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How To Learn From Your Racing Failures

daren 5k best time sydney olympic park

If you want to reframe racing failures as lessons learned then you should listen to this episode.

Some endurance athletes say “failure is not an option”. If you’ve ever attempted to do a race or event that was slightly ambitious, I would argue that failure is an option. In my head, I’ve redefined failure to mean all of the ways to not do something. Or in other words “lessons learned”.

Every mistake, misstep and failing moment is a stride towards triumph.

In this episode, I’ll show you a few race lessons I learned that will help you crush your next running or endurance event.

I’m bringing in a previous guest and endurance sports enthusiast – J Mike Remy or as he calls himself now “Remy B Reel”. He will help me highlight some really interesting findings around my last few races. We did a live video event on his series “Adjust Adapt Achieve” a short time ago and I thought it would be cool to chop up the audio and re-hash it in a dynamic way that helps tell this story better.

Read my actual 5k Race Recap here

The 5 key takeaways from my (AAA) convo with Remy were;

Takeaway 1 – Reframing running my fastest 5k time to my best 5k

Here I talk about the spectrum of what you have to work with. This spectrum is similar to the cards you’re dealt or the crayon box colors you got. You just gotta work with what you have. Here’s more on that.

Takeaway 2 – The Twenty 1% changes

Here I go deep on the nitty-gritty of the 1% changes and upgrades that I did months, weeks, and days before my race. Nutrition, sauna, dynamic warmup/drils/plyos, etc.

Takeaway 3 – Addition and subtraction

I know that sounds like word salad but stay with me on this.

When you take things away you strip things down to its core. I call this essentialism.

My maximal brain tries to live a minimal life, so this was my take on it but through the lens of racing

Takeaway 4 – Use Data – Then ignore it and trust the process

Using data, trusting it, but at the end of the day listening to your body because sometimes the data you give the algorithms is wrong. That’s why coaches are important.

The human touch is necessary with all machines, algorithms, data and formulas.

Without the human, it’s just data. with the human and the data/tech you become superhuman.

Takeaway 5 – Running Virtuous Cycle

This is my fun take on creating a model, frame and lens that can help us see things better in our training and specifically running.



  • “Using data, trusting it But at the end of the day, listening to your own body.”
  • “If you’re injury-free you can run more. If you run more you get faster.”

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Download PDF Here – Transcription is 90% accurate. Apologies for any and all errors

Daren: [00:01:58] I’ll quote, James clear modified quote, your success comes from how you handle failure. If you deal well and you persist, you have a high chance of being successful. Unquote. I’m bringing in a previous guest and adorn sport enthusiast, Jay Mike Remy, or as he calls himself now, Remy be real.

He helped me highlight some really interesting findings around my last few races. 

We did a live event a short time ago, and I thought it would be cool to chop up the audio and rehash it in a dynamic way that helps tell the story better. 

So let’s rewind back to May, 2021. I ran my fastest 5k ever with a time of 16:47 minutes.

This is an almost three minute or 15% drop in time from running my first 5k almost 20 years ago. In that same race. I had no concept of pacing. I literally passed out at the finish line and slept for 10 minutes. Yes, I slept. I woke up and proceeded to have a horrendous migraine headache that lasted all day.

I had what I just found out in the last few years- exercise induced hyperglycemia. Yeah. It took me 17 years to figure that out. Yeah. Basically my blood sugar levels dropped after a hard effort, similar to a diabetic, even though I don’t have diabetes and I’m not pre-diabetic from what I know, this also happened after every 800 meter race back when I raced at college slash uni. 

It was weird and no trainer knew what to do with me.

I should’ve saw a doctor back then, but I was being a lazy 22 year old. And luckily, I only raced a couple more times after that caused me to pass out like that. And I didn’t end up killing myself. 

To say my fitness and health. And my early twenties was weak compared to now is a gross understatement.

