Dealing with the dreaded DNF

Dealing with the dreaded DNF

At some stage in our sporting endeavors, we have to deal with failure...

It may be missing a time goal or even worse, dealing with the dreaded "Did Not Finish".

In this video, Brad and Coach Markus talk about how to pick up the pieces when things don't go according to plan...

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Welcome on to the next edition of RUN with Coach Parry. I'm Brad Brown, we've got our running coach Markus van Niekerk with us. And today we are talking about DNF - did not finish. The dreaded three words, particularly around the Comrades marathon and I speak from experience, unfortunately, missed the cut off a few years ago, in my first attempt. I've gone back and finished it, but I know exactly how it feels. And it is devastating to the person that it happens to, you feel like you've let everyone down. But the urge to go back is pretty strong, I'm sure. And we've had this question a few times across our various platforms over the last few days. And I thought I'd get Markus on to address it. Markus, welcome back, nice to touch base once again.

How's it Brad, thanks so much.

Markus, it's a great question and I think it's one that we don't talk about often enough, we often share the successes and what people are doing well and what went right. But the sad reality is for just over, I think it was 13% of the Comrades field in the last edition, have a DNF next to their name. So they started the race, but for whatever reason didn't make it to the finish line. Or they missed cutoffs along the way. Dealing with a DNF is tough. How does someone approach it going forward? They want to go back next year? Is it a case of right back on to the waggon or onto the horse so to speak and start training as hard as you can? Or do you need to be sensible about it and build up slowly?

So, Brad, for me it comes down to, well, the first question I'd ask myself, and that I suggest the listeners do as well, is why, what happened? Were you sufficiently trained and you had some other hiccup on the day? I don't know, whether it was stomach issues, or cramps or the slight injury you picked up just before the race? If it's any of those? I'd suggest you need to, well, first I'd, like I said, figure out what it is and then you need to address it. So if it was stomach issues, was it because of nutrition? Was it because you tried something new on race day that you never do in your long runs? Those things obviously play a role.

If it was as a result of an injury, those are things that you need to address now in order to, well once you've recovered fully, to start slowly but surely picking up on your training again, start maybe working on your shorter, faster distant races in your build up to Comrades. But most importantly, is if you have figured out what was the reason for the DNF is 100%. Make sure that you get to the bottom of it. If it was as a result of your training that wasn't 100% we've got more than enough different programmes on our website. And we have so many success storys, and it would be really unwise not to go to one of those programmes, chat to us in the forum, we'll put you on the right programme and just follow the programme.

If so many people can do it successfully by just following the programme. I'm sure that a big percentage can also do that. Sure, not everyone's always going to finish the race. But just do your homework, find out what would be the best programme for you. Like I said, find out what your reason was for your DNF. But most importantly, if there's something that needs to be changed, going forward, change it, but base your findings or base your decision on certain things that you either find out from us in the forum, or from another reliable source, but it's important to have a plan moving forward.

And I mean, I understand and I agree 100% for me, it must be super hard to have a DNF and I'm sure it's something that is not easy to deal with. But fortunately, there's a race every year and one can change, well if you could learn from your lessons, you can certainly, then it's worth having those learning curves.

Yes Markus, the post mortem of the race I think is vital because things went wrong or didn't go according to plan and that was the reason why someone would have a DNF. So analyzing what went wrong and looking at what worked is important, but also not then making those same mistakes again, and often we see that and I made this mistake too, Markus, Comrades is tough. And even if you missed one of the cut offs, let's say you got to 60 odd k's or you got to the last road as an example, it's still you've run an ultra. And as much as you want to get back on the horse straightaway, you do need time to recover and you need to let your body recover so even though you want redemption, you do need to back off slightly before you go full tilt back into training for your next Comrades.

Yeah, for me, the most important part is, so obviously you did or something went wrong or you did something wrong in order to not finish the race, so you need to start the next phase right and for me, starting the next phase right is giving your body sufficient rest. If you don't give your body sufficient rest, I can guarantee you, you're not going to have a good build up and you might just end up in the same position as you did this year. So giving your body sufficient rest and giving your mind sufficient rest, from also just running and running and running the whole time. That's very important. So physical and mental break from the activity itself. That's super, super vital.

Absolutely. And as Markus said, we've got Comrades training programmes that cover the whole gambit from superfast one, right the way through to Comrades finishers, we've got a Couch to Comrades as well. So if you are fired up by Comrades, and you're not active at the moment, that programme can get you literally off your couch, get you walking slowly, get you running all the way through Comrades next year. So if you'd like to check those out, head over to all the details are there and we look forward to having you on our training platform. Markus, as always great to catch up. Thanks for your time today. And we look forward to chatting again soon.

Thanks, Brad. Keep well, all the best.

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