Saturday, October 29, 2016

Fail Better

American runner Zach Miller just wrote a blog post about the Art of Failing that is incredibly valid to me after that race in Albi.

"To put it bluntly, there’s nothing left to fight for. Okay, maybe there is something, like a finish, but in the moment of battle such victories can pale in comparison to the grandiose things we dreamed of. And yet we refuse to give up. We press on."

There were other runners in Albi, including some of much higher calibre than me, who did not have their day either and who simply stepped off the track, saving themselves for another day. I just don't do that. I've never DNFed in a race, even when it may well have been a good idea. It's somewhere between determination, stubbornness and stupidity. Under the right circumstances that can be a good thing - I would never have reached international level otherwise - but at other times it can be a sub-optimal mind set.

On Sunday evening I had a chat with one of my team mates. She had been looking very good for about 15 hours but eventually faltered. She had a rest in the tent and then point blankly refused to go back out. "I did not see the point in walking for 6 hours!" I wasn't sure what to say - "that's exactly what I ended up doing" just didn't seem right.

It is easier in a race to a distance. Walk to the finish. You have an end point, a goal waiting for you. In a timed event, this is much tougher to do, mentally. You just keep walking the same loop over and over again, never getting anywhere. I can see why you wouldn't see the point in that.

I'm definitely having the post-race blues this time round, something I never got before. This really hit me deep.

Niamh contemplating the idea of having me round for 4 weeks
Niamh at first started laughing when she heard about my plan to take at least one month off. After a few days she seemed to catch on that I was serious. She's not happy. Last time she threw me out of the house after less than a fortnight, telling me to not even think of getting back unless I had run for at least half an hour. This could be a problem.

It's been a week since. I have had plenty of time to think it over. After feeling sorry for myself for a few days I started to analyse things, with a little bit of help. I know where I made the mistakes, and it goes back right to the start of the year. In retrospect it all looks so easy.

"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better."

Oh, and all the best to anyone running in Dublin tomorrow. If you get tired at mile 20 just think of me and the fact that I still had to do 100 miles at that point last week.

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