Ultra Marathon DNF: Yes, You Failed. Yes, It’s Okay.

by | Jan 2, 2019

I was perusing some online ultramarathon running groups last weekend and came across a post about DNFs in ultrarunning.

DNF stands for “Did Not Finish;” the participants name is not published and no belt buckle is awarded. The DNF is dreaded by many as hot-spots and slight aches turn into bloody blisters and swollen joints.

They’re a part of ultrarunning; eventually any person who ventures to run longer and longer and longer will fail an ultra.

Yes, I dare say fail.

Most of the comments on the posts I found offered words of support and encouragement for the runner who carries a DNF.

You still made it so far!

I can’t even run half of that!

Trying is not failing!

You’re incredible for even starting. What an accomplishment!

DNF doesn’t define you. It’s silly to even use that designation for people who try.

We’re going to give you the tools to Go Farther, Run Faster, and Live Stronger.

All in ONE weekly email!
Sign up NOW to receive weekly posts!

 

Toxicity in the form of helpful encouragement.

Mediocrity disguised as cheerfulness.

Comfort clawing at the door.

There is nothing wrong in the moment of a DNF. You’ve decided to quit –or your body has decided for you– and you give in, grasping for some relief from the pain of hours and hours and hours on your feet.

Sickness, mental deterioration, broken bones and torn ligaments.

There is no shame in a DNF. There is no need to question your character or your willpower. These remain intact.

These are not broken.

They aren’t broken because of what comes next.

What does come next?

You decide.

People’s words of encouragement, their propping up of your character and personal value, their words of appreciation for your effort all come in vain. Their Facebook comments and Instagram likes mean nothing.

In fact, these well-intended comments may unintentionally –unconsciously– bring you down.

Listen to them. Thank them. Welcome their words of encouragement.

Fall into what they stand for.

Comfort. Mediocrity. Complacency.

You tried. That distance is hard. You made the right decision.

Why aren’t any of them telling you to rise up, and confront another dragon?

Where are the Facebook comments telling you to get back on the Wicked Trail and get moving; time spent mourning a DNF is time lost in the pursuit of challenge and adventure!

Why are none of your Instagram followers asking you where the next challenge lies, or how you plan to conquer this challenge, this challenge that proved too great the first time?

A DNF is a moment of failure, but it doesn’t define you. What your mind sets upon after the DNF is what keeps your character and willpower alive. Let it wander away from social media, away from the kind words of those who didn’t taste the suffering and the pain of all those hours.

Set it upon the Wicked Trail; decide what comes next.

Remember why you ventured down this Wicked Trail in the first place; what led you to pursue such a challenge, one that proved too great? Why did you toe the line?

Have those reasons vanished? Are you not of the same mind and body?

Look in the mirror, not to social media and the kind words of friends and family.

Why did I dare go there?

It wasn’t for comfort and calm; you didn’t go there for acceptance and warmth.

You signed up for that ultramarathon, the dreaded DNF, because it made you afraid. You signed up to be dark and cold, to experience the twisted roots of the ominous forest.

You toed the line because you are your own culture.

And now is no time to forget that.

 Your rejection of the norm, of the established standard of mediocrity and complacency, must carry through after your DNF. This rejection was the reason you wanted to see if you had it in you to run the race, the ultramarathon.

But guess what?

You didn’t have it in you.

And that’s okay.

The end of that race, which came too early for you, was never the end goal in the first place.

Right?

Remember why you signed up for the race.

Your “Why?” surely wasn’t because you wanted to run 50 miles or 100 miles or more.

It was deeper than that.

It was to inspire yourself, to conquer the unimaginable and experience the effects in your daily life post-race. It was to inspire others; you wanted to teach your children, or brother, or sister, or friends that your physical limits are a decision you have to make. It was to live a life free from the bondage of comfort, the great lie that permeates a life and breaks down it’s potential, dragging it into complacency.

You ran that race, you laced up your shoes and toed the line, you ventured toward and experienced the dreaded DNF because there was a lot more at stake, because you are your own culture.

All of these reasons of inspiration and embracing discomfort and living a life free of the confines of culture are ongoing processes.

They don’t happen in a moment of success; they aren’t forgotten in a DNF.

The real finish line was never this race, or finishing this race.

The Wicked Trail winds on, past the final aid station, past the spectators at mile 99, and past the finish line. It carries on regardless of whether you win the race or quit at mile 10.

You don’t have to look very hard.

It’s right in front of you.

Thank your friends and family for their words of encouragement and respect. Set an example of humility in the face of a great defeat.

But don’t let your mind wander far from your “Why?” or from your next challenge. Confront another dragon.

Welcome to the Wicked Trail

Written by: George C.

Written by: George C.

Writer, Wicked Trail Running

When he's not running with his Cattle Dog, Cowboy, in Raleigh, North Carolina, George likes to kick back and keep the content on Wicked Trail Running fresh and engaging. He's got a few Ultras coming up in 2019, so if you need to get in touch with him, the local parks and greenways around Raleigh are a good place to start looking.

