When Failure is Progress


I was riding some Maximum Aerobic Power (MAP) intervals the other day. These suckers are hard, executed around 110% to 112% of Functional Threshold Power (FTP).

The intervals were 3mins each. The first two were super hard. 9/10 Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) hard. But I got through them.

My third one wasn’t so pretty. At 2mins my legs were hitting the wall. Technicolor EXPLOSIONS!

My thoughts went to Jens Voigt’s mantra, “Shut up legs!”

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But my legs became insolent little bastards, covered their ears and gave up.

9/10 had become 10/10.

I failed


And that’s okay.

My legs slowly rotated the pedals. My head dropped low.

And I remembered sometimes intervals should do this to you.

If you can’t get through the first one, well, that shouldn’t happen. The power you’re targeting is too high.

But you should be able to complete at least 2, and hopefully 3. Then you know the power is almost right.

Did you struggle through the 3rd one?

Then try a 4th effort about 5 watts lower, or an RPE of 7 instead of 8. After that, call it a day. Ride easy back home.

And if that still won’t work, make a note for next time. You aren’t ready for that effort level at all. Next time you better begin the first interval at a lower level right from the start.

And keep trying to fail.

We need to fail to know we’re pressing on the edges of our abilities. Stretch the limit, don’t stay completely within it.

And if you're ticking off all your intervals in a row? Think about pressing into the very last one a little harder. Try to fail.

Through failing you will grow.

No need to panic or beat yourself up about it.