I am not sure why but last Tuesday was the worst day of training since beginning the Marathon Schedule in June. Seven-mile runs are always hard but that day was particularly rough; I ran a very slow pace (10:03 mile) then eventually stopped running and walked the rest of the way home (the one thing you should NEVER do).
Unfortunately no matter how hard we try there will always be days when we fail miserably; the important thing is not allowing that failure to affect what we do in the future. Things like embarrassment will stick in our mind and try to keep us from attempting anything that has a high level of risk or failure, especially if we have already failed at that particular task. Eventually they will become voices in our head that tell us things like “remember what happened last time you tried that?” “Just give up there is no hope” or “you will just fail again.”
Obviously it’s impossible to completely forget those failures but we can keep ourselves from dwelling on them. Instead of completely focusing on failure’s embarrassment (like slowly walking home instead of sprinting) focus on the present (doing better today than last time) and the future (making sure it never happens again).
Thursday morning was the next seven-mile day. That morning I prepared for a challenge that wasn’t physical but mental and emotional because the discouraging voices would return as it got harder. Sure enough at the halfway point as I started up a long hill they returned and started giving me lots of reasons for slowing down or quitting. Thankfully this time I didn’t listen to them and was able to finish the run strong.
What’s interesting is the failure that discouraged and humiliated me Tuesday was actually a motivation to keep going two days later. Training requires having motivation other than my own strength since most of the time physical energy and a desire to be healthy can only allow a person to go so far. Thursday the frustration of walking home instead of finishing strong before was the source of strength that helped me…because that wasn’t going to happen twice in one week. Now sure there are lots of less painful things I would rather use for motivation but that doesn’t change the fact that failure kept me going.
The issue with those experiences is we allow them to control us instead of our controlling them. I will listen to its reasons for quitting when my body feels like it instead of drawing upon the humiliation from last time I quit early and pushing forward. A lot of this is due to the fact that we bury our failures under a ton of emotional dirt so nobody can see them and try to permanently block them from our mind. However if we are willing to dig those embarrassing memories up (it’s painful I know) we will find they can be used for the Glory of God.