This new best time would have not happened if I didn’t totally mess up over the last 20 years of training and racing. And in particular, a 5k race, I did eight months ago. Totally botched that one. 

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In that time trial, I did multiple things wrong. That lets one of my slower race times of the last few years. 

So the five key takeaways from the Convolt with Remy were; One reframing my mindset around running my fastest 5k time to running my best 5k time. Two – the 20 different 1% changes or roughly twenty. Three – addition and subtraction. Four – Using data, ignoring it and then trusting the process. And five the running virtuous cycle.

Yeah. Let’s get into it. 

So take away one reframing, running my fastest 5k time to running my best 5k time. Here. I talk about the spectrum of what you have to work with. Think of a spectrum, similar to the cards that you’re dealt and the hand that you play, or the crayon box colors that you get. You just got to work with what you have.

Here’s more than that. 

Remy: [00:04:35] Tell us about it, man. Why the 5k? 

Daren: [00:04:38] So after talking to marathon Marcus, I ended up rephrasing my whole, I was like, yo, I’m gonna run my fastest 5k. He started talking about his stuff and he was like, I’m trying to run my best marathon. And then I was like, yo, what do you mean? I did that about two podcasts ago.

If you want to go check that out. DLakeCreates.com or you could just Google it Dlake Creates sorry. Searching on any podcast player. Do you like crates? Marathon Marcus. But what I took from that. If you just focus on whatever you have that day and you, that’s your spectrum, that’s your bar, that’s your bad to good.

So if it’s raining and it’s cold and it’s windy you’re not going to probably run your best time, but you could run, sorry, your fastest time, but you could run your best time that day. So life happens, as you say, you’re constantly, it’s a roller coaster up and down. Why not think about it as running my best and the time might be, my best time right now, 1647.

So that might be my best ever. It might be 1559. It might be 1630, who knows, but I’m gonna definitely make sure that I do the best I can with what I have. So if I’m injured, I’m going to try to be my best, that injury period, or if I’m tired if I’m feeling good, it’s a more open way to frame training and life and racing.

And it gives you a bit more slack when again, it’s windy and cold and raining, and you can decide to step up to that marathon. And, your kid was sick or, whatever happened. It’s yo just do your best that day. And if doing half of it as your best, then you did your best. And that’s obviously super subjective.

It’s not a, I’ve got to go on the flip side. It’s not permission. To just do half ass work. You still got 

Remy: [00:06:09] to push, but here’s the great thing about that. Is it’s a more honest effort because I see a lot of folks will approach and that’s no knock for anybody who does we’ll approach an event with a specific goal time in mind and work backwards from there.

And sometimes that goal time. Is not what you can get that day or that training block instead. What is within your limits? What do you actually have? And you can maybe for another, minute, two minutes, maybe it’s just 30 seconds on that day and that event. But if you’re just hard set on, I need a sub three and nothing else we’ll do.

You can 

Daren: [00:06:51] have a great day and come in at 3 0 5. Celebrate that. Yeah. Yeah. And you set yourself up with that expectation and it’s just you feel like a failure. If you just look at the metric and the number, and there’s so much more to it as amateur. Then just the numbers take away to the multiple 1% changes.

Here I go deep on the nitty-gritty of the 1% changes and upgrades that I did months, weeks and days before my race, nutrition, sauna, dynamic, warmup, drills, plyometrics, sleep, et cetera, all played a part in that. So 2020 was obviously COVID it wasn’t that bad here. I kept training through it. I was fine. I’m here in Australia, Sydney.

I had my slowest time. I ran, I did a time trial in July. Pre-season Tom trial, 1745. I ran. I was like, yeah, I’m feeling good. Hey, I was on the track, everyone was, it was the first like proper event of Sydney. Everyone was all hyped, like post, after COVID July, 2020 and opened up. And had some breakthrough workouts, I was like really sorting out 1% in 20 different variables.

