Failure. On the surface, it's TERRIBLE! The emotion it stirs and self-doubt it can drum up throws you for a loop. You start questioning why you're even attempting what you're attempting. Why am I going back to school to get my Masters? Why do I deserve the job I just interviewed for? Why do I think I'm capable of completing an Ironman or PR-ing at my goal Olympic distance tri this summer?
STOP! Quiet those thoughts. It's ok to be disappointed for a little bit...let yourself gripe and complain because maybe you'll feel a bit better about it, but then you need to remember to hush up and keep going. Onward and upward. Dwelling on the negativity of a failure isn't going to get you anywhere, in fact, it's likely to take you down a peg. Instead focus on what you can learn from the failure and then ask yourself "what's next?"
I had to keep these things in mind earlier today when I totally bombed a powertest on the bike. I've recently been crushing it on the bike, hitting breakthroughs on a near weekly basis, but today was far from it. During my last powertest, I averaged 331 watts for 20 minutes, and this time I averaged just 315 watts. I started out perfectly, with the first 5 minutes averaging 327w, and then the wheels already started coming off. I struggled to hold even 320w for the next 5 minutes, then faded further to the high 200s, all the while holding a high HR of 180. I just felt like I couldn't turn my legs over even though I was working hard. A total disaster. I've recently done workouts at higher power outputs with my HR in the 160s. During the test, I started wondering "why?!? Am I just not trying hard enough?? Is there something wrong with my bike or the powermeter? Is there something wrong with me?" I tried to banish those thoughts from my mind because I had committed to a 20 minute all-out effort, and having those thoughts would do nothing but hurt my performance, regardless of the absolute number I ended up with. I finished the test and then tried to figure out what happened. My coach and I controlled for just about every factor that might have negatively influenced today's test. Three factors (that I can think of) remain:
1.) I might have ridden too hard on Saturday. I rode with a group from Mapso, a local tri club, and though I tucked in behind them for 98% of the ride, it was still an aggressively paced ride that may have sapped my legs for today's effort.
2.) The Computrainer may have been miscalibrated. This would be a bummer but I very rarely have calibration issues so I think it's unlikely.
3.) I might be in the early stages of being sick. I'm often hit with a surprise terrible workout that is a total mystery to me until two days later I wake up with congestion and a sore throat. "Oh, that's why!"
If #1 was to blame, that was totally my fault. I got wrapped up in the fun of riding with a solid group of cyclists and let myself go too hard. Lesson learned.
If #2 or #3 was to blame, then all I can do is let this one roll off my back and move on to the next. If I let the failure get to my head, then I'm letting a fake failure get to my head, and there's nothing worse than spoiling your confidence over a failure that didn't even happen, right?