Can you be content . . .


. . . with failure?

Content: satisfied with what one has; not wanting more or anything else.

If you read my blog, the answer would seem self evident: I am not content with failure. Not content with being BOTP, not content with races where my training doesn’t seem to pay off, not content when I’m dealt a bad weather hand . . . shall we go on?

And when I do fail (and I will), I certainly don’t fall into the not wanting more or anything else.

It makes me sound like the a true grinch, doesn’t it? An angry, negative person? I hope my friends would set you straight, because I don’t consider myself to be that person.

My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.— Abraham Lincoln

Failure must be an option
When you’ve got astronauts trapped in outer space, I get it — you have to figure out a way to get them back. When it comes to racing, however, you’re going to fail. Probably over and over and over again.

Every failure is a step to success. — William Whewell

Even if you start running and everything is great, the PRs keep rolling in, you’re injury free — at some point the tables will turn. Maybe you get injured. Maybe your hard training doesn’t net you a PR. Maybe you fall out of love with running.

What you do next can make or break your running success. Do you hang up your running shoes and never race again? Do you stop running altogether? Do you just content yourself with past glories and assume your glory years are over?

Or do you dig deep and continue to race, continue to train, knowing that some day, some way, the training will pay off.

I hope it’s the latter. I had many running failures (as far as races are concerned). Disappointing race after disappointing race. Injury. Yet I kept at it, with no PRs, no AG awards — and then the PRs did start rolling in.

Every disappointing race was just a step towards success.

There were a lot of disappointing halfs before this PR, just like there were a lot of tries at getting to a healthy weight before I could get to a place where I’ve been able to maintain a healthy weight.

It’s not a failure if you are content to keep trying
The only way we learn and grow is if we are not content with failure (sorry, Abe). Our biggest growth does come from our failures, because we learn from them and they build mental toughness.

I’m not suggesting that you need to be content with failure — seriously, who ever crossed the finish line of a bad race and say “go me!”. It’s okay to be disappointed and frustrated. Just channel that into motivating you to continue — but not so much that you over train and burn out or injure yourself. Be content with the knowledge that better races are out there for you.

It’s a brand new year for me. I have yet to race in 2018.  I have dreams and goals, but one thing I know for sure:

Whether or not my goals are achieved this year, I will believe that every failure is a stepping stone to a future success. I believe (there’s that 2018 word — do you remember yours?) that failures will happen, that I will learn from my failures, and that I will be content with the journey and in the knowledge that my failures will ultimately lead me towards even greater successes.
— Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy

Deb Runs

I am linking up with Debruns and her Wednesday Word

I’m linking up with with MCM Mama Runs, Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and My No Guilt Life for the Tuesdays on the Run linkup.


This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup


Tell me in the comments:

Are you content with the journey?

Do you believe it’s possible to be content with the failures?

34 thoughts on “Can you be content . . .

  1. But would you be content if you trained hard and didn’t get those PRs? I know runners who are in that situation.

    I think to be content, you can’t call anything a failure.

    To be content, you have to look at the positives. Even if you don’t lose weight or meet your goal pace.

    So I agree I disagree.

    I’m glad you pointed out your word. I had forgotten mine already.

    It’s adapt. Perfect for me, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You already know I’ve had a lot of races I’ve trained hard for that were very disappointing. Forget a PR, they weren’t even close to what I thought I could do.

      And I do agree — I have you have to make friends with failure to grow & improve. Of course you’re never content in the moment, but looking back, you should can be content that it was all part of the process and led you to wherever you are today.

      I think I picked the right word for me this year. Because I can actually keep it in mind. 🙂 I picked it because I thought I would be doing certain races that would be really tough, but then my plans changed.

      Not that i haven’t picked out some tough ones anyway!


  2. I definitely fall into the “not content” category. The main reason I’m running a marathon next month is because I was not at all content with my Chicago Marathon experience. I know that my training proved I was capable of a better finish time so I hope to hit that goal next month!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course no one is content with a bad race. But . . . it’s important to be content withe process, and bad races will be part of that process.

