How endurance leads to marathon failure  - DOC

How endurance leads to marathon failure 

Today on the Doc On the Run Podcast, we’re talking about how endurance leads to marathon failure.

Endurance athletes are uniquely prone to self-sabotage. Ironically the destruction rises out of the very skill that lends us the strength to finish a race like a marathon. 

The uncertainty of running at a particular pace and distance we have never achieved forces us to come face-to-face with our own athletic insecurities. The mystique of the “wall” incites fear of failure. 

We learn suffering. We see messages on social media about “pain caves” and epic workouts, all designed to get us accustomed to suffering. We become better at enduring. We begin to believe that one must indeed, suffer daily and endure through pain in order to build the fortitude to survive on race day. 

But exercising the mental endurance muscle has a dark side. 

We start to think in black and white “no-pain, no-gain” terms. We become able to ignore pain. And the suffering of the last mile repeat grows into a suffering that lingers a lot longer than it should. 

We mistakenly start to believe that suffering, hurting, and just surviving our big training blocks will get us results. So we become prone to making small but crucial errors by not listening to our bodies. 

We endure our way to unreasonableness. 

Yesterday I was talking with my friend Chad. He is just wrapping up his training for the California International Marathon. Chad is ready. I know, and believe, maybe even more that he, that he is already a marathoner. He has put in all of the work in preparation and he has done everything needed to start and finish that race. 

Chad and I were talking about his training and about he his coach helped him, just by listening and being reasonable. A few weeks he was in big training block and he felt depleted. He knew something wasn’t right. He wasn’t injured, but he felt his energy waning. 

So he talked to coach and said, “I don’t really think I should do speed work this week.”

His coach said, “You’re right. Skip it.”

And just like magic, with only a couple days of rest, Chad was back and ready keep getting stronger.

The mistake in that exact scenario many of us make is we are overly judgmental and self-critical when we encounter that moment of depletion in training. We think it is supposed to feel bad. We think it supposed to hurt. We start believing difficulty is the same as enduring. 

Success comes from being strong. Healthy runners are fast runners. No one runs their marathon as fast as possible when injured.  No one gets a new PR with pneumonia.

In this moments when you wake up and feel like you are tired, you think about your workout scheduled for later that day, and you need a cup of coffee to even think  about it, you are getting clues of your inner depletion. 

If you feel depleted, a workout should be deleted. 

When you hit that last mile of your marathon, turn it on. Bask in deep suffering. Run hard, let your quads scream in pain. Suffer all the way through the finish chute. 

But, more importantly, make sure you aren’t suffering at the start. 


If you have a question that you would like answered as a future addition of the Doc On The Run Podcast, send it to me And then make sure you join me for the next edition of the Doc On The Run Podcast!