How To Define Success As A Runner

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maxATPHow to define success as a runner

Winston Churchill said something long ago that has been on my mind for the past week that I wanted to write about.

It has to do with how runners define success.

I think often times we get caught up in placing well, running fast times and justifying our performances but it is this one thing that Churchill said that is so powerful that I had to share it here at

How many times have you failed?

Have you sat back after spending weeks and months preparing for a race only to fall short of what you wanted?

How did you feel?

What words were you using in your head after those performances?

Were your kind to yourself or belittling yourself for not hitting your goal or quite possibly feeling down that someone else achieved what you may have wanted?

This is normal but sometimes the best medicine is for someone to remind us that if we can continue to have that fire in our gut, even when things don’t go as planned and not lose the enthusiasm we have, it can make a world of difference in the long-term.

It could be the difference between you achieving your long term goal or someone else achieving it while you look back years later and live with the regret that you let one bad race or series of races get the best of you.

Don’t do it!

stay hungry stay foolishLessons in Failure

I ran my first race in nearly two years at the 2013 Monumental Indianapolis Half-Marathon this month.

It wasn’t pretty, it may have been an epic fail for me but I remembered Churchill’s quote and it was like a light bulb going off in my head.

Don’t lose your enthusiasm.

This is a step in the right direction and your patience has to be higher now more than ever.

This is not the time to quit.

I finished in 1.14.12 and had to stop three times fighting with decision to DNF or finish the race, no matter how ugly the result.

I went out the first mile in 4.59 and totally blew up.

Epic fail and I learned a lot.

A week later I drove to Goodlettsville, Tennessee to compete in the Team Nasvhille 10-Miler and again threw myself back into the arena whether good or bad.

I finished in 2nd place with a time of 56.11 over a hilly course and got destroyed in the process.

The winner ran 50.59 and clearly was in better anaerobic shape.

On October 20th I did the second fastest 20-mile long run in training that I have ever done finishing in 1.50.43.

I have included my splits:

5.25, 5.34,5.37,5.29,5.28,5.25,5.24,5.24,5.22,5.14 (54.28)

5.30,,5.34,5.25,5.43,5.53,5.54,6.02,6.00 (56.15)

I gave Lisa Rainsberger a call and told her about how my long runs were going and the recent races and this was her response as after having done this I wasn’t totally pleased with my half or 10-mile races.

A Boston Marathon Champion’s answer

Remember when you ran 2.19 for the marathon it wasn’t just the harder long runs but all the workouts we were doing that were well under the pace you wanted to run for the marathon distance. The harder long runs were an extension of those workouts but you didn’t run 2.19 just because you ran your long runs at 5.45 mile pace. It was the mile repeats at 4.45, the hard hill repeats, the long tempo runs at 5.10 pace.

I have gotten really good the past few weeks at running workouts at 5.25-6:00 pace but have not spent enough time at 5.05 or under mile pace.

I have made mistakes that I can easily correct leading into 2014.

The real reason

Why am I sharing this? One, this site isn’t about talking about how fast I have run in the past or how fast I want to run in the future.

It is about helping other runners and helping you to keep things in perspective and not to focus only on the event.

It is the process that counts and no one promised us perfect workouts, races or weather.

I wanted to share my experience to let you know that all runners have setbacks.

It took me 10 months of training to break 2.20 for the marathon and I had never taken more than a couple weeks off in my entire career.

I had to take nearly a year and half away from racing due to a deployment to Afghanistan so this isn’t easy reporting these results but at the same time I hope it helps someone, possibly you, in your own journey.

Our mindset is everything and I want you to maintain enthusiasm throughout your training block.

This site is about learning from failures, discussing ways ahead and how to help other athletes too.

It surely is not to gloat.

I got my ass handed to me in these past two races but at the same time I ran times that many runners would love to run.

There are people out there who don’t have the luxuries we have to get out there and compete yet we sometimes fill sorry for ourselves and totally forget how fortunate we really are.

Focus on long term

One of the greatest lessons I have learned from the Kenyans is they don’t let a bad race get the best of them.

They fail, they get dropped in workouts but they keep coming back, keep training hard until they get to the level of fitness they seek.

I watched an elite Kenyan drop out at mile 3 at the Monumental Indianapolis Half-Marathon earlier this month in my race, mile 3!

The Kenyans have off days too.

It is a lesson all runners, regardless of ability level, should remind themselves of.

I had total disasters at both the half-marathon and full marathon distances before I ran 1.07.06 and 2.19.35.

Let’s be honest.

No need to let up

Missing our goals sucks but most of us are too stubborn, enjoy the sport too much and realize that true success is giving it our best shot with the fitness we have.

If we miss the target we simply continue to train, adjust course and work on the weaknesses.

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2 thoughts on “How To Define Success As A Runner

  1. Nate,
    Great article (as always) and so true. I agree, the mindset is everything. This is the one site that I keep coming back for more. You truly do inspire.
    Just wanted to say thanks. I appreciate you being out there.

  2. Hi Brian. Thanks for the message. Yes, mindset really is important. You have to have an immunity to feeling sorry for yourself or wanting results too quickly. The work has to be done and sometimes for much longer than we want to get what we are seeking. Persistence is everything

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