The Success-Failure Cycle

I'm a fan of American Ninja Warrior and was recently reading ANW competitor Kacy Cantanzaro's blog. Kacy made history last season by going further than any woman previously had on ANW and is a huge favorite among ANW fans. This is what she wrote about not making the qualifying rounds this past Monday:
Failure can be defined by lack of success. But is it necessarily a bad thing? Life tells us you can learn from failure and it can make you stronger if you don't let it tear you down.

Failure. Success. Failure. Success. Failure.

Failure is definitely a never-ending cycle. I failed, came back and succeeded, and now here I am again back at failure.

Brent [Steffensen, an ANW competitor and Kacy's boyfriend] reminded me to use your failures as stepping stones for success. I am going to take that advice and keep training with the hopes of a wild-card spot to the Vegas finals.

This made me think of my own running. My first thought was that my own cycle in races is more like Failure. Failure. Failure. Success. Failure. Failure. Failure. But that's not the whole story.

This past winter while training for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon, it was more like success, success, success in training, with the vast majority of my runs being really great and only two notable failures--the Spring Thaw and Pittsburgh Half Marathon races.

Ever since the Pittsburgh Half Marathon at the beginning of May and the onset of hot weather, everything seems to have gone downhill. Most of my runs are hard, and it's frustrating to not be able to hit my paces for speedwork that I was doing this time last year. But then this morning I had a great speedwork session, running faster than my 9:30 goal pace for each of the four half-mile repeats and feeling strong and in control the whole time.

I can learn from all this. My success-failure cycle is much different in winter, with a majority of successes, than it is in summer, with a majority of failures. This confirms that I need to run goal races in the cool weather months. And I can--and do--learn from all the races that don't go as I'd planned. While I would love all my runs and all my races to be successes, maybe it's not such a bad thing when I fail. Maybe I would be less motivated to put in the training and try my best. Maybe I wouldn't learn as much. Maybe the successes wouldn't be as rewarding.

While hot weather running is so much harder, I'm going to do what Kacy is doing and keep training. Some days, like today, I'll have a good run. It feels so good when that happens! And when I don't have a good run or race, I'll try to embrace the failure as a stepping stone to a more rewarding future success.

If you haven't seen Kacy's 2014 finals competition, where she made history by being the first woman to complete a finals course, check it out! Kacy is absolutely amazing, and I have no doubt she will see many more successes in the future!

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