JUSTIN’S BLOG: Learning To Use Failure As A Catalyst

Penelope Cairns |

Winning RW Cover Search was only the start for Justin, but the 25-year-old realises that tough times are crucial for success in his lead up to Comrades.17265163_10154371896263365_9033548289848864018_n

On the contrary to what seems like the remainder of the world’s population, my 2016 was actually a great year. After experiencing massive successes in almost every possible facet of my life, I cruised into 2017 with my head held high.

That all changed somewhat for the first time in a while, I experienced something I had long forgotten: failure, disappointment and rejection.

After months of campaigning and living off false hope, I was turned down for a major competition that would have been the biggest highlight of my running career. I could delve into endless paragraphs of self-pity, bitterness and anger regarding this defeat. It was a very meaningful campaign to me, but I shall not bore you all with the sob-story.

In life we experience these defeats, these proverbial “low-points” and failures. Now, I was faced with two options: give up completely, or use the failure as motivation. I chose the latter. Channeling feelings of anger, frustration and disappointment into positive forward motion and using all the negativity as fuel for the proverbial fire burning within for success. The point being: use failure as a catalyst to propel you towards success!


The steps I took to get back on track:

Firstly, I have taken a three-week (so far) break from all social media. This enabled me to reconnect with those around me, life goes on without the superficial social media world that a lot of people tend to get sucked up in.

Secondly, I began religiously following a strict routine involving: 4am wake up, study until 06:30am, working a full day from 08:00am to 16:30pm, training when I arrived home, studying further before lights out. This process has been repeated day in and day out. I managed to achieve a marathon and half-marathon personal bests (by 11 minutes and seven minutes respectively) crossing the half marathon line with plenty to spare. By disconnecting from the realm of hyper-connectivity, I managed to re-align my priorities, regain my motivation and reignite my burning drive within. Overall, the past three weeks have allowed me to live my life and be myself.


There have been a few more injuries which were worked through, including posterior shin splints, by far the most painful to date! It was so severe, to the point where I did consider taking up another lower impact sport to avoid the constant injuries. But that would be classified as giving up – not something I am very familiar with at all. If there is one thing I am certain of, is that I have the ability to endure, to withstand hard times and to remain resilient.

If there is a lesson that a reader may take from this blog it is this: as cliché as this may sound, do not EVER give up. Don’t even let giving up become an option. There will be setbacks and failures, tough times and downright terrible times, but that is what makes it all worthwhile once the goal has been achieved. It would not be as satisfying if the path of least resistance was followed i.e. if it came easy!


But be prepared for the tough times, they are inevitable, in fact, they are crucial in any success story. You cannot appreciate the good, if it has never been bad. What comes easy won’t last, and what lasts won’t come easy. Learn how to channel negative emotions and events into motivation to propel you forwards and upwards.

Gravity tells us that what goes up must come down, but with running (especially in hilly races we all know!) what goes down must go back up! So learn to embrace the fall and the way down, you have to hit the bottom before you rise back to the top – stronger!

Missed Justin’s previous blog? Click here for more.

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