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Failed? 2 Steps to Recalibrate Perspective

The slight chill in the air, calm breeze, and a cloudless morning all set the stage for the perfect race day. The energy was surging from the starting line as I made my way to coral #9. I had trained.  I was mentally focused. My race goal of a 4:02:31 (9:15 pace) marathon was set. 

The horn blared marking the start of the race.  I cautiously started to run, not wanting to start out too fast.  My first mile was sub 9:00. And my second. And my third. I felt amazing. Maybe it was race day energy. Maybe it was the fact that I was actually running outside. Maybe it was internal emotions that were begging to be released.

I felt stronger as the miles quickly ticked by.  When I saw Kim and the girls at mile 14, I energetically shared with them that I was averaging an 8:40 mile. The next four miles were a blur. I felt great, both physically and mentally.  Then mile 18 hit me like a moth against the windshield.  My legs revolted against forward movement.  Distance on my GPS started to click by at a snail’s pace. The mental conversation took a sudden shift. My mind, which was once filled with euphoric and optimistic conversations, was now filled with doubt and failure. My average pace started to quickly move in the opposite direction. 8:40 – 8:42 – 8:45.  The harder I tried to keep my pace up, the slower I ran. The slower I ran, the louder the voices in my head screamed at me. I changed music. I recited internal motivational phrases. I even tapped into the deepest emotional reservoirs – nothing.  I wanted to quit at mile 23. Not because I didn’t think I could finish, but I realized that my sub 9 minute mile pace wasn’t going to happen. Mile 24 – I questioned why I was doing this. Mile 25 – Failure consumed me. The last 0.2 miles – was an arduous journey just to get done.

The finish line should have been a moment of celebration, but I chose not to rejoice. I collapsed to the pavement and waited for my family to join me at the designated spot.

At that precise moment the journey to recalibrate perspective from my failure colored lenses commenced.

1. Listen to the voices inside outside your head. 

The voices inside my head were like a battering ram banging my skull with metronomic precision.  I convinced myself that I had failed. I fell short. I could have, no, I should have, done more. But the voices inside my head, were not remotely accurate to what I had just accomplished. Kim and the girls ran up to me at the end of the race and screamed, “You Did it!”. Perspective. Yes, I did do it. I finished the race. This aging dad of two ran 26.2 miles.

Geoff and Daniel’s encouraging text messages, from two guys who truly know the sacrifice and commitment needed to complete endurance races, pulled my head up.  Perspective!  I spent four months training for this one race. There were many days where I didn’t want to train, but I still laced up my shoes and ran. I even completed an 18 mile long run on a treadmill.

Numerous Facebook comments were so encouraging. It was Lee’s that grabbed a hold of me when she wrote, “Awesome Job! Such a good role model for your children that you really can do anything you put your mind to, no matter how difficult!” Perspective! My girls not only were out there supporting me, but they were able to experience their dad accomplish something extremely difficult. Kiara already wants to run a 5K with me.

It was the many outside voices, not the voices inside my head, that were critical to help me focus on what I accomplished.  The outside voices shifted my perspective. The outside voices were essential to help me discover #2.

2. Focus on what you didn’t did accomplish.

Self-evaluation is critical to continue to grow as a person. Here is what I learned from my race.

  1. FUELING: I needed a better fueling plan. I didn’t have one and it caught up to me late in the race.

  2. TREADMILL: Miles on the treadmill do not adequately prepare your body for the pounding on pavement.  There were cold days that I could have ran outside.

  3. LONG RUNS: I tried a new training plan that only had 18 miles as the longest run. I will go back to Hal Higdon’s training plan. He has multiple 20 mile long-runs.

  4. MARATHON: This was my first marathon in 8 years. My next one will be better.

  5. PACE: I went out to fast in the beginning. I knew it. I knew it. I knew it. But I didn’t stop it.

But it is so easy to only focus on only where you fail and the areas that you need to improve. It is critical that you celebrate, give yourself a hi-five, and focus on what you did accomplish. Speaking for myself, I spend a significant  amount of time critically tearing my actions and accomplishments apart and so little time celebrating the successes.  The reality is that I set two PR’s in one race.  I ran a 1:53:00 Half Marathon and a 3:57:00 Marathon. As my perspective started to shift, I jumped online to do some research. I discovered that only 36% of people have broken the sub two-hour half marathon mark.  I also discovered that only 0.5% of all people in the U.S. Have completed a marathon. And out of that 0.5%, only 25% have run a sub four-hour marathon.  Perspective! My internal voice of failure was quickly silenced, again. I had accomplished something significant!

But greater than those lessons, I learned that “my” perspective is not always the most accurate picture.  Just because you think it, doesn’t make it reality. Just because you see something a specific way, doesn’t mean that what you see is accurate. Just because you think you failed, doesn’t necessarily mean that you didn’t accomplish something great. [quote style=”boxed”]Recalibrate perspective by listening to trustworthy voices and celebrating your successes. TWEET THIS[/quote]

But before you go . . .maybe you, today, need to be the voice “outside” someone’s head. Seize this moment. Send a text or email. Make the phone call. Walk into that office. Open the bedroom door. Be a voice of strength. Be a voice of encouragement. Be a voice of wisdom. Be a voice of perspective. You never know how loud the voices inside someone’s head are and how critical your voice is to help recalibrate perspective.

PHOTO CREDIT: Rodion Kutsaevvia Unsplash 

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