Stephanie Lowe at The Final Sprint wrote a nice post about Josh McDougal, the winner of last fall's NCAA Cross Country Championships. He included an excerpt from his journal of two years ago when he was experiencing some notable frustrations in his running:
"Looking back over the “learning experiences” I have had in my life, I am stunned to find that success was never (at least at the time) associated with the results or outcome. It was in these moments of “failure” that I have learned the most, these moments of failure that strip away all traces of my foolish pride, and lay bare my true self. It is in these painful moments of candidness that I see myself for who I truly am, and not for who I truly think myself to be. Contrarily, it is in these moments of “success” that I see myself for who I truly think myself to be, and not for who I truly am. Which leads me to question: Which is the true success? Which is the true failure? Though I may succeed in the eyes of the public I fail to see who I truly am, and in fact only reinforce a false image of myself. Whereas, when I fail in the eyes of the public, I get a true glimpse of who I really am. Which I now come to see is worth so much more, for then I can get a gauge of who I truly am, and some degree of learning takes place, which is not the case with my successes."
One of the hardest lessons to learn for all young runners is that it's okay to fail. Of course, many of us are forced to learn that lesson early on! The key, of course, is that learning takes place, as McDougal points out. That is how failure on paper is turned into success in the future.
As Alan Webb is no doubt going through this right now after his Carlsbad disappointment, I hope he is able to learn as much from his experiences as McDougal was able to learn from his.
Looking ahead to the Olympic Trials 10,000 meters, I think McDougal will most certainly be a threat to displace one of the old guard (Meb Keflezighi, Abdi Abdirahman, Alan Culpepper, Dan Browne) and make the team.