It's Okay to Fail
Failure is okay and all just part of life progression....so why do we beat ourselves up about it? There is a lot of pressure on those with influence to never show failure or any sign of weakness yet ultimately we are all human – we all have those moments of joy and similarly those moments that we would rather not share with others through fear of judgement.
Through my own journey, I try and allow enough time to share my failures, as well as my successes. Through failure, we have evolved from cavemen to those with robotic limbs. After all, a failure is just an opportunity to improve, no?
This weekend, I ran the Brutal Run at Alice Holt Forest in Alton/Farnham. I stumbled upon an opportunity to complete the 10km trail run course and was very open to the chance. I turned up to the event completely unprepared – just two days earlier, I had broken my big toe (which one I hear you ask) and I had been fitted with a new socket from Blatchford, which I was still acclimatising to. I had just come round from my chest infection recovery but otherwise I was rearing to go!
The event was a Men’s only trail run (with women running in the morning) through thick forests and watery tracks. With 2x 5km laps, it was strange to be at an event where I do not know anyone. Having said that, it was nice to have the opportunity to run at my own pace and concentrate on my own performance.
As we started, I felt fine and the tracks were very open with nice, firm ground. ½km in, the tracks started to narrow significantly as we entered the thick forest. We hit a bottleneck as we were directed down a muddy stream – this is when it started to get really tough.
My Blade XT is fantastic on all types of terrain as the heel component allows you to balance on both small and large surface areas. Having said that, you still encounter a lot of the problems that any prosthetic leg has. Without feeling in your prosthetic foot, you can easily get stuck in the mud or trip over without any pre-warning. Furthermore, with a literal hook on the end of your leg, it’s like a magnet for long twigs and the killer….tree roots.
Tree roots are the vein of my life and are horrible to run around however generally, they are manageable by looking ahead and anticipating your moves beforehand. Within this run, the tree roots were hidden under 3ft + muddy water so I found myself constantly falling over and further injuring my broken toe.
Just 3km in, I was dreading the next 7m. I was unable to run because of the tree root and small track situation so I was forced to walk, putting more pressure on my toe. I’ve never been a quitter but I did question my motives for the race. I was given the opportunity so I took it. What was I trying to prove -the fact that I was able to run a 10km? It seemed silly to me as the terrain and my physical situation meant that I was unable to run.
I have always jumped in for any challenge feet (foot) first but at the 4km point, we hit some pretty steep hills. The hills just continued to go up and down to add distance to the course and it was at that point that I decided I would only complete the 5km race.
The hills were too steep to run down and with my toe, it was almost impossible. It was no longer a physical challenge – I felt as though it was a challenge for me to see whether I would quit. - was I able to take the harder decision to quit and put aside my pride to listen to my body and my mind? The answer was yes.
I pulled out of the race at the 5km point and ran through the finish gate initially quite upset that I hadn’t pushed through. Upset that I didn’t feel as though I had the opportunity to run, given the terrain, water, hills and my toe. I felt like my disability was a large factor to my failure, an excuse I had never accepted before.
Upon reflection, although others may see this as a failure, I listened to my body, I listened to my mind and more importantly I put aside my pride to do what was right for me. I accepted my medal (which was the same for the 5km as the 10km) and felt proud of my own personal development. We are often so focused on succeeding that we forget we only get there by persevering, listening to our bodies and mind and most importantly, failing.