DNF (Did Not Finish) – let’s speak about it!

My first DNF

Having completed Brighton Marathon carrying an injury in April 2018, I tried running 10km on the Wednesday at Chase the Sun Clapham Common with Runthrough. I had promised that I would run with a good friend of mine who had never ran an event before. My partner also ran the event but at a faster pace than us.

After half a mile, I was not in a good way but tried battling on. At the 5km mark, my body felt very heavy, each step that I took felt very forced and I could feel my injury starting to flare up again. I just couldn’t carry on, even walking felt very tough – I stopped at approximately 7.5km. I was beaten – it was my first DNF!

With my nature of fighting on no matter what the challenge, pulling out was a massive blow to me mentally. Not being able to run with my friend and instead having to pull out during the run made it even tougher. I had let my friend down on a promise which I had made, during his first running event. It should have been a special run for him.

My friend completed the run and enjoyed it. Thankfully, both my friend and partner understood what had happened to me and assured me that it was normal to feel the way I did having ran the marathon only a few days before. I was still annoyed with myself though and upset.

The following weeks were tough, I went into a bout of depression and couldn’t pull myself out of it. It was a cycle of putting on further weight, my pace slowed down, and I struggled to run. I had to force myself to run knowing that I had both Rock n Roll Liverpool coming up and Great North Run – the event which had been my focus in previous years.

Social media helped keep my love for running but it was working with my coach that helped me overcome the depression and address issues which were causing me issues.

What I learnt from the DNF

I went on to learn that DNF is common in running but an area that runners don’t like to talk about. The highest percentage of runners not finishing a running event are at the full marathon distance (26.2 miles).

Runners DNF for a variety of reasons, from injuries through to health issues such as dizziness and dizziness.

Mentally DNF’s may leave you frustrated, irritated and upset with yourself. Runners can be so disappointed about their failure that they associate negativity with running itself, which causes them to stop running for a while.

I believe that everything happens for a reason and learnt that DNF is not be the worst thing to happen. Listening to your body and knowing when to stop takes a huge amount of courage.

It is important to understand why the DNF happened and what can be done to address the issue. Come back stronger!

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