This post was supposed to be about something entirely different but sometimes things just don’t work out the way you planned.  As many of you that regularly read my blog know, I set some running goals for myself this year.  One of those goals was to run a sub-4 hour marathon.  My plan was to do that at the Houston Marathon in January.  But that didn’t happen.  So instead of celebrating achieving my goal, this post is about what to do when you fail.

Like I said earlier, my goal was to run a sub-4 hour marathon.  I trained for months for it and even through challenges managed to stay on track.  Realistically, the pace required for that goal is a comfortable pace for me and I fully expected to finish closer to 3:50 or 3:55.  Race morning was beautiful and as close to perfect as I could have asked for.  Temps were ideal for running and I felt great.  I was physically and mentally to tackle 26.2 miles and reach my goal.

The race started and things were going great.  My pace was right on track and quite comfortable and the miles were flying by.  I had to remind myself several times to slow down a little and stick to my plan.  I hit the halfway point right at my planned time.  I was truly enjoying the day, the crowd support and my love of running.  Somewhere around mile 14 or so my calf started to hurt.  Marathons are painful and many times pains come and go so it wasn’t anything to be concerned about.  When it got bad enough, I walked for a little bit to rest it.  After the pain eased, I started running again and was fine for a while.  But that didn’t last for long.  After a few run/walk intervals, it was clear that something was wrong and I had to slow down.  The rest of the race consisted of slow run/fast walk intervals and I crossed the finish line in 4:18, over 18 minutes past my realistic goal time.

I failed.

Was I disappointed? Without a doubt.

Will this setback keep me from reaching my goal?  No way!

So, to turn my failure into something more positive and helpful, I’m going to share with you my strategies to handle failure.  These can be applied not only to running but to life.  We’ve all experienced a failure or two that we’ve overcome.  The key is to keep moving forward and not let it discourage you.  I can assure you that, even though I failed to reach my goal this time, there will be another time.  And if it doesn’t work out that time, I will keep trying until it happens.  I will not give up.  If your goal is important enough to you, you’ll keep going and not give up!

Get over it

I’m not sure that anyone would ever say that failure feels good.  And it didn’t feel good for me.  But I gave myself a few minutes to process those emotions and get over it.  Dwelling on it won’t help at all so it’s important to move on and get over the feeling of failure.

Assess what went wrong

In order to get different results, it is necessary to change something.  In order to understand what needs to be changed, it is important to assess what went wrong.   Analyze what went right and what went wrong.  Your revised plan will include what went right and work to change what went wrong.

Regroup and revise the plan

Based on what you assessed went wrong, figure revise your plan to make whatever changes you need.  Every failure can be a learning experience that gets you a little closer to success.  It may require some trial and error to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

Keep after it and try, try again

Persistence is the key.  The next time may not be the time you succeed but you will get a little closer.  History provides us with examples of well-known figures that endured many failures before finding success.    People from Oprah Winfrey to Einstein to Walt Disney failed many times but now are known for their success.  While you may never desire to be as well-known as any of these people, you have it within you to achieve your own dreams if you keep trying.

I’m now in the process of regrouping and revising my plan and continue to chase my dreams.  I’m not sure when I will succeed but I can assure you that I will!

How do you overcome failure and keep focused on your goals?  Tell me about it in the comments below!

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