My training volume was at an all time high. I was like, I was hitting a hundred K weeks, which is 60 running weeks. A lot of aerobic base, a lot of people like, yo, why are you running so much for 5k? You’re training for a marathon. And I’m like, nah, I’m actually trying to get my road base.

That’s my weakness. My, my genetics. As we were talking about before I have more speed, I have more of the the threshold type work, the anaerobic, you’re not getting 400, 800 repeats. I can smash those out real fast, but you get me into the mile, repeats the one K two mile repeats, it’s that black till starts building, sorry.

Lactate starts building up. And my sister. And it slows me down. Everything starts feeling heavy. So I was like, I need to build up my aerobic system first and then I need to work on certain areas. So all that was going well, three times in the gym, heavier sets, less reps, five by five. Oh, you are lifting a lot of plyometrics, the metrics, all my form shows, getting economy.

And I had my slowest time. Ever three months later, yo Mike, sorry, not missile was time ever. It was, I had the exact same time that I ran in July that I ran into him. I was like, hold up. But that race was horrendous and I learned a lot of how to race. So that’s kinda what we’re going to at the end.

And racing is a whole nother beast man. Like one thing I found is that you can do all the training, but you have to show up 

Remy: [00:09:16] and it’s a lot of pressure on that day. That’s the thing. It all has to come together. Holistically, 

Daren: [00:09:22] everything just 

Remy: [00:09:23] needs to snap into place. So that’s like this oversight of just showing up and giving it the go.

And I feel that 

Daren: [00:09:31] if it happens 

Remy: [00:09:34] frequently enough, without people setting an intention and recognizing everything that went well around it to have a good race day so that when you have a suboptimal race, you forget how lucky you were in how close you were to having a bad day 

Daren: [00:09:52] on all those times that it went, right?

No, it’s it’s a, 

Remy: [00:09:56] it’s a tricky balance to get together. So you’re talking about these tweaks and everything was happening. Let’s get into a little bit more of that because I’m seeing some of the. 

Daren: [00:10:09] Over the last couple 

Remy: [00:10:10] of months, some of the products, some of the, your nutrition getting dialed in.

I see you playing with some cordyceps. I see some beet juice you’ve been on this war juice or juice 

Daren: [00:10:23] or juice? Yeah, man. So yeah, we can talk about nutrition. So I, sauna, there was some sauna stuff that happened that I went deep in. So basically I realized, there’s this science behind this that if you can improve 1% better.

10 20 different variables that really starts to compound and in ways, and especially around race day, because my race day routine was trash up until probably three years ago. And it was basically show up and just do whatever, cause what I, what happened, it’s not that serious. You back in, college uni, as they say here in Australia, I just, I think I had a couple of beers before, before a track meet, like the night before a track meet, it was like, whatever, I’m 20, I’m good.

I ain’t gonna get drunk. So it’s just one of those things where I decided to do some research, see what’s actually happening in the world of sports science and exercise science. And start to apply that to myself and be like, where we at? So Remy right now is showing a video of me doing some warmups.

So my warmups are just basically. Stretches and, light plyometrics which runs me through the full range of motion. And that’s my little son, he just comes in and right before the race, this is before my 5k in may. I know you guys on Instagram, can’t see this and apologies one day, we’ll be able to do it across lake doing some pushups woman, the whole body, but yet oh, warm up right here.

That’s something that, yeah. I do religiously before every key workout. Tuesday, Thursday, sometimes Saturday and Sunday, all my key workouts always do a proper run through of a warmup two to five minutes and, beet root juice combined with quarter set mushrooms combined. Tart cherry juice, some BCAs thrown in there.

That’s all he’s on it. Yeah, he’s got my whole race. It’s a lot of processed foods. So if you’re into raw, you might not be into this, but at the same time, I optimize for performance. I don’t optimize for eating raw. Unfortunately, raw foods, take a while for your body to digest processed foods, go straight and get absorbed and used for energy.

