What Did I Learn From a Recent Failure
Few posts ago I mentioned about my 60 day pull up challenge. I started with 10 pull ups on Day One, adding a rep each day and aiming to finish with 70 reps on the last day. It’s a cool little challenge and definitely doable if you have a bit of a base on doing pull ups. I’ve done it in the past and the biggest obstacle always seemed to be to find the extra time to do it all.

Yet this time around I got a bit cocky as the reps felt rather easy in the beginning. The main difference to previously times being that I was careful how much weight I was putting on throughout the challenge. Smart move by me. But I digress, back to my failure. Around 40 days in I started to get a throbbing pain on my right shoulder. At first it wasn’t too bad. I tried to ease up the niggle by getting massages and by adding extra stability work. That would only bring short term release and wouldn’t last for long enough to give any long term relief.

I kept pushing through to Day 57 before sitting on the train one morning feeling like my whole right arm was on fire. I had failed to look after myself properly, obviously. I tried to get through the Day 58 but the pain was too great. I had to take a step back and think what was important at that point: finish the challenge, get the bragging rights and leave the room with five solid fist pumps in the air while at the same time risking the imminent and possibly serious injury to my right shoulder . Or quit and walk away with an injured ego and somewhat functioning right shoulder?


If someone would’ve come to me for advice in similar situation I would’ve told them to stop. No doubt. But the hardest advice to listen is your own. And as the saying goes, a coach coaching himself has an idiot as a coach. The only person I was letting down was myself, no one else. I wasn’t training for the Olympics or for any other event for that matter. There was absolutely no point to risk a bicep tear for the sake of doing three more days of pull ups. But, I could hear my ego telling me to keep going, to get it done no matter what. Just so I could say to people that I completed the challenge. Just so I could post it on Facebook or something else as vague…
I thought of all the blog posts I’ve written and all the advice I give to my clients. I figured that to stay true to my word I would have to do what I tell others to do. And that was to stop if ever there is pain. The risk of finishing was too great compared to benefit.

The Learning 

Sometimes there is a point when you have to push through and sacrifice health for the performance. But training for general health and fitness is not it. Otherwise it would be called unhealth and fitness.
Things are different when you compete for a sport. You’ve trained hard for years for your big event. You might have to risk everything to get to the podium. That’s probably worth it. But it’s not worth it when you are doing it for the ego or for the bragging rights or for the “likes” on Facebook. That’s called being an idiot. In those situations the only person that really cares is you. And if others care, you shouldn’t care that they care. And at that moment when you decide to quit it does suck, a lot. You might cry.  But it sucks more if you injure yourself and are forced to take an extended time off from training. Remember, it’s HEALTH and fitness.


This is not a permission to stop testing your limits. Always try to do better than before. Whether in training or life in general. Keep kicking goals. But every now and then take a step back and look at the whole picture. Sometimes the risk is not worth the reward.
So yes, I am pretty proud of myself. Few years ago I would have not stopped but rather risked an injury to have the bragging rights. Wiser it seems I’ve grown. That sentence makes sense when you read it with Yoda-voice.