Yesterday was again one of those eye opening events.
I was given the chance to participate in a Police Vehicle Operations course for Bicycle Patrol. I figured that it had been two weeks since my surgery and that I would be alright. For the first bit of it I was. However, slowly but surely I discovered three facts: my cardiovascular endurance is not good enough; my muscular endurance is not good enough; I pushed myself too hard too soon. Granted that having to sit on a bike seat with that kind of injury is bad enough. Not having the endurance to pull it off also did not help. I reached the 15km mark and was in excruciating pain and overall exhaustion.
I failed the course and limped away from it in agony. That agony was not only physical but mental as well. I push myself to my limits (or what I had perceived as my limits) all the time. In the gym I regularly lift weights that normally I have no business lifting. I love lifting and concentrate a lot on it. My cardio however….I do not. The mental pain of failure is rarely an option to me as I push myself until I succeed. On this day all of the dedication in the world simply was not enough.
In summary….I hate to fail.
However I have been able to limp away in pain and sadness not to wallow in self pity (though there was a bit of that…a little ashamed of that part) but to look at a few items and answer a few questions.
Why did I fail?
I failed because not only was I already injured, but because I have neglected endurance training over the years. My strength training is awesome but cardio wise? I suck.
What did I fail?
I failed a course based on training I have neglected and a skill I haven’t used in over 15 years. Riding a stationary bike in the gym is vastly different from riding an actual bike. Not making excuses but realistically those two factors played a massive role in this failure.
Who did I fail?
When I first got back to the office my thoughts were a little scattered and mostly negative. I failed my instructors who tried to get me through the course. I failed my team. I failed my unit. Most devastating though, I failed myself.
Then I looked at the situation a little more in depth. My instructors were disappointed sure but they made it known that given the circumstances they were impressed that I had even attempted. My team has been very supportive as well, and I am reminded that even though I’m not on a bike, I’m on a car still and I can respond a lot faster in a cruiser anyway! My unit spent time and money to send me, yes, but that money isn’t necessarily wasted because I will improve myself and get through the course at a later date.
Which brings me to myself. Did I fail myself yesterday? Yes. However I do not necessarily see it as a total failure. It pointed out some serious flaws I have and showed me that cardiovascular strength is just as if not more important than muscular strength. In my mind I have started a program to improve my cardio and lose the weight I need to (running while carrying 255lbs is significantly more difficult than running while carrying 200lbs). And while I may not have the chance to get on the bikes at work, that doesn’t mean that a) I never will or b) I can’t still improve myself on my own time.
Failure is very rarely permanent. Failure can be a very important teaching tool that you couldn’t have gotten without trying and not succeeding. It shows you where you were going wrong, where you can improve and just like everything else in my life, stokes a fire inside to improve, be better and succeed next time. Never treat failure as an end to a goal. Treat it as a tool, a wake up call to make yourself better. It’s not an end. More like a halfway point.
One of my team mates, Alex, sent me a message afterwards. He said “we all fall down. We all have bad days. It’s how you pick yourself up and move forward that counts.” Truly inspiring, supportive…and very wise. These words have been echoing in my mind all night and they have sank in. There is also a Japanese proverb that says “fall down seven times, stand up eight” which I interpret the same way. One more for the hell of it: “It’s not how hard you can hit, it’s how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” – Rocky Balboa.
It’s how you pick yourself up and move forward that counts. Words to live by, folks. Words to live by.