Yeah, there’s a lot of process Maltz detection in their rice milk. Sorry, raw food eaters. This works for me. It might not work for you, but this is legit science. And I know it works for me. That caffeine gel, I don’t drink a lot of caffeine only on race day and specific workout when it hits, 

Remy: [00:12:33] especially, just reading on making sure, when you’re tapering specifically, when you’re tapering cut the caffeine.

Daren: [00:12:41] I got something on that. That’s old science, there’s new, there’s some new science. Yeah. New science that it actually doesn’t affect you. And it actually can hurt you because you’ll end up being quite groggy cause you go through withdrawal. So the whole, the old thinking was cut it out a week before.

So it really hits the day of the race. But if you have two, three cups of coffee or whatever, you, however you get your caffeine, doesn’t matter how you get to caffeine, tea, soda, whatever you want to get your caffeine. Who drinks soda, if you’re a real endurance athlete jokes, but it’s a trigger on a whole, I know unpopular opinion, but if, but it doesn’t matter, sorry, the caffeine doesn’t matter.

So all your coffee drinkers, you can keep drinking your coffee. I’m not a coffee drinker, caffeine. Excuse my language fucks me up. Like I’m like, did it. I’m already hyper dude. Like I never did Coke, back when I was in a club DJ and I was like, I got enough energy. I just I’m high on flight.

I don’t need this. So caffeine.  I don’t sleep well that night. Like I’m like, but it does work. So a couple times a year I’ll take that caffeine and you need quite a lot. It’s 180. 50 milligrams is when it actually kicks in. That’s like in here in Australia, that’s two, two cups of coffee. Yo I’m done performance enhancer, I’m done at 50 50 is when I’m like, okay. A hundred I’m shaking, 150, like I might actually pass out. So I kind of teed around the a hundred, hundred and 20 milligram mark. And the only reason why I know that is the actual the gel, the caffeine gel that I have, I take about 60 to 70%. I tried a hundred percent and I legit, almost thought I was going to die.

And I was like, all right, let’s back that down. I know that if it’s too little, it actually doesn’t work. So you got to hit that. But I’d say that I did sauna. Sauna 20 minutes, 20, 25 minutes, hot sauna. I was getting up to about 180 degrees Fahrenheit, about 85 degrees Celsius for 20, 25 minutes after you got to do it after a workout, preferably a hard workout.

So you want to go in dehydrated and you go in the sauna. Don’t drink anything, come out, do a cold shower. Yip. Shit is real. Like you, after a hard workout, doing the sauna for six to seven days. You do that 12 days before I noticed it’s all craziness. I’ll try to put that in some sort of a blog or something real soon, but that on top of the war shoes for six days before, get some sleep with the plyometrics.

And that’s the 

Remy: [00:15:02] thing about the sleep is you need that all week long. There’s too much importance getting back to putting too much pressure on race day. If you’re just trying to sleep the night before two nights out, but you’ve been sleeping like trash. Speaking to myself here for the last two 

Daren: [00:15:19] weeks you’re 

Remy: [00:15:20] really doing yourself a disservice and Luis again looking at the warmups, a lot of folks will just show up now, Louis is doing great on his own, right.

But if you’re not doing, if you just show 

Daren: [00:15:34] him. 

Remy: [00:15:35] Cold and going out there and giving it what you got. Think how much better, you would be once the engines warmed up, the oil’s 

Daren: [00:15:42] all lubricated and everything’s loose, 

Remy: [00:15:43] ready to fire, man. So you gotta go in on man. That’s a hell of a routine that’s led you up to them.


Daren: [00:15:57] episode was brought to you by me, DLA coaching. We show you as you get older, how to perform better in health, fitness, wellness, and during sports and life, we’re all getting older. So rather than being like most humans on the earth and decline. Why not be better, stronger, smarter, faster, and more wise than the 10 years ago.

