Mistakes in running (and in life) are both inevitable and essential to our success. The little ones and the big ones all add up to teach us something and can make us better, smarter and stronger—if we choose to learn from them. I believe that with all of my heart. It sure doesn’t mean it’s easy, though. We have to be brave and responsible to learn the lessons from our mistakes. We have to own them, to adapt and make changes in order to improve and grow from them.
I have been running marathons for 14 years. I wholeheartedly believe that I would not be the runner that I am today if it were not for all the mistakes I have made and the lessons I learned from them.
In the beginning, I think pretty much everything I did was a mistake. For the first nine or so years of my running, I did so much wrong. The thing is, the biggest mistake that I made during that stretch of my running was that I had no clue that the power to change was within me and my choices all along. Sure, some variables are always out of our control, but I never took accountability for how I handled them or how I prepared myself moving forward. I was full of excuses when things didn’t go my way—the weather, the hills, the side-stitch, the lack of sleep, the nutrition made me feel icky, I just wasn’t “made” to be a good runner. I kept holding onto the same bad habits, training cycle after training cycle. As a result, my marathons and other races were all about the same—I over-trained and under-fueled each and every single time.
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I started to figure things out. The realization that I had the power of choice, and that I could make different choices about how I trained and raced, changed my running dramatically. I became very self-aware and thoughtful about how what I was doing and how I was doing it impacted my runs and my races. I changed my attitude about my failures and began to see them as opportunities for growth, experiences that could teach me how to be better. Now, with each training cycle and race I evaluate what went right and what went wrong and make changes accordingly. It has been very empowering and is the biggest reason why I took my marathon time from 5:21 to 3:11 over the course of the last 14 years.
Attitude is everything when it comes to our mistakes. We can let them crush us and pin us down, paralyzing us and keeping us in a holding pattern of negative thinking and bad habits —or we can stand up tall, grow and learn from them! That is the braver choice, the harder choice, and in my mind … really the only choice if you want to move forward.
For more on the Saucony 26 Strong program, which pairs up 13 coaches with 13 marathon rookies, visit 26Strong.com.