathon. It takes time and patience that you have to take with you every step of the way.

A learning tool that can really only make you a tougher athlete. I ran a 2.55 marathon at the 2010 City of Los Angeles Marathon.

The Process

There was a serious problem with my racing at 26.2 miles. I was over trained and not practicing adequate hydration fundamentals. This caused me numerous setbacks running the marathon. You cannot sip in the race and expect to finish well. Your body needs adequate fluids and calories throughout the race.

You have to keep a level head. An absolute stoic attitude that regardless what happens. You are going to nail down your goal.

I will not run one race in 2012. It is hard to know that but I accept it. I have 2013 in mind and possibly it is the welcome break my body needed in order to go after my long term goal of running a 2.15 marathon.

I hope you enjoy the video and can take away a few things J.K. Rawling says and use it toward your next race. Accept failure as a blessing, not as a vehicle for you to give up on your running goals. Consider me and the countless others who have had to fail first before the ‘big one’ was run.

Take a look at the video, tell me what you think. How has failure impacted your willingness to improve?

Invest In A RunDreamAchieve Training Plan Today

4 responses to “Why Failure Is Important:Why Failure Is Critical To Long Term Success

  1. Thanks JS. Her video really hit home with me not only as an athlete but some of the things I am dealing with outside of athletics. We have to encourage one another and others. I hope your training is going well and you nail down the race times your aiming at. 

  2. Thanks JS. Her video really hit home with me not only as an athlete but some of the things I am dealing with outside of athletics. We have to encourage one another and others. I hope your training is going well and you nail down the race times your aiming at. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *