You will fail, probably (GR)

“You can’t accomplish anything without the possibility of failure.”

The majority of our workouts follow a similar format: complete a set of exercises as many times as you can before time is called. The time, exercises, and spice vary from week to week, but time is always the limiting factor. There is no completion of the workout, just a sense of knowing that you crushed it for 25-30 minutes. Today’s workout was different. The goal was to complete 40/30/20/10/1 burpees, push-ups, box jumps, mountain climbers, and dips with a hill repeat to seal each round. Every single person DNF’d. Are we proud of this? Fuck yea, we are. That was the goal: throw down a challenge, expect failure, and ask the tribe to rise up and prove us wrong; prove themselves wrong.

“At the Barkley, success is about over-reaching our abilities and living to tell about it. Sometimes success is getting our ass out alive.”

Every year around this time I spend a lot of time thinking about the Barkley Marathons, a 120ish mile ultramarathon in the backwoods of Tennessee. If you haven’t seen the documentary on Netflix, stop what you’re doing and watch it. The quirks of the race entry, Laz (the creator and race director) himself, and everything leading up to the race are interesting, but the real draw, for me, is the race itself. Since the first run in 1986, only 15 people (of over 1000) have finished all five loops. Many cannot finish three loops, known as the Fun Run. As Laz says, “For some people, to finish the Fun Run is the accomplishment of a lifetime. And for some of them to finish one loop is the achievement of a lifetime.” For those that get into the Barkley Marathons, it is almost certain that you will DNF. You will fail. And for those that manage to complete the course, there are no rewards/trophies/prizes. All that waits at the finish line is a handshake. And the next year, Laz makes the course just a little bit more difficult, attempting to be just on the edge of what is possible for a human being.

“I know the odds are against me, but I have to believe, who knows.”

This theme was the driving force in creating today’s workout. Yes, the stakes are much lower, we did not spend months or years training for this day and it wasn’t a 60 hour test of will. But, failure was imminent. We told the tribe that they wouldn’t finish and challenged them to prove us wrong. We challenged the tribe to create their own sense of success and failure because they would not finish. Each round was a little bit easier from a rep standpoint, but as the fatigue set in and the time ran out, the finish was always an arms-length away. Members pushed themselves past limits that they’d set for themselves. Everyone finished at least one round. Some finished a fun run. And Josh was seconds away from beginning the last hill repeat when time was called. As we looked around, even though no one finished, there was a sense of accomplishment.

“People have their own concepts of success and failure. A lot of them, by the time they’ve been through the ordeal, they are not concerned how other people evaluate their performance. They make their own judgments about success and failure.”

The workout is not impossible. We’ll likely do this challenge again (maybe making it a little bit harder each time) and eventually someone will complete all five rounds. But, that’s not really what’s important. Only when failure is imminent can we truly succeed. My favorite quote from this year’s Barkley is: “I don’t know that you can. But I don’t know that you can’t. And that’s the best that can be said of anyone at Barkley.” Each time we embark on a challenge that seems impossible, we learn a little bit about ourselves, and push our boundaries further than they were before. And this is what Wednesday mornings and November Project are really about, not limiting your potential, not holding back because you are afraid to fail. Whether we fail epically or succeed greatly, we’ll be here to support each other, learn from it, and set our sights further down the road.



3.29.18 – 6:00 PM – PR Day Social – Creston Brewery

4.18.18 – 6:01 AM  – Sunrise 6k – Lyon & Bostwick

4.22.18 – TBD – Gazelle Girl Cheer Station

4.27.18 – 6:30 PM –  Mitten Meetup Shakeout – Blue Bridge

4.28.18 – All Day – NP Hurts the Dirt – Luton Park

4.28.18 – 4:00 PM – Tacos and Beer: Hurt the Dirt After Party – City Built Brewing Co.

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