Wednesday, December 14, 2016

What's Your Threshold?

The other day I was reading a blog post where the author was talking about DNS  (did not start) and DNF (did not finish) in regards to racing.

This got me thinking about all the circumstances that one would encounter that could possibly make them not finish a race.  I have mentioned numerous times about how much pain I was in (due to ITBS) when I did my first marathon which was part of the Goofy Challenge. I did the Half marathon on Saturday and the full marathon on Sunday. Although it was painful to run, I never for a minute didn't think I would finish the race. I knew I would walk it on in to the finish if I had to, but I would not quite.
Finishers of the Goofy Challenge!

This reminded me of a story from the half marathon.  My sister and I were running together and after we were exiting the back lot of Magic Kingdom (which was around mile 5 or 6), there was a med tent there.  I may have stopped at the med tent to get Bio freeze, I don't really remember. But what I do remember was a young lady (probably in her 20's), that came up to the med tent and just nonchalantly asked the medic "What do I do if I want to quite?"  (Her exact words)

 I remember this instance so well. My sister must have heard this young lady too because at that time she looked at me and said "Don't even think about it, you're finishing this".

 I was never thinking about quitting but I was thinking about that girl and what could have possibly been so bad that she wouldn't be able to finish the last 7 or so miles of the race.  We were in an early corral (and I assume she was too since she was this far already) so she certainly would have had enough time to walk to the finish without being swept.  I wasn't doing so hot myself so I would have considered walking the rest of the race with her if it got her to the finish line. I wondered if it would have been her first half marathon.

So this got me wondering, what makes someone DNF?  Do you have to be physically down and out or would you DNF if you were mentally exhausted?  Would you even consider walking the rest of the way to the finish line or would you DNF if you know you can't make it by running?

What's your theory on this? -M

36 comments:

  1. Interesting question! I think that if I'm committed to a race and I've trained/feeling okay, I know I'm going to finish... no matter what it takes. As long as I'm not going to further injure myself, I'm in it! The only way I could see a DNS is if I had illness or injury beyond ability to move. Thankfully I haven't! xo

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    1. Yea, there is that line between being determined enough to finish and risking further injury.

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  2. I have one race I probably should have DNS, and definitely should have DNF -- it made running painful for many months.

    But like you, at the time, it never even entered my mind.

    I do think at Disney you're going to find a lot of people that aren't serious runners -- so that might explain it. It's hard, and some people don't want to work that hard.

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    1. Being a Disney runner myself, I hate to admit this but unfortunately I think you are right. There are a lot of people who are doing the race just. For the novelty of doing a disney race.

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  3. I just finished reading my book club book, Cory Reese's Nowhere Near First, and he has a different perspective on DNF. He says there is no shame in a DNF, that the F doesn't stand for failure. Of course, he runs 100 mile races, so that is a whole other animal! I think for me, I committed to a race and I want to finish! But stuff happens...

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  4. I have one DNS because I knew I would DNF, but I walked the entire WDW half because of my ITBS. As bad as my time was that year, that medal is one of my favorites. Proof of just how stubborn I can be.

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    1. Some of the races where I "struggled" the most have been some of my greatest accomplishments!

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  5. About 3 years ago I had a race that I should have stopped bc my shin hurt so badly. I ended up finishing with a stress fracture. Lesson learned!

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  6. I've always wondered about this as well. I've DNS a few races, mostly because i know that if I start a race I WILL finish it, and in those cases it would have been dangerous or a bad idea. I can understand why elites DNF, because they don't want to throw away a ton of training on a bad race, but for casual runners like myself I'll be fine finishing slowly!

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    1. Yup, a finish is a finish no matter how fast or how slow!

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  7. Great question, and I think my answer would depend on the race and the situation. If I were too physically hurt to make it the rest of the way that I'd probably DNF. But I'd probably also be too stubborn to DNF and would want to try my best to get across the finish line.

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    1. You are right! It does depend on the race. If there is bling involved I think I may push a little harder than if there wasn't anything appealing at the finish line...lol

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  8. I've had a couple DNSs due to injury (stress fracture), but never a DNF (knock on wood). If I can get myself to the start line, I feel like I can get myself to the finish line. And there is no way that I wouldn't finish a Disney race (crawl over broken glass if necessary). A friend of mine has twisted her ankle during TWO Tinkerbell halfs and finished. I'm sure there are some injuries where it is an absolute no-go and dangerous to keep going, but the severity level would have to be pretty extreme for me!

