I’m DNS-ing my Next Race {and I’m Happy About It}

I love races: I enjoy training for them,  pushing myself to my limits as I participate in them, and watching my running friends and coaching clients accomplish so much in their races. But, when a race isn’t right, I’m willing to admit it and not fake my way across the finish line.

 A few friends have asked me about the Jack and Jill Marathon/Half Marathon and whether I still on running it at the end of this month. The easy answer: I’m not. I’m DNSing (Did Not Start). 

(To catch up new readers: I started marathon training for the Jack and Jill Marathon in April, sprained my foot when I slipped on a hike, and then was off of running for a few weeks, which caused me to scrap this marathon and sign up for the California International Marathon in December). 

My first actionable step when I learned my foot was sprained was to email the race directors and request a downgrade to the half marathon.

After some miscommunication from various representatives at the race, I was downgraded to the Jack and Jill half marathon. I was initially optimistic about my return from injury and thought I could possibly swing enough quality weeks in to try for another sub-1:40 half marathon. 

Lake Sammamish Half Marathon Race

But, while I did make a smooth recovery from my sprained foot (with the exception of a week off due to my hamstring acting weird, but it’s been no issue ever since!), I took it slow and easy. I’m not in prime shape for a half marathon. And if I’m not going to give what I perceive as my best, I’m not going to race. 

I know several people who race for fun, and that’s great – but it’s not for me. My competitive side emerges the moment I toe that starting line. The fun in racing for me comes from the sense of accomplishment in running hard, not in simply finishing. 

Honestly, I don’t care about a DNS appearing by my name in the race results or on my Athlinks profile. To me, this DNS symbolizes an ability to listen to my body, make prudent decisions, and not push myself when the time isn’t appropriate. 

A DNS, in the grand scheme of life, is a blip on the radar. Even right now, I really don’t care about it one way or the other. I paid for this race months ago, so it’s not like I’m losing money now. With all of the turmoil in the world right now, I would be downright petty, pathetic, and narcissistic if I upset myself and dwelt over not running one particular race. 

The race is a net downhill course on gravel, which translates to trashed legs and sore feet by the finish line. If this was my goal race, I would take no issue with the course profile, but I start training for the California International Marathon exactly one day after the Jack and Jill Half Marathon. 

I prefer to begin my marathon training rested, eager, and strong, not in starting off in need of recovery. 

Also, can I just say that deep down, I’m lazy? The thought of waking up early, driving 90 minutes or so to the start line, and timing my nutrition, and then running the farthest I would have run since April sounds like too much work for a weekend. I’d rather sleep in to rest up before I begin the demanding 18 weeks of marathon training, go hiking now that both Ryan and I are finally healed from foot injuries, and relax. 

California International Marathon is going to be a breakthrough marathon for me. I sense it and, even more than that, I believe so – and that belief in oneself and one’s training is what possess the power to turn a race into a personal best.  

Linking up with Thinking Out Loud!

Have you ever DNS’ed a race? How did  you feel about it?
What’s a lazy habit or desire you currently have?
Sometimes lazy behavior is beneficial – most of us are type A runners who will just go and go if we don’t give into our lazy desires.


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35 Responses

  1. I love your mindset shift on this and that you’re able to look at this as a positive, instead of a negative. You’re completely right that it is a sign of listening to your body and following what it’s telling you!

    1. Thank you! You know how I believe and talk about listening one’s body – there are always more races but one is never worth injury or even mental burnout!

  2. I agree that sometimes lazy behavior is beneficial to us type A runners! Definitely when it comes to injury, I think its good be a lazy for a week and jus rest. Usually by then we start going crazy and are ready to start doing rehab exercises and cross training.
    I definitely think it makes sense to skip the half. I had a DNS for a 5k a few weeks ago, and I’m sure there were more over the years but I can’t even remember them at this point!

    1. That’s a good point – I probably won’t even remember this race in several years. I think that week of rest after injury or race is beneficial for us – rest is probably the most difficult aspect of training for many of us!

  3. I could not agree with you more about racing to be competitive and, in your situation, I would have done the exact same thing! I think you’re being really smart and you obviously really know yourself, so I applaud your decision!! You are so much better off resting, sleeping in and getting race ready for your GOAL marathon. It’s yours for the taking!

    Also…what is an Athlinks profile?

    1. Thank you – that means a lot to me! It’s just too much work to suppress that competitive drive, you know? And Athlinks is a site that pulls your race times from all the results and compiles it into one place – almost like a race report card – and it lets you see how you rank against others. I mostly like it to be able to see all my race times in one place.

      1. I had NO clue Athlinks existed but I had 64 “unclaimed” races! How cool!! Thanks for letting me know about that. Love it!

        1. You’re welcome! I think Meredith told me about it a few months ago. Isn’t it so cool – smart idea because it’s such a pain to try to remember race times!

  4. I don’t consider that lazy. you feel that way because you have chosen to not run the race for so many reasons! so because of your decision , the lack of desire for the travel etc isn’t there either. Does that make sense? When your heart is invested, those details are welcomed. You are so not lazy!! :

    1. That’s a good point! We both know how fighting traffic is easier when the desire to do something is there. And I think I need to be lazy for a bit, you know? Like, encourage myself to have a day of no running, hiking, or working, just sit and relax and binge watch Netflix or read.

