Pulling out of a race – when is recording a DNF OK

DNS or DNF?training-calendarMy running schedule for 2016 is pretty much locked in and last weekend signalled Race 3 for my year – Run the Rock. But the day before I was feeling unwell and by Saturday morning, I had a rasping cough, aching limbs, a headache, and serious fatigue.

Making the decision about whether to pull out of a race is tough. I harboured hopes of running this weekend’s 20km right till the moment I needed to get out of bed and my sore throat and aching legs told me it was not my day.

For me, it was easy. I was clearly not going to be able to run. For what made the decision more difficult was that I’d had great preparation. My two runs during taper week had been really solid and I felt ready for a fast (for me) run so pulling out was a great disappointment.

My concerns were around the longer term issues. Miss one race, take a few days off and I’m back on schedule for my real goals – a marathon in June and a 35km trail in August. But push through the race and I might make myself feel worse and miss more training time.

It was timely that a recent article at Runners World UK (DNS or DNF?) provided some good advice – albeit a couple of days too late for me.

Although it is tempting to attempt to ‘get through’ the race at all odds, if you’re really unwell it is not worth putting your health at severe risk.

I went on my first run back today – a very easy 5km. And I was prepared to stop and walk if I didn’t feel well. But it all went well.

My rule of thumb is if I have a temperature and feel achy – I won’t train. Anything else and I play it by ear. If I feel like it’s a minor cold, I’ll usually train and not push too hard. If it’s more severe I’ll take a day off and reassess the next day.

What’s your approach?

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