Why failure is good (in life and running)

It is human nature to fail at something and get frustrated and give up.  There are countless forms of failure in running (not hitting a goal time, not hitting a weight loss goal, getting injured, etc.).  How can those things possibly be good?

Photo from Arnold Inuyaki
How did Michael Jordan learn from failure?

Some people never understand how failure can be good and until recently I was someone who didn’t really understand this either.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Thomas Edison

We must look at failure as learning experiences in everything we do.  When we fail at something we must reevaluate how we could have done something not just differently but more effectively.  In running this might mean looking back after a race and asking why you fell off your goal pace halfway through?  (Possibly not enough work at goal pace, overtraining, etc.).

Not only should failure not be looked at negatively but it must be embraced and used as a tool to reassess yourself.  These are learning experiences and having a positive outlook on them can change your worldview.

Write down your runs in a journal and look back once in a while at your comments on each run.  What could you have done better?  Sure, this is a hassle but the cost-to-benefit ratio is worth it if you know what factors of your training and life to monitor and change as needed.

What have you failed at?  In hindsight, what could you have learned from it?

Update: While attending the ICE Conference today in St. Charles, Illinois I was able to view one of Diana Laufenberg‘s presentation. Her presentation was on the topic of using failure as a tool and she played this Honda commercial about learning from failure and I found it worth adding to this post. You should watch this. After watching please leave a comment below as to how you can use this in life, business, sports, education, etc.


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