Nathan Pennington Running in The Distance

Failure To Become A Better Runner

max international independent associateFailure

You have to take risks in this sport and failure is a part of it.

Seth Godin says,

take appropriate risks, and by appropriate I mean risks that keep you in the game even if you fail.

We are in a sport where we take appropriate risks. We run a race not quite up to par and what do we have?

We have two opportunities that come from this. Two avenues of approach.

1) We have found out one way of racing which does not work and 2) you have a choice to train differently to get a better result the next time.

There are numerous examples of failures. Abraham Lincoln, Michael Jordan, Thomas Edison are some of the biggest names that we all know of.

They failed countless times but what was the difference?


There was something in their minds that simply refused to accept failure.

I don't think people who excel in any field have the knowledge in their DNA of what quitting even is.

They somehow have found a way to enjoy what others hate doing and they do it longer.

I don't feel there is a science behind distance running success. It is an unquenchable desire to find out how far we can take our bodies and the desire to continue in the face of defeat.

Is part of it genes?

Yes, but people who rely on their talent, who aren' in it for the long haul are going to get caught by the guy or gal, who may be lacking in the ‘talent' department but has something even more powerful, heart and drive.

One of my readers said it best,

I am a competitive person and running has taught me to worry less about everyone else and more just about me. Constantly wanting to beat my times is what is motivating me to work harder.

How many people among you and I, have failed over and over again and created a masterpiece from failure?

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Overcome Failure

The list is endless and anytime you read about a successful entrepreneur, athlete, corporation, you can best bet there has been endless struggles along their path.

They simply didn't let up when others would.

persistenceJoe Newton, one of the greatest distance running coaches, brought up a point as it pertains to failure.

You have three choices in life, be good, be average, be great.

There are some who will be here in the morning to train because they want to be great.

The choice is yours, the teacher didn't make it, the preacher didn't make it, you made it. If you choose to be average, that is all you are ever going to be in life. – Coach Joe Newton

I will tell you that there were many times I wanted to quit the sport of running. I lost the joy of running altogether in 2010. I nearly let it get the best of me.

I was so caught up in trying to earn a 2012 Olympic Trials qualifying standard time (2.19.00) that I lost focus and was filtering my mental and physical energies in the wrong direction.

Focus On Your Goals

People had expectations of me and can you guess where that attention was going?

The focus was on them as I had to perform up to standard or I would be released from a world class unit. If you don't break 2.19.00 you are getting the boot.

Guess what. I failed and miserably.

I trained my ass off and missed the mark. I went back to a full-time job, had no pressure to perform or meet a standard (other then my own) and broke 2.20.00.

I don't have any pressure on me now either, outside of a very hectic military work week, and am training to break 2.18.00.


You can either let go of your goals or you can keep fighting. It is simple as that and I am not ready to hang up my shoes just yet.

What is stopping you from earning your goal? Can you take some stress off your plate that may be doing you more harm then good?

If running becomes a be-all, end-all, where all of your joy is revolved around measuring up to others expectations of you or the standards you set for yourself, then you need to change your approach.

Train hard, give it your best shot and let it be, whether win or fail. You have no regrets. You didn't sit back on the side lines like so many do and wondered. You took a crack at it.

Delayed gratificationcorporate wellness plans

There are people who don't understand that in this sport, results do not come overnight. There has been a loss of long-term development in elite sport organizations.

They put ever increasing demands on athletes to perform and if they are not setting world records, winning medals or running fast enough, they are released.

Set Mindset

Steve Prefontaine, who at one time held every American record from 2000 to 10,000 meters, was offered $200,000 to join the professional ranks of running back in the 70s.

He chose to turn it down despite being on food stamps. The reason he stated was,

Run free 

I had the luxury of training full-time as a Soldier-athlete in the Army World Class Athlete Program and how ironic is it that I ran my best marathon to date while I was working as a staff member after my athlete status was up.

Don't let failure break your joy.

You can always do more. How long are you willing to endure?

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