Learning the Lesson

I read a quote the other day that was along the lines of “lessons in life will keep presenting themselves until you learn from them.”

I remember back when I was playing rec basketball growing we had a game coming up that was supposed to be a landslide victory for us. My team was one of the best in this league and the team we were playing wouldn’t have a full team on game day. A few of their players were out of town and some were sick. But they still allowed us to play the game even though they would only have 4 players.

It was 5 against 4. And we had a few extras to be able to sub in. My team, especially myself thought we would kill the other team. I went in thinking I was gonna score more than the other team’s final score.

I was a complete ball hog. And the other team came totally prepared. It was such a frustrating game. I was trying to force everything and I was missing every shot. Not surprisingly…

We lost the game.

I remember feeling embarrassed and ashamed. How could a team of 4 beat 5?

After I thought about this, I started to look back at the 3 times I have ran the Destin 50K. Even though my time has continuously improved, it’s the same lesson life keeps throwing at me. (2012: 6:25, 2013: 5:15, 2014 4:47)

This week, I read Elite Minds by Dr. Stan Beecham for the second time. It’s a book about the mental side of training and really inspires you to reach your full potential. A lot of quotes hit me in the face this time around that I can very much relate to.

“There is no success without failure. Success is what you do after you fail. One of the reasons people have consecutive failures is because they failed to see the value or learn the lesson of the first failure.”

“Performing at the highest level is not about talent, ability, size, speed, facilities, equipment, weather conditions, or even effort. It’s about being free. Free from expectations of self and others, free from criticism, free from fear, and free from ‘should’ and ‘have to.’

There are many routes to success. Don’t be overly invested in a specific outcome or result. This will bite you in the butt every time. Freedom means no attachments, no desire, just one very quiet mind leaving you to perform to the best of your natural abilities that have been trained during intentional practice.”

Looking back at my more successful races, I wasn’t focused on a specific time or goal. I just went out and ran with all I could give. I wasn’t focused on a future point (time goal). I was only focused on the here and now. Everything was internal, not worrying about and reaching for that specific time.

Like my little league game, I have been focused on certain outcomes in Destin. I’ve been thinking externally and not in the present moment. By no means, did I think it would be easy to win Destin. But like that basketball game, I was thinking of the end game, not the process.

If I kept my focus inward and just in the moment, I may have done even better this year. It’s like when everyone says to “run your own race.” Focus only on yourself and not worry about other things. Which was great advice Ian Sharman shared with me for my 2 Questions. So it’s sage advice for all distances too.

Just run. Don’t worry about who’s in front of you and who’s behind. Don’t worry about what place you’re in or wish you were in. Don’t worry about what the clock will read when you finish. Just relax your mind, focus on yourself and give it your all.

“In order to do well in a competitive environment, we must learn to focus on the process and not the outcome. Believing that you will do well keeps your mind free from distractions and anxious thoughts and a quiet mind leads to a great performance.” -Stan Beecham

14 thoughts on “Learning the Lesson

  1. Trails and Ultras

    Very interesting post, and one I completely agree with. It reminds me of the buddhist philosophies which state we have to let go of our attachment to our desires in order to be content.

  2. Stefan

    I enjoyed reading the race report earlier, … and now the observations. These brought back painful memories, but are humorous now after reading your blog, e.g., passing up the first aid station, wanting a Big Mac near the end of the Marine Corps Marathon, and seeing the aerial lift bridge, i.e., the finish line, from the start of Grandma’s Marathon.

  3. zachary

    Great takeaway Joey. The race has been run, so you can’t change that, but you certainly can learn from it, and store it away from your next race, the one after, and for Destin 2015 !

    1. Joey Post author

      I’d rather have the lesson to learn from than have a perfect race now instead of later on in life. Sounds weird, but I grow with these experiences and hopefully they will allow me to reach my full potential.

  4. fullmoonrunner

    Great post! Thank you for sharing this. I will definitely have a look at this book. I too have found and my best runs (and races) have been the ones in which I’ve been most relaxed and carefree, and certainly not focussed on or specifically aiming for a certain outcome. My half-marathon PB has stood for years now, and I ran it in a race which I entered last minute while on holiday. It’s infuriating and very telling at the same time!


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