I’m not afraid of a little criticism from the Internet. I wouldn’t be a blogger if I was, but recently I read a comment on someone else’s blog that really bothered me.
After Chicago, a blogger I follow wrote about how the decision to DNF a marathon can be just as hard if not harder than running the marathon itself.
The blogger whose post I was reading talked about how one race doesn’t define us, and how DNF’ing because of injury is a perfectly valid reason to do so. Of course most runners know this, but it’s still nice to hear.
The first comment under the post said:
“I finish races no matter what. I don’t have a quitter’s mentality when it comes to racing.”
Cool story, bro.
Here’s what I want to tell that commenter:
Dear Holier Than Thou commenter:
I hope that you never have to DNF a race due to injury, because I can promise you it’s a really crappy feeling.
I don’t appreciate your words, and I am sure the guy I met who dropped at mile 17 with a freshly sprained ankle doesn’t appreciate it either. He told me he was feeling good and on his way to his first sub-4 finish before he rolled his ankle on a rock in the road. You know who really doesn’t appreciate your comment? The man who had a heart attack on the Chicago Marathon course and DNF’d to have his life saved. This was going to be his 18th marathon finish so I don’t think he has a quitter’s mentality either.
All people have different life experiences. You don’t know everyone’s story and you don’t know what twists and turns your own story will take in the future, so just try and be empathic and supportive if you can. If that’s impossible just try not to speak unless you have something nice to say!
Also, one race does not define an entire person’s mentality or work ethic. That’s just ridiculous!
Up until Chicago I had never DNF’d a race, but I had enough empathy to understand why someone might do it even if they were a dedicated runner.
I don’t need to read comments from people coddling me and telling me there will be another race on another day. I know that (although it is nice to hear and I appreciate those comments very much)!
You know what comments and emails I found to be the most helpful right after DNF’ing? Stories from other runners who had DNF’d a race only to come back and crush that same race the next year. There are plenty of stories like that and they are uplifting, motivating and encouraging.
Here’s the thing, most distance runners are dedicated and determined people. It just comes with the nature of our hobby. You don’t drag yourself out of bed before the sun rises to run 20 miles if you’re not dedicated and determined. That means if the time ever comes where you’re faced with DNF’ing a race it can feel like the world is crashing down upon your shoulders, but then like a phoenix rising from the ashes you get a renewed sense of purpose: to own the race that beat you.
I love that the running community is made up of people who are dedicated and TOUGH. It doesn’t matter how many bad races or training runs we have, you can knock us down 7 times and we’ll get up 8 times.