5 things to learn from your first “fail”

1- DONT BE DEFEATED BY FAILURE

According to the interweb the spectrum of definition for “fail” is pretty broad:
i.  to fall short of success or achievement in something expected, attempted, desired, or approved
ii.  to receive less than the passing grade or mark in an examination, class, or course of studyto be or become deficient or lacking; fall short
iii.  to lose strength or vigor; become weak
iv.  to stop functioning or operating
v.  to dwindle, pass or die away

So depending on what kind of optimist you are, you are near death or simply fell short of your definition of success (thefreedictionnary.com). Having placed in the bottom percent at a recent event I’d like to look at my experience as the latter. There’s a very negative connotation to using dirty words like “losing” or “failing” because society favour stories of “seeing through ones goal” or “came in with my best package” or things like “its really more about the journey” when in reality there’s a certain aspect of victory to each failure.

Truth be told I’d rather fail than quit at something. Without a willingness to live failure you would never reach a goal. Why we set goals on the other hand is another matter entirely but I like to think I live a life of varied experiences. This Michael Jordan quote comes to mind: “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

As MC Mike Saunders put it: “This is a sport where there’s a winner and loser”. This is fact – you can either lift it or you can’t, or you can do it faster than the other gal/guy. Period. THIS IS WHY STRENGTH SPORTS ARE AWESOME!! Judging criteria are yay or nay and you can only aspire to score better at your next event. Look at your shortcomings, look at your training/nutrition and look at your head-space. I’ve already started this process and have new fire in my belly to be a better athlete and better competitor.

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(With Mike Saunders at the 2014 Carp Fair)

2 – PAY ATTENTION TO THE PRO’S

Not because they’re old and funny looking, but because they may have some pearls of wisdom you can learn from.

Prior to the tire flip, I noticed another athlete throw on a tshirt covered in chalk. I’ve seen this before but because I’m cocky and have a huge ego I though my delts of steel were a valuable ally for this easy 400lb tire.

Like hundreds of times before, I position myself behind the tire, play out the movements in my head and wait for the whistle to signal my start. The sun is unusually hot for this September day and after my first two flips the effort is enough for my delts of steel to slicken with sweat. I slip forward, again and again. No matter how I try to muscle my way through this I’m just too dang slippery for this shiny new tire.

I’ll be sure to have my ego in check next time because this can cost me a couple points and a decent placing. Rest assured I now take into serious consideration all the footwear, clothing changes and accessories I can potentially use to give me an edge. I may even cut my hair like Kalle Beck’s if it makes me more aerodynamic for OHP.

with-great-hair-velvet_design

(Order this shirt here:  http://startingstrongman.com/store/apparel/ )

3 – PUT YOUR PRIDE ASIDE

There is confidence and there is cockiness. Pride can manifest itself in many ways – after we do something monumentally awesome, it makes us feel supercool. Pride can also hinder your progress if you don’t keep your cock in check.

Injuries happen because we think we’re superhuman strongmen, we deadlift cars for fun and our balls are made of concrete and weigh as much as we do. A good plan and some smart training should prevent injuries even if it means gains are at a slower speed than your training buddy. Sometimes its a part of the plan to push through that barrier and achieve new norms, but sometimes that nagging pain is reason to chill out.

I ventured into this recent event with a handful of significant injuries and questioned if I should even push through the inevitable discomfort. In hindsight would I have done things differently – heck no! I’m a spokesperson for this sport and sometimes there are things greater than yourself and your own ambition that are worth fighting for! A win for this sport as a whole is a win for me as a female athlete because it gives me a platform which I can thrive to improve upon.

4- EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED

Its hotter than usual or its raining; your nerves make you feel like your mouthwash was made from shrapnel and you may puke out your breakfast anytime. Implements are changed, and things weigh more and you have to carry them for longer distances than planned. The judge is being a jerk, you cant hear him over the roaring crowd and you didn’t get your competitor start confirmation. Everything in your external environment can change at any given moment. You can train for months and feel like sh*t the day of your event; you can injure yourself a week prior or even in the heat of it. Anything can happen and that doesn’t make you any different or special than everyone else. How you deal with those variables in my opinion is how this will define you.

My training buddy Tim offered me this pearl of wisdom (calm down Tim, I’m not saying you’re old):  “Only a competitor will know what it is like to stand before a large crowd and lay it all on the line.”

5 – APPRECIATE WHAT YOU’VE ACCOMPLISHED

Learn to appreciate that you’ve discovered your body’s limitations, something which most aim to achieve but never accomplish. Furthermore, in that appreciation you discover a new baseline to breach. A runner will always finish a marathon wondering if he/she has truly pushed the limit of their physical potential. You strongman/strongwoman, undeniably have. Congratulations.

We humans have extraordinarily physical capabilities. The journey to discover the limits of the human body is a fine trait only shared by professional athletes, record holders and champions. Few humans see this challenge as a source to grow and learn themselves.

Only a competitor will know what it is like to stand before a large crowd and lay it all on the line.” – Timothy C. Dulmage

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