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The Unspoken Rules of Being a Badass: A Runner's Guide

The Dreaded Ds

I’ve been thinking about the Dreaded Ds lately: DNF (did not finish), DNS (did not start), and DFL (dead f@#king last).

I have a 50 Miler coming up that is freaking me out just a little bit (ok, a lot). I knew when I signed up for it that it would be a big STRETCH for me but I did it anyway. Sometimes, I feel so overwhelmed by it that I think maybe I shouldn’t run it. Maybe I’m not ready. Maybe I need another year of ultras under my belt before I tackle a 50 Miler with 12,000+ feet elevation gain. But no, I WILL show up on race day and I WILL give it my all. Whatever happens, happens. However, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about a DNF.

Luckily, I haven’t had a DNS for any of my races yet. But it could happen. It would be disappointing but injuries or family commitments may interfere and you have to go with what life throws at you. Sometimes, that means missing a race.

I’m not worried about being DFL either. It’s a possibility. I’ve been last before. It’s hard on the ego. Really hard. Especially when you think you’re all that and a bag of dark chocolate chips and then find out you’re not. But I can live with a DFL as long as I know I did my best.

The DNF though…I think it would depend on the reason. If it happened because of an injury…okay. If it happened because I gave up or quit because it was too hard…not okay. If it happened because I missed a course cut-off…I don’t know how I’d feel about that. THAT is what I’m most worried about.

I was curious to see what everyone else thought and I posted a poll on Twitter – Which of the Dreaded Ds do you fear the most: DNF, DNS, or DFL? 40 people responded and these are the results:

DNF – 18

DNS – 13

DLF – 6

The other 3 people responded with DNSU (did not sign up), DNS (did not sleep which could cause one of the 3 above), and MA (monkey attack – which is an issue at this marathon).

I was a little surprised that DNF & DNS were so close. It seems that those who’d had injuries in the past or missed races for whatever reason would rather DNF than not race at all. It seems like the longer the distance you try, the more you have to accept the possibility that DNFs happen or at least ultrarunners seemed more accepting of it. Those that chose DNF said it was because they didn’t want to quit or break a commitment to themselves. DFLs…they didn’t say but I’m sure you can guess why.

I suppose which one you dread most depends on your running experiences so far and what you have/haven’t dealt with in a race. Good to know. I guess the only “D” we should worry about is DNT (did not try). As long as we train and try to get to the start, try to do the best we can, and try to finish…that’s all that really matters.

But I still would rather not have a DNF!

What about you? Do you dread one of the 3 or have you accepted they are a part of racing?

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This post was written by:

- who has written 717 posts on Run It Fast®.

Lisa (RIF Club Member #5) has completed 27 half marathons, 13 marathons, 5 50Ks, 2 12 Hour races, and 1 100K. Her favorite races to date are the Disneyland Half Marathon, the Leading Ladies Marathon, the Bataan Memorial Death March, and the Jackson Jackass 50K. You can follow her on Twitter @runlikeacoyote

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2 Responses to “The Dreaded Ds”

  1. LifeisaRun says:

    I do think this is hard to answer because it can kind of depend. BUT I also think the race that you were DFL was a SMALL race so you are actually still are all that and a bag of dark chocolate chips!! I think that a DNS sucks if it’s something other than injury or family commitment – like you just gave up on yourself. And with DNF – if it’s because of an injury or you got out there and tried that’s totally admirable! A DNF that ultimately means you are listening to your body and taking care of yourself over finishing a race that could cause more harm to your body is a smart DNF. Lots of if’s in this topic for me!

  2. Monkey Trent says:

    Some marathons also have runners who end up with DNL, AKA MA.

    (did not live, also known as monkey attacks)

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