We like to think of failure as this horrible word. Like we should all get participation medals for trying. I'd rather like to think of failure as the Devil I know, and have learned from. Here is what the bastard taught me in 2016:
- When you feel twinges of pain just stop running. I should have learned this after my first running injury in 2014, but apparently I needed a second lesson.
- When you do have pains, seek professional help. I had a minor ankle pain in the middle of my training, sought help and had it fixed quickly allowing me to carry on. Then when my plantar began acting up closer to the marathon I ignored it and my doctor. I knew if I went to see someone they would have dished me the bad news and ignorance is bliss. Had I at least been properly taped for Boston I may have had a better experience, but I went into it simply wishing for luck. Luck never came. Then I rushed back to running quickly and broke a metatarsal in my foot. After healing and returning in the fall I went back too quickly (raised my mileage too fast) and the plantar returned. So here I sit on the sidelines licking my wounds.
- Cross training is actually fun (and good for you). I know this, but again, learning lessons more than once is seemingly important to me. As I end the year I've discovered Zwift which is a great way to pass time on a bike trainer. I'm swimming a little, and doing a lot of yoga and gym work. I enjoy the yoga and grudginly admit I'm enjoying my strength gains in the gym.
- Live in the now. I actually kind of did well with this one in 2016. I very much enjoyed the two races I entered before Boston, feeling good with my fitness and enjoying the feeling of running. When my marathon fell apart for me at 15km I was able to switch my mind from being competitive to experiencing Boston fully. I started looking at the crowds & city, talking to other runners, I kissed a few girls at Wellesley College and dished out a few dozen high fives. Boston was an athletic letdown, but a personal high. So I learned to embrace my moments, even when they weren't going my way.
And of course I'm being a bit facetious as it's been a great year. My mileage is lower than it's ever been, even in my shortened 2014 season. But I've grown in other areas and I'm actually finishing the year feeling physically stronger than ever before. Eventually I'll be back running, and when I do I'll be the better athlete for it.
If you've made some sort of a New Year's resolution I'll offer one piece of advice. Don't worry about big heoric goals. Worry about conistency of effort. Respect your body, don't push through pain, but work sensibly around it. This is a long game and little failures are meant to be signposts pointing us in new directions. The end destination is rarely the fun part anyway, it's the abundance of experience that you'll look back on.
Happy New Year.