What To Do When You Do Your Best And Still Lose.

I looked at the race clock as I crossed the finish line — 2 hours 54 minutes and a few seconds.
I took a few more steps toward the volunteers handing me my medal and walked to the side of the fence where I knelt down to think for a minute.

What started out as a seemingly winnable conquest had turned into one of the toughest runs of my life.

I was disappointed. Tears came to my eyes as I knelt there thinking about the marathon I had just finished. Not bad by some standards. Sixth place overall. But not the winning performance that I planned on.

I was expecting to win. Training to win. Ready to win. My goal time was just over two and a half hours 2:35:00.

And then life and some crazy ambition got in the way.

Just 3 weeks ago, I ran the Arkansas Traveller 100. My coach and other experienced runners told me that it was absolutely crazy to run a marathon so quickly after putting my body through that distance of a race.

I didn’t understand the worry. After all, in my training runs I was able to run quick 5 minute miles. I was ready to go. My head was strong. My body was strong. All I needed was for the gun to go off and get the race going.

It didn’t take long though for the demands of the marathon to break me down. I felt myself gasping for air. (And I never gasp for air.) I felt like I was “red lining”.

I sucked down one packet of energy goo and then a second. Then a third one. And then two more after that. Based on my training and experience as a runner, running almost 6,000 miles in the last few years, I should have been blasting at my fastest road speed ever. My body was full of sugar, the temperature was perfect for running, and I had spent months preparing for this race.

None of it seemed to be working. I was fading quickly.

I slipped from first place to second  and then two runners pushed me back into fourth. Ten miles in I got pushed back further into fifth place. As if to add insult to injury I got passed one more time at mile 23 — almost there, but still not fast enough.

So when I hit the finish line, I wasn’t thinking about how amazing the experience was. I was disappointed at how I ran the race. Frustrated. Angry. Sad. All in one. Even though there was nothing I could have done differently, I was disappointed.

Just miserable — to the point of tears.

You’ve been there. Whether it’s losing a business deal, experiencing the end of a valued relationship, or unexpectedly losing a job, a friend, or a bunch of money — disappointment is something that we all have to deal with.

Here are a few ways for you to feel a little bit better:

  1. Stop denying you’re in a funk. It happens to all of us, so it does no good to pretend like you’re different than anyone else. Especially when you are disappointed. Realizing the emotional state that you are in right now is the beginning of the healing process.  Don’t deny.  Cry.
  2. Keep moving your feet forward.  You have things to do.  So do them.  Look at your task list and see what you need to do. You don’t need to do the maximum, you just need to do the bare minimum. Despite how you’re feeling, the best way to take your mind off your situation is to do.
  3. Go ahead  and hit something (kinda).  Get angry. Physical activity is a great way to release the sadness and pent up frustration that you’re feeling right now. So go do something. Walk somewhere. Run somewhere. Hit something. Don’t leave your emotions to boil inside you. That just makes you weaker.
  4. Move on when it’s time to move on. You can’t (and shouldn’t) be disappointed forever. The faster you heal, the more time you have to focus on the best parts of life. So don’t dwell on the nasty side of personal experiences. When it’s time to let things go, let them go.

Life goes on. And so should you.

I’ll take a few days off from running and then get back into top fighting shape. I’m still upset that I didn’t win the day.

But I learned a bunch of lessons that will make me stronger, smarter, and more prepared for my next epic attempt at greatness.

I’ve never won a race. Never. I’ve placed in the “top ten” of every event I’ve ever attempted. I thought last Saturday would be my day to take top prize.

Regardless — I’ll get there soon enough. So will you.

It all comes down to trying more.

See you out there.

0 Replies to “What To Do When You Do Your Best And Still Lose.”

  1. I feel as if it is difficult to realize when the time to move on is. When should you? How do you deal with the emptiness of never completing your initial goal? Just like how you never won a race, you have only placed. I for one know that placing is not the ultimate goal of anyones dreams. We all want to win, but how do you know when to realize that winning should not be the ultimate goal?

    1. I can’t speak for anyone but myself. I will keep running until I win — and then I’ll keep running until I keep winning. 🙂

      You never give up. You never give in.

      You might need to change your priorities and supplement your time and income with other activities, BUT you never give up on your dream.

      The day you do is the day you start dying.


  2. Great post! I used to let myself get all flustered about when prospects fell through, it used to seriously play on my mind all the time. This wasn’t a problem with my career, I had experienced this in all the sales manager jobs I have ever had, until a couple of years ago when I took up cycling.

    That physical exertion and output of energy transformed my working life. I started doing events and racing with local cycling clubs, like you I have still never won a race but I feel the rush of anticipation and can almost feel the stress leaving my body everytime I go out on the bike.

    Sport really is a great stress reliever and a way to learn about how to deal with loss, whether it’s in a foot race, bike race or a potential sales. Like you so rightly say, life goes on.

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