  5. And I am one of those who can do a half marathon for fun and be okay with it 😀 But then again, I did go out to run a marathon all easy and ended up almost PR’ing. And breaking myself. So I think I’ll say that you are making the right decision!

    1. Thank you! Yeah, I’m sure I could do it for fun, but it being the day before I start marathon training makes it trickier anyway. I like to start training fresh and ready to go!

  6. It’s so funny how different every runner is. I completely respect your decision to DNS, and I hope it helps your recovery! I’m the opposite though, and will do everything possible to get to the start line. I think it’s mostly because I see it as losing out on the money that I put in to the race, and I want to at least finish it and get the medal so I don’t feel like it was a waste of money. It was such a hard decision for me to not run my marathon earlier this year, but I knew that I wasn’t even in shape to run a half at that point, and I didn’t want to be injured when we left for our wedding the next day!

    1. Thank you! Yeah, running a race on a tough course (gravel on 1000 feet downhill is not going to feel good the next day, no matter the pace) the day before I start marathon training just isn’t worth the money for me. I think you made the right decision not to do that race – even without a wedding no one single race is worth injury!

  7. Yeah, I don’t think I could not start a race if I felt like I could finish it BUT I totally understand the listening to your body thing and making that a priority. Lazy habit… just getting started. I’m not a morning person, so I’m not waking up early but that makes it hard at the end of the day too because it’s hot and I’m tired after being at work all day.

    1. Thank you! I do know I could finish it, but I also agree that listening to the body is the top priority – just because you or I or anyone can do something doesn’t mean we should. Mornings are hard, but waking up early and getting the workout in becomes easier over time because it feels so good to get that done before work and be able to rest at the end of the day.

  8. Smart lady! I don’t usually have DNS races because I never register for them until the very last second, but I had one just this past March. We had a very stressful weekend emotionally and I needed to stay home and support my family that day. I was disappointed, sure… but nothing beats the feeling of doing the right thing.

    1. Thank you! You’re smart not to register so far in advance…that was my problem here, I registered in November because it sold out. You were very smart to DNS that one race – family always, always comes first and you’re awesome for prioritizing them.

  9. Sounds like a good move for you in the grand scheme of things. I can fun run if need be, but my competitive side almost always wins out so I can relate to your decision.

  10. DNS = Did Nothing Stupid.

    (I’ve also seen DNF = Did Nothing Fatal).

    I have done races coming back from injury just for fun and with no expectations. I usually did better than I thought, but I was able to tell over the next few days that my body just wasn’t used to the stimulus of racing. I DNSed a race when I was too sick to get out of bed, and I DNSed one where I was scared I would make a niggly hip into a full blown injury if I ran that half. I think it’s really up to the person and their personality, you know yourself better than others. If someone can reign it in and run a half as a training run, kudos to them… same with any race.

    Every runner is different and approaches the race differently- but if you feel like you might get there and DSS (Do Something Stupid), maybe it’s better to go ahead and DNS (Do Nothing Stupid).

    1. I like that! Illness and niggles are two very good reasons to DNS. I agree – kudos to those who have the self-control to rein it in…I’m not one of them.

  11. I haven’t registered yet for my big fall race….because I don’t want to DNS. I’d rather not register if I don’t think it’s going to be a special run. I get it! Way to be mindful!

  12. I applaud you for this! I’ve run some races for fun because it wasn’t a goal race and friends were doing it or it was a race that I was an ambassador for. People keep asking what race am I doing next after Mt. Washington but I wanted my foot to feel 100% better after rolling it pre-race before I signed up for anything else. I don’t want to run a sub-par race just to run a race. I’m ready for a racing race!

    1. Thank you Angela- that means so much! If the race was with friends or as an ambassador that would be a different story – those are commitments that matter beyond running. I’m so glad to hear you’re ready for a racing race and can’t wait to see which one you choose – and I applaud you for letting your foot heal and doing what’s best for you!

  13. I love your attitude about it. It’s not obsessive, and like you said, it’s just a little detail, a tiny detail on the radar. 🙂 And you can always do another! 🙂 I think you made a really good decision. It’s always better to take care of your body.

  14. Props for your self-awareness- knowing that you won’t be able to tone down your competitiveness and opting to recover instead. Your perspective is such a refreshing one. Best wishes on a speedy recovery!

    1. Thank you! Marathon training is always stressful on the body, and sprains can recur if not careful. Caution is always better than injury (or worse, re-injury).

  15. I have a handful of DNS next to my name and sometimes that’s just what happens in life. It’s obviously not the best result, but it happens and it’s far better than running and being injured after. It certainly sucks to lose out on the entry fee, but there are worse things 🙂

    1. That is life – unpredictable and we just have to roll with the punches rather than fight it. No race is always better than injury – and race fees are a small amount of money compared to months of PT bills!

  16. oh I think I will have a DNS next to my name fairly soon too! for this one race that we are definitely not prepared for!!!! I had my doubts when I signed up and I know for sure we are NOT ready for such a hard trail race yet.
    We shall see!

    I think you’re doing an amazing job as a runner to listen to your body and what it needs from you. Positive thinking 🙂

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