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A Short Meditation on Failure

To be a runner and to race is to be vulnerable. It's exposing yourself to the cruelty of the stopwatch, the elements, and all the little gremlins that can derail a race well prepared for.

When you open yourself up to the world of racing, and deign to truly care about your results and how things go, there will inevitably be failure. There's always failure. No runner breezes through their career going from PR to PR with no setbacks, no injuries, no awfully executed races, no epic blowups, no mornings sitting next to the road or trail, flushed from exertion, head in your hands, trying to process what went wrong.

We've all been there, heartbroken and exhausted, puking on the side of trail, trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces and where to go from here.

I know all the cliches that come with failure. That it's not about the failure necessarily, it's about what we do next. How do we respond? How do we get back up? How do we brush ourselves off and move on to the next thing? People love to tell you that it's going to be OK, you're going to move on, come back stronger and more ready for the next time. The work doesn't go away, this was a great learning experience, yada yada yada.

I'm sure that I'm not the only one who gets sick of the platitudes. We know that it's coming from a place of love and support, that you want to see us rebound and smile and be happy and be positive and be gung-ho to take on the next challenge.

I'm here to tell you that it's OK to not be OK for awhile. There's purpose and joy to be found in taking something seriously, and there's hurt to be found when you fail in something that you've poured yourself into. It's going to hurt when you fail, and it's OK to emote, and be pissed, and not be OK after a performance gone awry. Feel all the feels, be angry, frustrated, annoyed, everything. Take time to learn, and absorb, convalesce, and heal from a bad day.

I'm here to tell you that you're not being overdramatic, and that it's OK to feel hurt after a bad day. You've opened yourself up to the joy and pain that comes from the vulnerability of putting yourself out there to be judged by the stopwatch or the finish line. It's not easy, it never was, and it never will be, but that's OK. That's why it's worth it. That's why it's worth the pain, anguish, and tears. It's worth it because when you find that finish line, the feeling of accomplishment and joy will overcome the feelings of pain from previous failures.

You'll get over your failures eventually. Pain doesn't last forever, it ebbs and flows. There's validity to the emotions of failure, but those emotions will fade and hopefully become fuel for your next goal. Soak in the pain, feel it all, but don't dwell for too long. Don't let pain become self-pity, turn it to fuel and prepare to work your ass off and open yourself up to, once again, the possibility of failure with the eventual promise of sweet sweet success.

Me starting to come to the realization that there may be no finish line today.

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