Michele Gonzalez: Making Mistakes — And Learning From Them

All runners make mistakes, and taking a lesson from each one is important. Photo: Michele Gonzalez

There are countless ways to become a stronger runner—increasing or decreasing your mileage, incorporating more specific runs like tempos or intervals, adding doubles, cross-training or doing core work. Lots of variables with things to tweak over the years and no one-mold for everyone.

But one thing is the same—one of the best ways to become a better runner (and racer) is to learn from the mistakes you make. Now, of course you have to first make the mistake before you can learn from it (which can be painful …). But in the end, a mistake leaves a lasting impression and often is the best deterrent from doing it again.

Good judgment is the result of experience, experience is the result of bad judgment.” — Mark Twain

I’ve had my share of bad judgments during training and racing. Heck, sometimes I even had to make the same mistake twice before it finally set in.

I had two not-so stellar marathons (back-to-back) where I missed my time goals (by a lot). I was crushed and devastated. After months of early wakeups, even earlier bed times, sticking to a training plan and working hard, it’s easy to understand how a bad race could leave you feeling deflated.

After the second one, I took a step back and looked at the big picture. Yes, I didn’t run the time I was after. But there were loads of lessons learned that could be used in the future. Each race, each training cycle, each run is a lesson. It’s all part of the learning process that will one day play a part when you achieve your goal.

One of my favorite runners, Josh Cox, once told me something that I find replaying in my mind often after a bad workout or race. He said: You spend months training for a race. It’s all one big investment that you hope you can cash out on race day. Some days you get to cash out. Other days you don’t. But those races are just another big investment into your account that will allow you to make an even bigger withdrawal at your next race.

So race day may not be your day. But it can still be a great day if you use it as a learning point rather than the ending point.

For more on the Saucony 26 Strong program, which pairs up 13 coaches with 13 marathon rookies, visit 26Strong.com.

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