A Savvy Loser

“It pays to be a winner,” right? I mean, I’m not sure anyone would willingly choose defeat over victory, but maybe there is some real value in getting beat. Winning feels incredible and it’s often the goal. What then, if anything, is in it for us when we lose?

I’ll never forget how things played out for my best friend and I growing up. We were both 6th grade classmates with nothing to do on a Saturday at my house. Lord knows where the idea came from, but I challenged my buddy a good ole fashioned race around the block. Mind you, we never did ANYTHING like this. Ever. No races. No running. Heck, we didn’t even like running.

Meeker pulling heavy.

My idea for the race came out of boredom, and I wanted to win. We just as well could have played H.O.R.S.E. or Go Fish. I just wanted to compete and so did he. So we settled on the footrace around the block. Suddenly, this race meant a lot to both of us.

Race time came within the hour of the ideas inception and the intital trash talking. I called out “On your marks, get set, GO!” and we took off and we stayed neck and neck on this makeshift course that would total about a mile in distance. Since he didn’t know how long the loop was I led a pace that neither of us could really maintain. The winner would be whomever didn’t quit first.

About half way through, he fell behind and quit shortly there after. With this in mind, I slowed to a comfortable pace, jogged home to secure victory, and I waited for him to return.

He never came back, and I later found out he walked straight home instead. We never really talked about that race except for a few competitive bragging points the next day, but we remained close friends until today.

What I didn’t know then that I only learned later through hindsight was that something happened inside my friend that day. His loss meant something to him. He got competitive, put himself on the line, and was defeated. His response, however, was a surge in motivation.

He took on cross country and he got good– really, really good. He later competed on varsity as a freshman  in high school and became an elite level runner. His performance as a runner got him numerous accolades, and it even sent him to college! His mindset wasn’t one of bitterness, however. He wasn’t out to validate himself or get revenge. He was driven to succeed.

Now, I’m not here to take credit for an impressive career in running from the guy, but it does put an interesting spin on defeat. Some folks bounce around like a pinball from failure to failure, swearing off bad experiences forever. Unfortunately, running from failure to find success is a flawed strategy. Others, however, become great because they know how to experience defeat. They use it. Their positive spin on defeat moves them along.

What impact does defeat have on you?

Logan Gelbrich

Saturday’s Workout:

5 rounds resting as needed between rounds:
2 Deadlifts
1 Hang Power Clean
2 Front Squats
**All movements are consecutive. Athletes must touch and go. No dropping. No regrouping.


6x 200m Run

*Rest 1 minute between efforts

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