some thoughts on winning v. losing

i’m on the right in the first video. i won out of a 3 man break.

to me, there’s little difference between the feeling of winning and the feeling of losing. to be clear, not winning is not losing. they are very different.  i think of losing as that point in an event when it is clear what i set out to do is not what i am doing and my mind and body begin to shut down. not winning, on the other hand, i when i do everything i set out to do and it isn’t enough- i am simply out gunned. losing, to me, is awful. it is all i can think about, and what i did wrong and how i failed myself and anyone who came to support me or spectate.

recently, i read graeme obree’s autobiography. what an eye opening and at times inspirational story. but one thing was overwhelmingly clear: obree’s drive was not so much a goal he set for himself he must attain. it was a goal he set out for himself he must not fail. it was a fear of failing that drove him, not the desire for success. what can be more obvious to an athlete: winning/losing or achieving/failing.

is it possible to win and fail? i think so. i’ve won races where afterward all i could think about was how i could have done better, or differently or not done this or that. it’s an awful feeling to how a medal in your hand and know you didn’t deserve it, despite what the officials and loved ones say. i once got second at a huge multi-national event. i watched my competition and subsequent winner come by me, and i was powerless to stop him. i let myself down. i watched and in doing so, my mind and body shut down to the point of me almost walking to the finish. i knew i didn’t have what it took to win. after, i found a private spot and cried for half an hour. not at losing a race, but at failing myself and not answering yes, when i had asked myself if i wanted to succeed.

once, someone put it to me this way: they hated losing more than they loved winning. how true. winning isn’t everything, but failing is. and yes, failing can be marked by losing, but not always. in the end, i think it’s about personal effort. it’s drive- what pushes or pulls an athlete to want succeed or not fail. sometimes a goal is simply a means to an end, where the beginning is the act of rising and the end is knowing you’re just good enough to try again the next day.


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One Response to some thoughts on winning v. losing

  1. leah says:

    great entry, fergus. I think you captured what makes racing compelling (at least to me): the internal battle!

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