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    1. How did your friend twist her ankle? Was it something on the course?

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  9. Last year I attempted the WDW Marathon. During my training I had been plagued by bad blisters, but I thought I had it under control. I'm normally a back of the packer and like to do 1:1 intervals. I started off the marathon feeling great. I bounced through MK, felt good when we entered AK. But when we left AK I started feeling my first blister. Within the next two miles, I had every thought imaginable. "What if I don't finish?" "What if I'm swept?" "Ok, I'm not going to finish this. Should I stop now?" The blisters were painful. I mean crying with every step I took painful. The balloon ladies passed me at WWOS. And I knew I was done. By I kept going. I was going to keep moving for as long as I could. During my last mile, one of my blisters spread and got bigger. I staggered, cried out and cursed. A person walking next to me, asked if I was ok and should they get a medic. My response "No, I need to at least make it to the bus on my own." When I got to the bus at Mile 19. I was in tears. I called my parents to let them know I wasn't going to be at the finish line. I sent a text to my support friends to let them know. But I never stopped and I never gave up. Those blisters were debilitating. I lost most of my toenails over the next couple months. It took me days to heal (and I foolishly did a 5k 3 days later for Castaway Cay). Until then I never had a DNF. Nor did I expect I would. Sometimes life happens. I'm proud of what I accomplished. I never gave up. (Really I think my feet would've preferred if I had given up 5 miles earlier when the first blister started). DNF isn't something to be ashamed or ask how it could happen. It's something to learn from. Something to learn something about yourself.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your story. Huge blisters are no joke! Do you think you will attempt the marathon again sometime?

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  10. I really do think that barring a muscle tear, bone breakage or something of that nature, it's really possible to finish a marathon or a half- I couldn't speak to anything longer! I was just reflecting on this actually, as my very first marathon this year was a potential DNF situation. 6 miles in my hip and left leg started to cramp from an old rock climbing injury. 8 miles in, I could barely walk. But honestly, I swear to god, it never once occurred to me to stop. I certainly went through moments of thinking 'shit this is going to be hard' or 'wow the finish line is really far away' but honestly quitting just wasn't an option. So to some extent, I think it's mental- even though I'm not one of those 'don't stop until you puke' kind of people! x

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    1. Haha, I get your point! Hey as long as you can physically keep on moving the finish line is always in reach!

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  11. I've had back up to come get me if I ever needed a DNF & that was in the case of my knee. Wondering if he would hold up for a long race. Luckily, thank you Lord, I've never had to make that call to 'come pick me up'

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  12. I find it very interesting when somebody starts a race and doesn't finish it. So much training and time goes into it, that I couldn't imagine not finishing. But then there is injuries and it's better to give up than to make the injury worst.

    Not starting I understand, injuries happen, life happens, I would rather not start than not finish.

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  13. I have never DNF'd and I can only think of one race (my 2nd marathon) when I had to walk more than planned (usually I only walk through aid stations). However I have DNS'd many MANY times. If I'm unprepared or injured that I think I might not finish then I don't start. But if something came up during the race - I would try to walk to the finish. I would have to be in really serious pain to DNF I think. But thankfully I've never gotten to that point.

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  14. Well I have DNS and deferred to 2017 because I was out with the tear in my foot, but other that I will go run even if I didn't get to train much lol
    The second half I did was on a super hot day, I got heat sick and was heaving behind a bush on the course. It took about 6 minutes but then I felt good enough to walk. I walk/jogged until the end. It took forever and i felt fairly miserable and I had a fleeting thought about not finishing but I dismissed it. You just have to roll with what the day brings you.

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  15. Interesting topic! I have never DNF'ed because I am overly cautious and opt to DNS if I think it is possible I wouldn't be able to finish the race. That being said, I don't believe I would quit a race due to the mental toughness part but I sure have DNS'ed because of crappy weather and stuff like that. I think the only way I would quit a race I started would be that I injured myself during a race or that I feel an injury coming on. Finishing a race is not worth being not able to run for several weeks. I would walk it in if I had to, but if injury prevented I would suck it up and quit. I hope I never have to quit a race but obviously it could happen to anyone.

