Why failure rocks.


As of today, 900 is the total number of burpees I have left to complete the 5K Burpee Challenge for March. This challenge has proved very difficult for me. Despite tweaking my approach each day and growing very efficient at the burpee exercise, my biggest hurdle has been setting aside the time to do them. In reality, I can do a couple hundred burpees in 25-minutes or less now. But, I’ve skipped a few days here and there that really dented my progress. To compound matters, I slipped and fell on my ass this past Sunday. Actually, I landed on my hand and banged my knee pretty hard. The knee still works, but my right wrist is still a bit sore. I managed to eek out 300 burpees last night, but with the ABF 10K Mud Run this Saturday, I don’t have a lot of room for another slip-up (pun intended)!

Close but no cigar

One thing I just won’t do is quit. I’m so close to completing the Challenge that, naturally, falling short would be a disappointment. But, whether or not I complete 5,000 burpees by March 31, the Challenge has been a great success. You see, I’ve learned to recognize that there is no shame in failing. In fact, failing at something is one of the most important things we can do to ultimately succeed…

Why failure rocks

Many people are good at what they do. But most people didn’t get good by being good all the time; instead, they likely failed several times along the way. You see, failure means that you tried something out-of-the-ordinary, outside your skill-set, or away from your comfort zone. If you failed at something, it means you tried something amazing and fell short. But that rocks!

In weight-lifting, “going to failure” means you perform as many repetitions of a given exercise with a given weight until you just can’t do anymore. In these terms, failure is a benchmark for putting forth an enormous amount of effort and skill in order to test your limits. Once you fail, you then have the opportunity to evaluate your journey, learn from your mistakes, and see how you can adapt or improve so that you can be even more epic the next time around. If you’re not failing, you’re likely not traveling too far out of your comfort zone. That’s when things get stale. It’s easy to “succeed” when you don’t challenge yourself. Given enough “success,” you might find that you are no longer moving forward, evolving, nor growing. Have you peaked or have you just started to deteriorate?

Do epic work!

Hybrid Athlete Joe Vennare likes to use two simple words to motivate: “Do work!” I’d like to add a third: “Do EPIC work!” Do epic work and you are bound to fail. Fail so that you can learn, grow, and reach new limits. If at first you DO succeed, try to FAIL again.

Special congrats and thanks to Steve R, John O, Travis B, Michael R, Jennifer D, Jeff H, Mark A, Leo M, Amanda L, Andrew G, Annie G, Shane W, and everyone else who tried, shared, or FAILED at the 5K Burpee Challenge! You know who and how awesome you are!

Next month’s challenge: 100 Ruckin’ Miles

Meet the Author

Mud Run Maniac
Mud Run Maniac

I'm the proud owner of MudRunManiac.com, specializing in mud run training and tips! The mud run community is growing fast and I’ve made it my responsibility to keep you up-to-date on the latest and greatest mud running topics.

3 comments… add one
  • Jeff H Mar 27, 2012, 5:18 pm

    Paul – Great write up. Couldn’t agree with you more. Failure sucks, but is has its rewards as long as you’re willing to not give up on yourself and learn from it.

    Last month I pushed for 7K pushups. I made it 5,200. I failed. But I got a little wiser because of it. I’m now within reach of 5K burpees for March. Because I failed I knew how many burpees I needed to do per day and how much suck I’d have to put in if I slacked off.

    A small goal for a big life lesson. Thanks for a great challenge and cheering us all along this month. I owe you a beer.

    • Mud Run Maniac Mud Run Maniac Mar 28, 2012, 9:23 am

      Thanks Jeff! I like what you say about not giving up on yourself and learning from your shortcomings. I think that’s the key. You won’t have regrets if you do all that you can to make something great or do something epic, even though all that you can might not be good enough. Life shouldn’t be a checklist of getting things done. It should be about how you get things done and how you can make them better.

      As far as the beer, I’m easy…a cold PBR will do just fine!

  • Annie Mar 30, 2012, 1:59 pm

    Awesome write up. Paul you’re still awesome whether you do 5k burpees or not! I couldn’t do the burpee challenge due to my knee, so I tried to do 10,000 sit ups (not crunches) this month. I came close (9000) but I will also fail this month. Its all good though. At least we tried, right?

    Hope your knee and hand gets better and kick ass tomorrow on the ABF 10K challenge!

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