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And back to the show,

take away three addition and subtraction. I know that sounds like a bunch of words, but stay with me on this. When you take things away, you strip them down to it. I call that essential ism. My maximal brain tries to live a minimal life. So this was my take on that. But through the lens of racing, were 

Remy: [00:17:01] there any changes in the schedule?

Was there anything that you stopped doing? Anything that yeah. Go for it? What did you cut out? Addition by subtraction? 

Daren: [00:17:12] Yeah, I like that. I like that great question. So I ended up talking with Mike tree, shout out@run.energy on Instagram. This dude is a beast. He’s a coach run coach. He’s an ex pro triathlete.

I did a podcast with him and he gave me some side information. I ended up cutting out of the podcast cause I was like, yo, can you help me with this? I’m struggling with this one thing. And I got some free coaching advice room and he just kept, he didn’t share that with the people I’m going to, I’m going to, it’s going to be a section called Reiki right now.

Yeah. So I was like, yo. I’m trying to run 1559 5k. This is what I’m doing. I think I hit my genetic limit, I don’t think. And he was like, he’s based on all that, what you told me and I told him my whole history, it was really quick, like for him to give me any advice based on, a quick two minute summary of what I do, it was quite ambitious, but he did it and he goes, he’s so six weeks out from your, a race.

He’s cause I was like, oh, I think I’m doing too much. Should I like take one of these? He goes, you’re not doing enough. What? Oh, and he’s yeah, he’s six weeks out, four to six weeks out. You need to ramp it up. And he’s like at a fourth quality day. And I was like, really? And he goes, so what you need to be doing is three three K type efforts.

So really fast, short stuff, 5k efforts, and then 10 K efforts. And that means like longer duration stuff. And he was like, once you do that and you spread that over the week, and then you have your long run and he was like your long run, you’re going to lose. Because I was still running about two hour long runs and he’s and you should.

Have your threshold work, your lactic threshold, where in your long run, have your long run be easy. And he’s and then separate that from. And I was like, huh? And I’m like, you know what? I did read that somewhere. And I’ll listen to you. I haven’t done this. So I, that was a huge change for me.

And it was four weeks out. I decided to do it. I was like six. I wasn’t, I was being a bit cautious. I don’t want to blow my body up before the race. I hadn’t done this before. And he’s four weeks. You should see a gain. He’s six weeks is optimal, but you’ll see something at four he’s three weeks.

I wouldn’t do it. But I’m like, you’re talking about weeks and I was like, alright, trust the process. So ended up adding a Saturday, a tempo run. And I usually do the temple run at the end of my long run. So the temple was just its own on Saturday. And then Tuesday and Thursdays, I just did straight speed work, but it was like short stuff, like 12 by four hundreds with short rest, faster than my 5k pace.

And then I was doing on Thursdays, like basically slow, slightly slower than my 5k pace. Short jogs. So it’s called what’s that called? It’s called a what’s the word when you do slightly slower than you pace and then faster recovery. Oh man, what’s the word? Oh man. No float. They’re called float intervals.

So you go instead of just jogging, at a really slow pace at 10 minute per mile pace or I actually would jog slightly faster than my marathon pace, so slightly slower than my marathon pace. So it’s your rest is not arrest. You’re like, okay. After I just did a S almost 10 K effort for four weeks.

I’m now doing three minutes at my slowly, slightly slower marathon pace. So that’s to build up my lactic system. So basically he was, yeah. Yeah. You’re bringing the floor up just a little bit. Yeah. Bring the basement up there. Yeah. So I know this is all yo, if you’re not in Texas, that science is all craziness, but I’m in the weeds.

I love this stuff. I love data. I love experimenting my body biohacking. As some people would say fitness. You’re in the right place. 

Remy: [00:20:27] I feel like that’s that’s the crowd that we swim in. And I’d like to think that the folks who are a tuning in and B are generally in our spaces, kinda know what’s going down.