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  16. Great question. We were just talking about this type of subject in one of my classes I hope to turn my class notes into a blog post one day.
    I think its different for every person. Some people are hardcore and want things more than others and just know how to get it done. Others are weaker and some pain and discomfort manifest to them in big ways and can in ways talj themselves out of something or into quitting.
    A major injury or bad injury in a race I totally see the common sense in a DNF so you can try again another time.
    But for mind matters and pain well I am thankfully too hardcore to let that discourage me. I want the finish pushing thru is second nature. I'm the same with everything in life I don't give up, thankfully!

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  17. I think I would stop a race only if it was due to an injury- if it was really painful and I couldnt run or I would know I would make it worse by finishing the race. Luckily I have never had a DNF but I did have some DNSs due to injuries!

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  18. I have never been in a position where a DNF was realistic. I usually enter my races well-trained and confident. My 10k this year was one I may have walked to the finish had I run it alone, but have Elizabeth and Matt at the finish line meant I had to keep chugging away, albeit more slowly than I wanted. I think barring real injury, I don't understand why someone would DNF.

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  19. I really hope that I would make an intelligent decision regarding DNS or DNF if long term my training/racing would be impacted in a negative way.

    The closest I came to a DNF was during a Princess Half Marathon. I turned to corner in Fantasyland to approach the castle and had to swerve to avoid a participant who had stopped dead center of the course to take a picture. In doing so, I tweaked something in my knee.

    I mentally debated what to do until the Grand Floridian - I really didn't want to injure myself to the point where I couldn't train for months. Thru experimentation I found that I could jog/walk intervals without pain so I continued on.

    I managed to eek out a 3 second PR that day and often wonder what my time "would have been."

    I did defer the Wine and Dine in 2015. My heart just wasn't in the training and I knew that I would not be able to step up to the start line well prepared. I don't really count that as a DNS since I made the decision a couple months in advance.

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  20. This is such a hard line to figure out in the moment. I did end up switching from 10k to 5k during a Summer race because of the heat and feeling like I just couldn't get my breathing or heart rate under control. In hindsight, I could have just walked the rest of the 10k but in the moment, it felt too scary to keep going, especially as the 5k/10k split was right by the finish line. But if I had tried to keep going and things got worse, I wouldn't have been close to the finish line.

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  21. Iv'e never had to DNF but I am so stubborn I would walk the rest of the way as long as I was physically able.

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  22. This is a tough question! Like heather, I'm super stubborn and would try to finish the race no matter what (and within reason).

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  23. I have had one DNF, and it was a no-brainer for me. It was a week before my 12-hour Ultra (this past July). I had done a 5-mile trail race that morning, and was attempting to also do a 5K/10K combo event later that evening (so...doing the math, it would have been 14-ish total miles for the day). I had also done a 5K race earlier that week (for the 4th of July), and had (stupidly) worn some old "comfy" shoes....which threw off my gait/stride/SOMETHING (but I did not realize it until a few days later...at the weekend's events). The trail race went well, but when it came time to do the 5K that evening, I could tell something was off. The 5K was so tough for me, I really struggled throughout the entire race. We had about 30 minutes before the 10K began, and I kept trying to stretch and work out the kinks...and nothing helped. Within the first 1/2 mile of the 10K, I knew I needed to stop. I was practically limping and knew I had no business trying to go any further or I'd risk serious injury and not be able to do my ultra the following week. At the 1-mile mark, I pulled out and found a race official and surrendered my timing chip. It was so liberating, and I had ZERO regrets in doing so. So, I guess I DNF'd out of necessity to avoid further injury.

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  24. If I make it to the start, I will make it to the finish. I think the only thing that could stop me is a mid-race injury. I've run through storms and even after tripping and falling, but if I fell and couldn't get back up, I'd call it off. It would have to be very bad.

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  25. I have never had a DNF, but I did get picked up at mile 24 during my first marathon. I was so upset, cried, the whole bit. I hadn't trained for the altitude and I wanted to die, but I never gave up. They dropped us off at mile 25 and I finished the race. I never give up and will walk it in if I have to. I think the only thing that would make me DNF is if I had an injury that physically prevented me from finishing. I think as an endurance athlete you have to mentally train for long distances more than people want to talk about.

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Fairytales and Fitness is a personal blog authored and edited by us, Meranda and Lacey. The thoughts expressed here represent only our own and are not meant to be taken as professional advice. Please note that our thoughts and opinions change from time to time. We consider this a necessary consequence of having an open mind in an ever changing society. Any thoughts and opinions expressed within our out-of-date posts may not be the same, nor even similar, to those we may express today.