Dealing with failure

After yet another failure to achieve a goal today I’m left wondering how others deal with it.

I’m always trying to teach my students a growth mindset and resilience, but am struggling to practice what I preach.

I am not setting attainable goals?
Am I over estimating my ability?
Am I self sabotaging my efforts?
Do I need to step away from setting any kind of target?

Discussing this with non-athletes is tricky as they sometimes struggle to relate

I think you might be overtraining tbh.

Do you think it’s potentially more a psychological barrier you’re hitting?

I’m also interested in your comments about ‘heat’ given it’s December. You’re used to events being 35+ so I’m wondering how you would compare those experiences in Tri to this endeavour?

Are you training in the costume? How often?

Bit busy with the kids at the mo, but I’ll put some thoughts down this evening when I have time. I think it’s a common theme in athletes with even the finest hint of competitive spirit. I’ve certainly fallen foul of it many times. For some reason I’m much better at dealing with it as I’ve matured. I’ll try to see if I can work out why/how.

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Unrelated to the OP, but over the years people have said “I wish I could do that” or "wish I could be as fit as you".

I rarely spend (waste) much time responding in most cases, as the answer is obvious: application. I don’t go around telling people I wish I was x or y.

This is related to the OP though: specificity, optimisation and patience.


When you’re doing a hot event, there is at least some relief when you get a sponge or ice

With the ninja suit, there’s no way of releasing the heat once it’s built up.

You can’t dump water on as you’re basically water boarding yourself.

Second time up the lake it just kicked in.
When I took the suit off, the whole thing was sodden.

More and more I think it’s this.

It’s like I’m so accustomed to failing, that when it starts to get tough, I don’t have the ability to push through anymore, I just go “hey ho, let’s add that to the list”

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I deal with failure every day. It’s all part of the process. Luckily - my profession is maybe one of the very few where mistakes are often opportunities.

The painter Tal R says success is just buying pastries on the way home. Failure is far more nutritious - that’s the way back in the next day. It’s like having a finished drawing in your studio. It’s a closed book.

if you have a belief or vision or a bit of grit you’ll get through

Possibly I’d suggest not leaving it totally but set it aside for something else for a while. You’ll come back to it more objectively and dispassionately so you won’t be so despondent

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Hence optimisation. Can’t you do something to the costume to allow your body to breathe? Think of how they design technical outdoor clothing…pit vents etc. You could have them zippered or Velcro.

To you it might be shades of grey, to me it’s something else.

John Kelly had a blog on this topic the other day:

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Possibly, but I’ve decided to sack off the ninja.

The one/two combo of the heat plus the shoes isn’t in my wheelhouse.

Maybe if I was a lot lighter it might be ok

I’m sorry to hear about your race @funkster . What you’re detailing is pretty much where I am and have been since SDW100 and especially NC110 DNFs.

This came up at our team dinner on Thurs, where they asked why I continue to beat myself over these races. They think the distance I did cover was amazing but that’s the gap between their perception and an athlete’s expectation of themselves.

I don’t think it’s healthy but I’m shit scared of stopping and never starting again.

I wish I had the answers for you mate :slightly_frowning_face:

Okay, if I’m brutality honest with you, the nail was hit in my previous post: application.

It looks like you targeted this in August. So you’ve targeted a GWR and decided to give-up after 4 months.

Nothing worthwhile was ever easily.


Probably took Titian ten years to complete some paintings.

Imagine he didn’t bludgeon away at them every day for ten years. He’d lean them against a wall and forget about them for a while or have a few on the go and walk around the studio with the dregs from his palette and see where he could plop the colour down.

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There’s a really good Malcolm Gladwell podcast on this topic, how some pieces of art needed time and iteration to come to fruition

Not entirely true.

Started the journey for this in early 2020 including runs in the suit pre-pandemic.

Lots of running through all the lockdowns and was in great shape.

What’s let me down today, or one of the things, is a disappearance in run form since October.

I do take on board your point about application though, so will factor that in


Thanks dude.

This quote is going on the wall of my classroom

“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about”

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I think that form could be through overtraining though, despite the application comment. Weren’t you doing >70 miles some weeks? I think that’s a lot at our age, subject to personal circumstances.

That was in the marathon build.

Thing is I was literally running before work, work and then feet up after.

Being a single dude, if I want to spend all on the sofa I can, so my recovery can be targeted quite well.

I wouldn’t say I was over trained, but perhaps the training was specific enough, hence my comment “Am I over estimating my ability?”

I think its healthy to look back at failures an analyse what went wrong, what went well and what should do differently next time. At work we do retrospectives on a period of work and put things in to columns, Start, Stop Continue.

Start - what didnt I do this time that I will do next time? Look at your 4 questions. Was the goal attainable? Only you can really answer this. But look at what you are trying to do and seriously critique if it is something that is possible. Do I need to re-evaluate how I set my goals. What things that I know could be beneficial should I do next time.

Stop - you ask are you sabotaging your efforts. Well, are you? When you look back, what didnt go well, what did you do that you should stop doing next time?

Continue - probably the most important, What were you doing well that you will continue to do? Was it training consistency, nutrition etc. Focus on what you did well.

Another thing I like to do is have a set of goals. One that you know is relatively easily attainable, then a stretch goal.

I think as well its important to ask yourself. How much do you really want it? And that feeds into is it achievable? Because if something is going to be hard to achieve youve got to really want it, so that you can absolutely everything possible to achieve it.

I wasnt a swimmer when I was younger, took it up im 30s, after some coaching I was pretty decent. Nothing compared to the life long swimmers. I had a goal to beat 6mins in a pool 400m, open turns. I achieved that 5:51. Then I started making more and more targets, and working harder, and I realised it. Its not worth it. I dont want it that much. Maybe you need to have a hard look at , what do you really want and why do you want it?