      Not being content with that can lead to over training or pushing too hard — which geez, now that I think about it, should have been part of the post! Maybe I’ll edit it for tomorrow’s linkup. 🙂


    1. I don’t mind setting hard goals, but I’m also practical about it & not pie in the sky stuff. In order to push yourself, though, inevitably you’re going to fail. And if you don’t push, you don’t grow.

      Of course there’s that fine line of pushing enough to grow without pushing TOO much.


  3. I don’t know that I’m content with failure or not content with failure. Okay, I’m probably more NOT content with failure because I don’t like to fail. That said, I’m more accepting of failure, especially when it comes to running. I understand that there’s that whole, “on any given day” thing and you don’t know what you’re going to get at race time. But, I don’t let failure to achieve a PR or a certain time or whatever stop me. Every race is a success of some sort and, if I suffered failure at some point, I hope that I can learn from it and move forward. 🙂

    I like this post, Judy. People don’t often think about failure because it’s not fun – failing or thinking about it. But, it happens and sometimes, reflection is a good way to find out where exactly you are on the growth scale. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m content with shorter distances, but I still want to challenge myself. I’ve done 3 successful 10k races, so now I’m going to try a 12k. Then my next idea, and I’d have to get in, is back to back races with a 5k and 10k.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have never done back to back races. The closest I’ve come is doing a long run before a race, but the couple of times I’ve done it the race was a recovery run & I treated it as such.

      Actually, if it hadn’t been so hot I might have raced one of those, but it wasn’t worth pushing because it was getting close to a goal race.

      I do think it’s important to have challenges!


  5. These days, if I make it across the finish line I’m good!! I was disappointed not getting to run Chicago after training all summer, but that was something totally out of my control. I haven’t even thought about running another marathon yet. I’m actually enjoying being consistent right now. Sure, I’d love to get faster, but every time I attempt speed work I get injured.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you absolutely have every right to be disappointed with all that training down the drain! You’ve come back so strong, though. I’m sure if you decide to tackle a marathon again you’ll get it done. You’re very inspiring, you know.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. At this point in my running journey, I’m content with knowing my PRs are in the rear view mirror and I’m grateful for having run them. Now I’m content with training reasonably and racing reasonably.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I think that each run is a learning opportunity, but that is a perspective I’ve cultivated over the years. I think you need to have that perspective, then failure doesn’t exist because you can always succeed at learning.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is true — you always learn something. But that doesn’t change the fact that we will sometimes fail to meet our goals (which doesn’t have to have anything to do with speed, by the way).

      Failure’s gonna happen, it’s what you do with it that helps you to grow.


  8. Are you content with the journey? Yes. Of course if hindsight were foresight I would have done some things differently. In this life we never stop learning. At least I don’t ever want to.

    Do you believe it’s possible to be content with the failures? No. I think failure makes me try even harder. There is always room for improvement.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is a tough one for me! I am far from content in many ways, but I know better than to wish your life away and I also have experienced how far things can go downhill in an instant, so I know I better. I try to enjoy the place were I am. It may as good as I’ll ever have it again.
    I have not decided if failure tells it is beyond my capabilities, it seems like it does.
    I do like seeing others achieve those happy moments though and meeting their goals! I will know I am too far gone when I can’t enjoy that anymore lol

    Liked by 1 person

  10. With road running, I have trouble staying content with failures. I get super bent out of shape over times and PRs. Trail running, I’m usually just happy to get out alive. I guess a DNF is failure there, and that hasn’t happened to me yet. I’m sure it will at some point.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s funny, many runners I know don’t even want to try trail running, and I think that it’s often because they have to swallow their ego and slow down (besides the fear of injury, of course!).

      I get annoyed at a missed goal as much as anyone, but it doesn’t usually last too long.


  11. This! This is so important for everyone to remember and you state it so well. “Even if you start running and everything is great, the PRs keep rolling in, you’re injury free — at some point the tables will turn. Maybe you get injured. Maybe your hard training doesn’t net you a PR. Maybe you fall out of love with running.” In my case, maybe you’re at an age where running a race faster than you did 15 years ago is nearly impossible. So what did I do? I set what I call “age adjusted” PR goals for myself. These goals give me something reasonable to work toward and give me an opportunity to still see successes.

    Thanks for linking up, Judy!

    Liked by 1 person

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