A DNS is better than a DNF

Well, this is the post I hoped I wouldn’t have to write.

The weekend started so well. Ben and me got up early to go to Parkrun and help them set up everything.

Netley Abbey Parkrun

We’re now on course C due to the weather. This means another hill has been added and a lot more running on gravel. Definitely not a PB course! As we finished setting up I realised I’d forgotten my Garmin. I never run without my watch so immediately panicked. But I realised this was probably a good thing. I wasn’t aiming for a PB, I was just going to run however I felt. Time didn’t matter.

Anyway, it was tough in a good way. I’d missed running with such speed and I was happy. I managed 21:59 and 3rd female. Not a PB by far but for the course and my current running fitness I was pleased.

But I got home and throughout the day my knee ached a lot. I stretched, foam rolled and iced. I tried to convince myself it was fine.

The next day I got up early for an ‘unplanned-distance’ long run. I walked Alfie first. Immediately I could tell my knee felt off. Again I convinced myself it was fine. I did a long warm up at home – dynamic stretches and foam rolling. As soon as I set off I knew it wasn’t right. But who judges a run by their first mile, I argued  in my head. It’s laughable now to think I’d even put my fuel belt on and had dreams of running 18 miles. I was running 9min/miles and it wasn’t good.

I managed 5 miles. I got home and just sat on the floor and went into overdrive panicking about how I could make up lost runs and miles. It’s OK, I’ll run 18 miles next weekend. I’ll give it time this week. It’ll be fine. I went upstairs to shower and looked at myself in the mirror.

What am I doing?

What am I doing to my body? What am I putting it through? I have four weeks left until the marathon. I’ve run 17 miles – three weeks ago. And it wasn’t a great run. I haven’t had a consistent good full week of running since before Mexico. Why the hell do I think I can run a marathon?

Do I want to run a marathon and feel disappointed with my time? Do I want to run a marathon and just make it? Do I want to finish at the end broken? Or worse, not finish?

My knee is not better. And sure it could get better in time for the marathon – but what training will I manage before then? What happens if my knee isn’t quite healed? And the adrenaline of the race masks any pain my body is desperately trying to tell me about? I run through it and ruin my body.

I want to walk to the start line knowing I am ready. And I don’t want to just make it to the finish line. I want to absolutely smash it. I want to feel proud of what I’ve achieved, with no regrets.

I can’t pretend I’m not absolutely devastated. I can’t pretend that I didn’t do a lot of crying yesterday. But as soon as I decided to pull out of the marathon, a huge weight was lifted off of me. The deep sickness in the pit of my stomach disappeared. This is the most sensible thing to do.

This isn’t my time. This isn’t my race.

I probably haven’t mentioned this on the blog but Ben and me signed up to the Paris marathon ages ago – when things were better in the world of running for me. The Paris marathon is April. My plan going forward now is spending up until the end of the year being sensible. Limiting my running and strengthening my body. I can then, providing I’m all injury-free, properly start my training plan in January. I’ll have three months to give it my all, starting with a healthy body.

Though I feel incredibly down about this whole thing, I know this is the right thing to do. I’ll still be there on 22nd December to support Ben. I’ll support and cheer him on, vicariously running it through him. My time will come, just not this year.

Have you ever had to pull out of a race?

Have you ever DNF’ed at a race?

19 Replies to “A DNS is better than a DNF”

  1. Oh no! I’m really sorry to hear that your knee still isn’t better and that you’ve had to pull out of the marathon but at the same time glad that you’ve removed some of the stress that you’ve had over the past few weeks. It must have been an incredibly hard decision to make but being able to focus on Paris will help. Like you said, often injury pain is masked by the adrenaline rush of a race and you could have ended up being out from running for much longer if you had not fully recovered by race day.
    Fingers crossed that your knee is feeling better soon.

  2. Oh Anna I’m really sorry, but I think you’ve made a wise decision. You have to take care of your body, and your time will come when you will be ready to stand on the start line and rock the race. This must be so frustrating for you, but think if you had forced yourself to do it you could have injured yourself further and ended up being out of action for a long time. It’s a tough decision to make, but I have a huge amount of respect for you for deciding to pull out. Rest up! Fingers crossed for your injury recovery!

  3. Oh Anna I’m so, so sorry to read this. You must be so disappointed but you have totally made the right decision, imagine if you caused yourself lasting damage training or doing the marathon itself and were unable to run for a really long time – whatever the outcome of the marathon it just wouldn’t be worth it.
    I think Paris sounds like a much better race, you have time to recover and train. I’m sure you’ll achieve so much more, so much stronger for DNSing this time.
    Well done for making such a brave decision, I hope your knee feels better really soon!

  4. Oh Anna, believe me in the past I’ve been there and it sucks. You are totally doing the right thing, I pulled out of my last opportunity to run the GNR, not so much for injury but more because of what the training was doing to my body. You have been very brave and sensible, be very, very proud of yourself for looking after your body xxx

  5. Oh poor you, but as you say you know it is the right decision for you. And it is lucky you have another marathon to train for in the spring.
    I had to not start a few races- Brighton half and Silverstone half- both races I was looking forward to, as I was not allowed to run while waiting for my op, and I was upset about both (and as Andy ran them but doesn’t enjoy it as much as me it was sort of adding insult to injury in my mind)- but the time passes and the opportunity comes around again, it just takes some waiting.

  6. I totally think you did the right thing here girl. Not starting is MUCH better than not finishing. Talking for me personally, I would’ve been MUCH harder on myself if I wouldn’t have been able to finish it, but at least not starting kind of helps you fight off that guilt!
    Listen to your body girl!

  7. Well I’m sure you must be really bummed about this, but I think it’s a really smart idea. You’re right that you would really regret not being able to give your all in the race, and more importantly you could REALLY mess up your knee and potentially do long-term damage if you don’t let it heal properly. It’s definitely a bummer but I think it’s a smart move. Just think how awesome the one in Paris will be!!

  8. Oh Anna, I’m so sorry to read this 🙁 I think you’ve done exactly the right thing though – although I can understand you’re bitterly disappointed, Paris will be a great goal to focus on and to get you through the Winter and out into Spring with a literal spring in your step 🙂 Take care of yourself x

  9. I know how disappointed you must be, bu I’d much rather read up your DNS than having to be rushed to the emergency room or be out of running for a year due to a serious injury. You made the right choice and I’m very proud of you! Again, I can onl y imagine how hard it was to go through this, but you will have another shot for sure.

    I hope you are having a relaxing weekend and recovering 🙂

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