He really doesn't like cooking, so if you've got any quick vegan smoothie ideas or recipes, shoot an email to george@wickedtrailrunning.com. He also enjoys talking about running, mental toughness, and the art of mindset alteration.

Follow George on Instagram @georgecarterc!

Book of the Month:

Can't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds is a dive into the demons that plagued David Goggins -elite ultra endurance athlete and Navy SEAL- through his early life and an exploration of what it took for him to become a master of his own mind against all statistical odds. His tools for mental stimulation and growth are useful for anyone interested in venturing into endurance sports, becoming a better person, and mastering his or her mind. A must read!

Light 2 Light 50 Race Report: First Ultra Marathon Victory

Ultra marathon running isn't about winning, unless it is. Ultra marathon running is subjective; a person's journey through the darkness, down the Wicked Trail, is driven by his or her own passions, fears, and desires. This journey into pain is driven by his or her own...

Ultra Marathon Training: Crush Expectations

Most people running their first, or second, or third ultra marathon carry expectations into the race. They had training expectations; they planned the miles and hours they'd have to train, running and strengthening and stretching their way to ultra endurance. When...

Fasted Running Is Your Best Friend: 3 Reasons To Try It

For thirteen miles, I felt invincible. For the final three, I wasn't sure I'd finish. I felt like I did near the end of my first 100 mile race, although with much less lower body-body pain. It was an ultra marathon replication. I smiled during those long, arduous...

The Best Ultra Marathons: Is Yours On The List?

"What's the best ultra marathon?" Is it the most remote or adventurous like Marathon des Sables, the most challenging like Badwater or the H.U.R.T 100, or is it simply your first 100 miler, the one that breaks you into the world of ultra-endurance? Is it the race that...

UltraMarathon Pain Management: The Pain Cave

What is your perspective on ultramarathon running? Adventurous and exhilarating? Calming and therapeutic? Full of pain and suffering? Pain management has much to do with your perspective on running an ultramarathon. What is your perspective? Why do you run an...

“Find the Time” to Train for Your UltraMarathon

"I'd love to sign up for an ultra marathon! I just can't find the time to train or be away from my responsibilities. It's just not for someone like me." Find the time.  Where are you looking for time? Early in the mornings and late at night? Around lunch? Anywhere you...

share this post

Ultra Marathon DNF: Yes, You Failed. Yes, It’s Okay.

by | Jan 2, 2019

I was perusing some online ultramarathon running groups last weekend and came across a post about DNFs in ultrarunning.

DNF stands for “Did Not Finish;” the participants name is not published and no belt buckle is awarded. The DNF is dreaded by many as hot-spots and slight aches turn into bloody blisters and swollen joints.

They’re a part of ultrarunning; eventually any person who ventures to run longer and longer and longer will fail an ultra.

Yes, I dare say fail.

We’re going to give you the tools to Go Farther, Run Faster, and Live Stronger.

All in ONE weekly email!
Sign up NOW to receive weekly posts!

 

Most of the comments on the posts I found offered words of support and encouragement for the runner who carries a DNF.

You still made it so far!

I can’t even run half of that!

Trying is not failing!

You’re incredible for even starting. What an accomplishment!

DNF doesn’t define you. It’s silly to even use that designation for people who try.

Toxicity in the form of helpful encouragement.

Mediocrity disguised as cheerfulness.

Comfort clawing at the door.

There is nothing wrong in the moment of a DNF. You’ve decided to quit –or your body has decided for you– and you give in, grasping for some relief from the pain of hours and hours and hours on your feet.

Sickness, mental deterioration, broken bones and torn ligaments.

There is no shame in a DNF. There is no need to question your character or your willpower. These remain intact.

These are not broken.

They aren’t broken because of what comes next.

What does come next?

You decide.

People’s words of encouragement, their propping up of your character and personal value, their words of appreciation for your effort all come in vain. Their Facebook comments and Instagram likes mean nothing.

In fact, these well-intended comments may unintentionally –unconsciously– bring you down.

Listen to them. Thank them. Welcome their words of encouragement.

Fall into what they stand for.

Comfort. Mediocrity. Complacency.

You tried. That distance is hard. You made the right decision.

Why aren’t any of them telling you to rise up, and confront another dragon?

Where are the Facebook comments telling you to get back on the Wicked Trail and get moving; time spent mourning a DNF is time lost in the pursuit of challenge and adventure!

Why are none of your Instagram followers asking you where the next challenge lies, or how you plan to conquer this challenge, this challenge that proved too great the first time?

A DNF is a moment of failure, but it doesn’t define you. What your mind sets upon after the DNF is what keeps your character and willpower alive. Let it wander away from social media, away from the kind words of those who didn’t taste the suffering and the pain of all those hours.

