Home Running DNF of the Soul – iRunFar

DNF of the Soul – iRunFar

DNF of the Soul – iRunFar


[Editor’s Note: This Community Voices piece comes from Lydia Thomson of the U.K.]

There are such a lot of methods you may slice a DNF (didn’t end). “It simply wasn’t your day.” “You probably did the best factor.” “Understanding when to cease is even tougher than ending.” “You’ll come again stronger.” “It’s nonetheless an important achievement.”

After I dropped from my first try at operating 100 miles, on the 2023 Thames Path 100 Mile, these types of encouraging condolences got here flooding in from my pals. I nodded weakly and mentioned, “Thanks,” however on the time, none of those truly sat proper. What did I would like individuals to say?

In the course of the hour I spent sitting in an assist station at mile 71, I desperately needed somebody to simply degree with me. To correctly hear me out. I do know what a low level seems to be like, and this wasn’t it. Sort hearts pressed sweets into my palms and invited me to stroll with them. “Have some scorching meals earlier than you determine. Some tacky beans?” My eyes flooded with tears. I might solely smile and shake my head.

My DNF was attributable to a certain quantity of psychological burnout. I used to be within the means of transferring home and altering jobs on the time. About 45 miles into the race, the River Thames overwhelmed me and I had a panic assault. I imagined strolling into the subsequent assist station and dramatically proclaiming, “It’s not my physique that’s injured, it’s my thoughts.”

Operating 100 miles is a fierce and delightful beast, and you probably have something happening mentally or bodily, the race will discover it and pressure you to stare lengthy and laborious at it. It’s not about how far you may run, it’s about how lengthy you may stare.

Lydia Thomson - 2023 Thames Path 100 Mile

Lydia Thomson in the course of the 2023 Thames Path 100 Mile. All pictures courtesy of Lydia Thompson.

“That is the place you’ll uncover who you actually are,” one type runner mentioned to me. “However what if I don’t wish to know?” I replied, and the entire assist station laughed in sympathy. Nevertheless it was the truest factor I might have mentioned.

So right here, now, on the sweat-soaked, dribbling finish of the race, nursing a cup of tea, I had no tenacity left to rally. However neither did I come right here for a demise march. I used to be right here to do my finest and nothing much less. A fizzing, bright-eyed girl instructed me that if I completed this one, I might by no means should do one other one. However that was the precise downside: I desperately needed to do one other one, and do it higher.

As I sat there, watching the ladies who had been behind me flood into the help station, I selected to be taught from and be impressed by them. Subsequent time, I too can be marching neatly towards the snacks, deciding on precisely what I wanted with nimble fingers and laughing with the volunteers.

The time it takes to run an ultramarathon is a extremely very long time. It’s a very long time to be sad. I’m not speaking concerning the regular ebbs and flows, the crushing low factors, the ache cave or bonking. I imply basically having an atrocious day. I’d felt cripplingly low for 10-plus hours by this level. There was no method I used to be getting back from the useless. I had realized sufficient and there was nothing to be gained from me carrying on. It will solely impede my probabilities of doing this once more quickly, and doing it how I needed to.

In case your foremost objective is to complete the race, then you shouldn’t drop simply since you’re having a nasty day. But when the wheels haven’t solely come off, however they’ve rolled into the river and been swept out to sea, and also you’ve nonetheless bought 30 miles to go, you’re allowed to throw within the soggy towel.

I wish to normalize dropping from a race simply since you really, truthfully don’t wish to proceed. I need a model of this sport the place there is no such thing as a glory within the demise march — not in case you don’t need it. Individuals instructed me I’d be kicking myself for dropping. I by no means, ever did. You understand why? As a result of that is what my pals additionally mentioned:

“That was an important coaching run. You’ll get it subsequent time.”

I gave myself a while earlier than I booked the subsequent try to verify I’d go into it with the best physique and thoughts. Three months later, I used to be on the beginning line for the 2023 North Downs Approach 100 Mile, a hillier course that higher suited my soul. I went out at a extremely conservative tempo, and over the course of the day, I moved up the rankings. Within the last 10 kilometers, kicking with the whole lot I had left, I overtook a lady to place myself on the rostrum. I completed in third place and in simply over 23 hours.

Lydia Thomson - 2023 Centurion Running North Downs Way 100 Mile - finish line

Lydia Thomson crossing the end line on the 2023 North Downs Approach 100 Mile, her first 100-mile end.

Retribution feels fairly nice. It feels significantly nice as a result of this was what I needed to be able to. All I needed was to complete sturdy. However the place does that go away the DNF?

One of the crucial placing issues about Sally McRae’s latest movies — “Each Step Ahead” and “Racing Tahoe” — is the style wherein she relentlessly pushes on. Her toes are principally falling off and her abdomen is fully failing her for miles of the races, however nonetheless she strives. Likewise, listeners to Dylan Bowman’s account of his 2023 Hardrock 100 on the Freetrail podcast will likely be left completely awestruck that he completed that race in any respect. It’s an astonishing journey of the thoughts.

What is obvious in each of those instances is that they’d a robust “why” for ending. They’d the next function. And certainly, if somebody had mentioned to me, “You could end this race for the sake of the illustration of ladies on this sport,” I wish to assume that I might have rallied for this function.

By the way, in the course of the 100 miler that I did end, I used to be on my interval, and had a low level after I realized it was 10 miles till the subsequent rest room the place I might discreetly change. And I had cramps. Simply as I used to be knee deep in sulking, none apart from Sophie Energy — founding father of the group SheRACES — ran previous me in the wrong way, waving and smiling on a coaching run.

Instantly my fully manageable concern paled into insignificance. I used to be not alone with this downside on this world. I used to be experiencing one thing that she was actively working to make higher. It was simply the tinder I wanted to give up my pity occasion and begin preventing once more.

That’s what resolve felt like. That’s what I couldn’t entry the primary time. Maybe that is the marker of success or failure.

I believe I might solely do any of this due to the DNF. I’m grateful for it. Settled in my new house within the weeks after the race, and again operating the paths, I used to be grateful that I saved my legs the agony of that further 30 miles. For me — and perhaps for you — dropping was the best respect I might have proven to my thoughts, physique, and objectives that day.

I’m on this for the lengthy haul. I’m all in.

Name for Feedback

  • Have you ever had any DNFs that you just don’t remorse or are grateful for?
  • The place do you draw the road in deciding it’s time to give up?



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here