Dealing With “Failure”

I went through a phase in my running where I was seeing consistent improvement. Almost every race was an opportunity to set a new PR. I knew this couldn’t go on forever, and it came to a grinding halt at the end of 2013 when I had foot surgery. All of last year felt a little bit like two steps forward, one step back. Sometimes that one step felt more like a giant leap, actually. 2014 was a year with not one single PR in terms of running. (Thankfully, lifting was a different story or I might have gone insane!)

At some point in time last spring, I was feeling incredibly optimistic and decided (actually my friend, Jascia, over at fitjourneys may have had something to do with this…) that I was going to sign up for Disney’s Dopey Challenge. For those of you who are not familiar with this (and didn’t catch it in my post a few weeks ago), this is four days of running. You must run a 5K, 10K, half marathon and then a full marathon in order to complete the challenge. (If you trying to add quickly, that is 48.6 miles!)


My training was going alone quite nicely for awhile. Part of me even felt that if I took the first three races really conservatively I had a shot at a marathon PR. I have only run one full and it was a very hilly, tough course. Disney is flat and relatively fast.

But life sometimes gets in the way of fitness goals, doesn’t it? I trained up to a long run of 16 miles and then had to take a doctor-ordered five weeks off completely. I walked maybe 10 miles during that entire time, so by off I mean off. Somewhere in the midst of this time I missed the deferral deadline. I was then left with these 3 options:

  1. Scrap the race entirely & vacation in Florida
  2. Run parts of it but not complete the challenge
  3. Completely readjust my expectations and goals.

I still have moments of struggling with this, but I have chosen to go with the last option.

If you haven’t gathered this from me already, I am somewhat stubborn determined when it comes to running. If I am supposed to get miles in, I get them in. I jumped right back into an 18-miler as soon as I was cleared to run. It hurt, but I recovered physically as well as I think I would have any other time. My running “base” came through for me. What hurt more was mentally dealing with my pace. I was, and continue to be, much slower than I want to be. My dreams for a marathon PR went flying out the window.

What is my point to all of this? Sometimes when we set a goal and realize we aren’t going to reach it, we must put our pride aside and just throw at it whatever we can. I have really struggled with this. I am excited to escape the Chicago winter, get away with my husband and see some friends while in Florida, but I am honestly not that excited to run. In fact, I have thought about throwing in the towel several times. I may have even texted Missy at some point last week and told her I “didn’t feel like running Dopey.” But it has come back to this – I feel I am physically able to complete this in one piece and recover. (If I felt I was risking injury I would not do it.) But most importantly to me — I said I was going to do it, and I am going to follow through. There was definitely an “easy way out” option on this, but I am forcing myself not to take it. I’m sure I will not love it. I do not like being slow and taking what feels like forever to finish a run. I have a competitive side to me that does not like feeling like I “failed” at a goal. I know right now that I will not be happy with my pace this weekend. But I’m going to give it my all, recover and then readjust my goals for 2015.

If you are just starting into a fitness routine or re-committing to one, I promise you that there will be days you do not want to do what you planned to do that day. There will be times you get side-tracked and don’t set foot in the gym for a week. We all have those days (or weeks). But think about the bigger picture. I read somewhere that the marathon is really just your “victory lap.” The real work is done on all those long, lonely miles (did I mention I did 20 on a treadmill last week? I do not recommend this!) you have done leading up to the event. The work is done on those days you don’t want to show up, but you still do. It is those days you have fallen into a bad habit and force yourself to get back on track that really matter. Failing to reach a goal does not mean you are a failure and should throw in the towel! It just means you need to set a new goal and get yourself back out there.

The most important thing when you fail to reach a goal is what you do next. I have “vision board” next to my desk in my home office that has a quote hung up about failure. It says “Failure: It can destroy you or it can make you so freakin’ mad that you work even harder to become the winner that you know you are.” So which will it be for you in 2015? Give up or get out there and work harder?



Are any of you participating in Disney Marathon Weekend?



One thought on “Dealing With “Failure”

  1. Please be careful out there, and I’ve never run a Disney race but isn’t this the place to throw pace and stress out the window and just enjoy the experience and ALL the character photo ops? Just have FUN…FUN FUN FUN!!! Can’t wait to hear about it!

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