Set it upon the Wicked Trail; decide what comes next.

Remember why you ventured down this Wicked Trail in the first place; what led you to pursue such a challenge, one that proved too great? Why did you toe the line?

Have those reasons vanished? Are you not of the same mind and body?

Look in the mirror, not to social media and the kind words of friends and family.

Why did I dare go there?

It wasn’t for comfort and calm; you didn’t go there for acceptance and warmth.

You signed up for that ultramarathon, the dreaded DNF, because it made you afraid. You signed up to be dark and cold, to experience the twisted roots of the ominous forest.

You toed the line because you are your own culture.

And now is no time to forget that.

 Your rejection of the norm, of the established standard of mediocrity and complacency, must carry through after your DNF. This rejection was the reason you wanted to see if you had it in you to run the race, the ultramarathon.

But guess what?

You didn’t have it in you.

And that’s okay.

The end of that race, which came too early for you, was never the end goal in the first place.

Right?

Remember why you signed up for the race.

Your “Why?” surely wasn’t because you wanted to run 50 miles or 100 miles or more.

It was deeper than that.

It was to inspire yourself, to conquer the unimaginable and experience the effects in your daily life post-race. It was to inspire others; you wanted to teach your children, or brother, or sister, or friends that your physical limits are a decision you have to make. It was to live a life free from the bondage of comfort, the great lie that permeates a life and breaks down it’s potential, dragging it into complacency.

You ran that race, you laced up your shoes and toed the line, you ventured toward and experienced the dreaded DNF because there was a lot more at stake, because you are your own culture.

All of these reasons of inspiration and embracing discomfort and living a life free of the confines of culture are ongoing processes.

They don’t happen in a moment of success; they aren’t forgotten in a DNF.

The real finish line was never this race, or finishing this race.

The Wicked Trail winds on, past the final aid station, past the spectators at mile 99, and past the finish line. It carries on regardless of whether you win the race or quit at mile 10.

You don’t have to look very hard.

It’s right in front of you.

Thank your friends and family for their words of encouragement and respect. Set an example of humility in the face of a great defeat.

But don’t let your mind wander far from your “Why?” or from your next challenge. Confront another dragon.

Welcome to the Wicked Trail

Written by: George C.

Written by: George C.

Writer, Wicked Trail Running

When he's not running with his Cattle Dog, Cowboy, in Raleigh, North Carolina, George likes to kick back and keep the content on Wicked Trail Running fresh and engaging. He's got a few Ultras coming up in 2019, so if you need to get in touch with him, the local parks and greenways around Raleigh are a good place to start looking.

He really doesn't like cooking, so if you've got any quick vegan smoothie ideas or recipes, shoot an email to george@wickedtrailrunning.com. He also enjoys talking about running, mental toughness, and the art of mindset alteration.

Follow George on Instagram @georgecarterc!

Book of the Month:

Can't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds is a dive into the demons that plagued David Goggins -elite ultra endurance athlete and Navy SEAL- through his early life and an exploration of what it took for him to become a master of his own mind against all statistical odds. His tools for mental stimulation and growth are useful for anyone interested in venturing into endurance sports, becoming a better person, and mastering his or her mind. A must read!

Light 2 Light 50 Race Report: First Ultra Marathon Victory

Ultra marathon running isn't about winning, unless it is. Ultra marathon running is subjective; a person's journey through the darkness, down the Wicked Trail, is driven by his or her own passions, fears, and desires. This journey into pain is driven by his or her own...

Ultra Marathon Training: Crush Expectations

Most people running their first, or second, or third ultra marathon carry expectations into the race. They had training expectations; they planned the miles and hours they'd have to train, running and strengthening and stretching their way to ultra endurance. When...

Fasted Running Is Your Best Friend: 3 Reasons To Try It

For thirteen miles, I felt invincible. For the final three, I wasn't sure I'd finish. I felt like I did near the end of my first 100 mile race, although with much less lower body-body pain. It was an ultra marathon replication. I smiled during those long, arduous...

The Best Ultra Marathons: Is Yours On The List?

"What's the best ultra marathon?" Is it the most remote or adventurous like Marathon des Sables, the most challenging like Badwater or the H.U.R.T 100, or is it simply your first 100 miler, the one that breaks you into the world of ultra-endurance? Is it the race that...

UltraMarathon Pain Management: The Pain Cave

What is your perspective on ultramarathon running? Adventurous and exhilarating? Calming and therapeutic? Full of pain and suffering? Pain management has much to do with your perspective on running an ultramarathon. What is your perspective? Why do you run an...

“Find the Time” to Train for Your UltraMarathon

"I'd love to sign up for an ultra marathon! I just can't find the time to train or be away from my responsibilities. It's just not for someone like me." Find the time.  Where are you looking for time? Early in the mornings and late at night? Around lunch? Anywhere you...

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