I had great plans for my next post. I was going to come in here (such that this is a place!) beaming with pride at having completed my longest run to date. I managed to trot out an 18 miler on the 9th of June, and unexpectedly i really enjoyed it. So on the 16th I was going to get to the magic 20 mile mark. It was going to be glorious. I had it all planned: nutrition was sorted, alarm was set, clothes were laid out, and I knew exactly what I had to do.
So what happened? Nothing. Zilch. A big, fat, ZERO. Alarm went off, I reset it, then I put it off altogether. I then decided to do the run in the afternoon, to match the conditions i’d be facing during the Outlaw marathon, since I won’t be starting that until early afternoon. But the hours just kept ticking by, and eventually it was too late. I completely bottled it. I was so sure that the 18 miler had been some sort of fluke, that it could not possibly be repeated, that I might as well just not bother. At the time these weren’t conscious thoughts, but that’s what happened. I was so paralysed by the fear of failure that I didn’t get off my fat arse and do what needed to be done. I even started panicking because I knew some friends would say “so how did the run go?!” and i’d have to admit defeat. Worse, I couldn’t even give a valid reason why.
Actually typing this makes me laugh, but you know when I started this blog, I kind of thought “this is it – i’ve taken the plunge by committing to write about my fears and dreams, so i’m on the right path, and NOW all these things I want to do will be possible”. Ta da, I have arrived at the answer!! (insert photo of me sitting in Buddha pose, basking in my newly found wisdom). Hmm, clearly not…. but acknowledging weakness is half the battle, right? Well, it might well be half of it, but the other half of it is actually getting out there and doing something. Taking action. Moving. Possibly even more important than any of that, however, is not being afraid to acknowledge failure. Acknowledge it, learn from it, and then move on.
No one likes failure, do they? I mean, why would you? Failing SUCKS. I’ve never been good at dealing with it. I don’t like to fuck things up, to put it bluntly. Which is funny, because i’m far from perfect, but on the whole, i try to avoid failure. Except…..I still fail at things. A lot. The whole reason i’m writing all this is because i failed to achieve my goals, moped about it, sat on my arse, ate some more and ballooned out to where I am now. I saw failure as just that, a ‘lack of success’, which is wrong. I should view failure as a lesson – how not to do something, how to improve, what to try next.
In terms of my current goals, i can reflect back to one of my biggest failures, Ironman Regensburg. The funny thing is though, I don’t actually think of that as a failure. Okay, so I didn’t get to the end, but you know what?, i got to the start. I rocked up, swam (like a brick, to be fair…), cycled a bit (slowly), then had to stop because i missed the cut-off. One of the happiest memories I have of that day, however, is getting to the top of a hill on the bike course and thinking “wow, i only just managed to cycle that without getting off and walking, so i’ll definitely have to walk the worst hill”……except that was the worst hill, I just hadn’t realised. I got to the feed station, passed through it then started to go downhill, when it clicked, and i’ve honestly never felt happier in my life. I had achieved something major. Now some people cycled up that hill cheetah like, as if on crack and being chased by bears. Not me though, which is why I was so happy. I don’t do hills, except I just did! So clearly I can learn from failure – I can see the positives when I need to. It isn’t all bad.
So what of that 20 miler? Well, i’ve booked tomorrow afternoon off work to do it. I’m not going to let it beat me. I’m hoping it will go as well as the 18 miler, but even if it doesn’t, i’m going to get it done. It isn’t even really about the running, it is just about not giving up. For sure i’ll screw up again, and again…..and probably again, but I can’t let these times get the better of me. Last weekend I fell down, so tomorrow I need to stand right back up 🙂 I’ll report back when it is done.