February 6, 2012
Learning From My Mistakes
I ran my second half marathon yesterday and based on my training, expected to come in at 2 hours and beat my first race time of 2:06. Training times supported this expectation as two weeks prior to the race, I ran 12.6 miles at a 9:09 pace. Reality didn’t match expectations and not only did I not reach my 2 hour goal, but I exceeded by first race time by 2 minutes. It was a very disappointing experience and one I don’t intend to repeat in my next races. Rather than looking at the experience as a complete failure (I held a personal pity party yesterday), I am choosing to learn from it. The success here was that I finished despite having to run and walk the last 5 miles of the race. What I learned was the following:
- Do not train beyond 10 miles prior to the race (I peaked too early)
- Do not play soccer the Thursday before the race (my legs were tired)
- Do not participate in any quad workout the week prior to the race (I had a softball coaching clinic with lots of knee bends the day before)
- Keep the mileage up until a week before the race, then taper (I tapered too early)
- Set my own pace and go with what is comfortable for me on that day, at that time
- Running a race alone is tough for me and requires super mental toughness that I need to train for
This is all valuable information and information I, personally, could only gain from failure. Other experienced runners provided me with some guidance that I ignored thinking it wouldn’t apply to me as a seasoned athlete. I may be a seasoned athlete but I am not a seasoned runner.
What is relevant here is that I made some fairly sizable tactical errors, still completed the race, and I plan to learn from the errors.
The same holds true with any projects I manage in that the results of a decision or series of decisions may not be as expected. The first goal is to recover from the errors and the second goal is to learn from the mistakes. I am constantly looking for ways to learn from previous experiences to improve processes and make things more efficient even if it was a total success. Actually, I apply this to all aspects of my life as accepting mediocrity and the status quo is not acceptable.
No project ever goes according to plan. Assumptions change. Resources change. Expectations change. Situations change. There will be mistakes, some more costly than others. The important thing is to learn from the mistakes and apply the newfound wisdom to the next situation so as to avoid a disappointing repeat performance.