Learning from Failure

There are the days that seem to go perfectly. Then there are the ones which do not flow so well. And then there are the disasters. At the time, disappointing races, injuries, punctures and so on might feel like the biggest calamity and be hugely upsetting. But with hindsight and less emotionally-charged reflection, you can learn from these little speed bumps in your season.

Here are some thoughts to learn the positives from any downers you experience:

  1. Is the situation/issue beyond your control?

If it is, calm down, be rational and think of ways to overcome the failing. It is likely that other people will be in the same boat, or have sailed in that boat previously. Is not starting/finishing this race or not achieving your aims really the end of the world? Can you put the issue to bed on another day, when you will be even more prepared? If you cannot influence the outcome then and there, don’t let it bring you down.

  1. What could you do differently to prevent <insert calamity> happening again?

If the answer is nothing, then refer to point 1 above! Use every training session, race and failure as a learning experience to become faster, fitter and wiser. For example, if a puncture scuppered your race then vow to improve your bike maintenance skills and practice changing inner tubes until you’re slick like a pit crew! If you took a wrong turn, vow to always recce the route in advance, or ask the nagging question in the pre-race brief.

  1. Remember life is a roller-coaster

The highs would not be so amazing if there weren’t lows to battle and overcome. No one likes beige or run of the mill – humans thrive on challenges, adversity and unique experiences.

  1. Consider the bigger “life” picture

Hopefully you do your sport for the enjoyment and buzz it gives you. If you are taking it this seriously and are not a pro (income depends on success), are you really competing for the right reasons, and is it affecting your personality? If you can’t race with a smile on your face, then take a long look in the mirror and ask yourself why you compete.

Remember, humans learn through trial and error. We very rapidly correct our mistakes and get more efficient, proficient and knowledgeable in that particular skill. But first we have to dive in, be prepared to fail, and enjoy the whole experience.

*The picture is of my rookie mistake in my first Half Ironman: not taking the time to put on socks for the run but still carrying them round the 21km with me! Learning (from blisters) took place…

As usual, please leave any comments, suggestions or related articles.




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