The Art of the Fail: Ultrarunner Karl Meltzer on the Hard Way to Learn Resilience

Ultrarunner Karl Meltzer
Ultrarunner Karl Meltzer MCT / Getty Images

Professional ultrarunner Karl Meltzer on how his failed feats taught him how to stay resilient.

“I failed to set the Appalachian Trail thru-hike record twice. The first time, in 2008, my shins went down. The second time, in 2014, I wasn’t in great shape, so with 600 miles left, knowing I was off-pace, I said screw it and went home. That was hard to swallow.



But by 2016, I had learned to laugh off bad patches and focus on how lucky I was to be doing what I was doing. That’s when everything clicked: It took me three tries, but I set the record, at 45 days 22 hours. If you can convince yourself that things will get better, they will.”

This essay is part of our Art of the Fail series.