What what we’re 

Daren: [00:20:40] about. Takeaway for use data, then ignore it and trust the process, using data, trusting it. But at the end of the day, listening to your own body, because sometimes the data you give the algorithm is wrong. That’s why coaches are super important. The human touch is necessary with all machines, algorithms, data, and formulas, without the data.

It’s just data with the human and the data slash technology. You become a superhuman. Your data is only as valuable as the. Variables that you give it and also how you interpret it and use it. So it has, like it’s how humans use it, what it gives it and then what you take from it. The back to the Strava training score or sorry fitness and freshness as they call it, which is just their take on the training peaks algorithm I actually was trying to, cause I, I looked back at my Ironman and it showed exactly when I peaked, like I went back.

So I went back four years. Of data and it legit showed exactly when I peaked and then how the drop off happened. It’s obviously, you know that, but I, if I would have known all of my volume was doing, XYZ, maybe I would have done a different taper, maybe I would’ve done it differently.

So back to your question about looking at every. I was looking at the Strava, fitness and freshness and watching my training load, my weekly training load and intensity and volume. And this session this training block, it actually. Was going down and it was way less than it was the year before. This is when you have to ignore data.

And this is where you have to go trust the process. And I kept saying yo, I’m hitting these times. I my, I know my GPS is accurate. I know these courses, I know the exact, all my training courses and all my time trials that I’m doing, I know they’re accurate. I feel good. Just trust it.

Even though the Strava stress score was low and theme five, the running virtuous. This is my own fun. Take on creating a model, frame, and lens that can help us see things better in our training and specifically running 

Remy: [00:22:40] one of those obvious lessons as a takeaway for today. Just one of those that you probably feel is irrelevant 

Daren: [00:22:50] in the middle.

So I broke it down into good and bad lessons. Yeah. We went, we weren’t real granular on it. I’ll say I’ll sum it up. I’ll start. I got a little graph that I made. All right. So it’s basically the virtuous run cycle. Is it, is there were, I’ll sum it up. I know you said just focus on one, but I’ll do a quick summary.

If you’re injury free and healthy runner, you can run more. If you can run. You then strength train a lot and you should, those kinds of coincide the kind of the same thing. So that’s obvious you can strength, train while also running a lot. Then when you’re able to strength, train and get your muscles up to, to be able to handle all the running, you then get faster, which when you’re running faster, you’re not getting injured and you’re a healthy runner.

So that’s the virtuous cycle. And that’s one of the reasons I think, pros are pros. They obviously genetically. Set up, but they got to work on that, and you need to run fast, you have to run fast the law specifies specify specificity to, to run a lot, to run a ultra marathon, you have to run a lot like in your training.

And I think strength training is one of those things where it’s not as one-to-one and a lot of people get confused. This kind of ties into something. I was actually going to talk to you about at the end. It’s a, it’s something I was Googling and I was like, oh shit, this is like a Darren, a deep dive, Darren deliberates on some weird fringe, not infringe.

Oh, we’ll say some of those that we’ll save it. We’ll save it. But the biggest thing is you got it. You got it. It’s the holistic approach. You really got to sort everything out because. Goes into everything else. And to really focus on one thing, no injuries, man. That was the biggest thing.

I know a dead horse with this or that tofu because yeah. Some of us are plant-based and love horses, but the ability to step back and learn from a bunch of failures is a beautiful thing. When zoomed out, you can see more of what things mean. When they go wrong in a race, the learnings are applicable for future training and races.

I’m a firm believer in doing something and having a 50, 50 chance of failure and success. It’s not ambitious enough. If you succeed more than 50%. It’s too ambitious if you fail more than 50% of the time. So the middle is the sweets moving through to the future. I’m feeling pretty damn confident. I know I can maintain a strong foundation of speed and endurance because of what happened this year.

And hopefully through all of that, I’ll keep performing better as I age and as well.