How to Reinterpret Failure in Triathlons
How can I overcome failure?
Failure is something many triathletes struggle with… But what if failure was more a friend than a foe?
It seems incomprehensible to view failure as a friend.
For a triathlete, failure can be quite devastating….
When you dedicate a huge part of your life to a sport, it is often difficult when you don’t see positive results.
But what is failure exactly?
Is failure not winning an event? Is failure not achieving a best time? Is failure losing to a rival?
When your sole view of failure is negative, under performing will chip away at your confidence and prevent you from achieving your true potential as a triathlete.
The truth of the matter is, failure is a friend.
A true friend not only celebrates your successes but points out your shortcomings in order to help you improve as a person.
So-called failure in a race can do the same thing a close friend does for you… point out areas that you could improve to become an even better triathlete.
All triathletes have setbacks, whether you are an elite level or a novice triathlete.
The trouble comes along when your perspective is skewed or you become narrowly focused on the negative, such as:
- Being solely focused on what went wrong, “My pace was so far off in the swim.”
- Being consumed by the things you didn’t accomplish, “Once again, I failed to get on the podium.”
- Ruminating about the mistakes you made during the race, “My transitions were horribly slow.”
If you are a quest to overcome failure, you must first re-interpret failure.
It is important to not let negative results dominate your thinking.
If you can reframe negative situations, you can learn a great deal, improve as a triathlete and overcome failure.
If your pace was off in the swim, get to the pool more and swim sets of 200s with minimal rest where you try to hold the same time.
If you failed to finish on the podium, evaluate what you need to improve physically, technically and mentally.
If your transitions are slow, dedicate time towards practicing transitions one day a week.
Look for the lesson in a bad race rather than seeing it as an indication of your ability.
Perspective is the key according to Nikki Kimball, a highly accomplished distance runner who specializes in Ultra-marathons.
KIMBALL: “An athlete needs to be able to look at what she could have done better, but she also needs to acknowledge what she did well. Looking only at the negative can lead to feelings of failure and frustration. When one does this too often, the athlete forgets that the primary reason humans start sports is that sports are fun. When I get lost in analyzing reasons for a poor performance, I lose the fun of running.”
Following Kimball’s practical advice will greatly benefit you to maintain confidence, gain insight from a race, improve as an athlete and, ultimately, overcome failure.
How to Overcome Failure
How can you grow and learn from this experience?
There are some positive aspects of every race. By finding the positive in a race, you can maintain a higher degree of confidence.
What’s the lesson for you mentally, strategically, and physically?
What can you learn from the race? What aspects of the race can you improve for the next race?
Use failure as a lesson to improve your performance in the next event!
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