Did Not Fail

Ahhhhhh, Fall! For most of us runners, Fall = running season. Cooler mornings, a race every single weekend until Christmas, and the threat of holiday weight gain urging us to employ our running shoes more frequently.

For many runners, it also means having our sights set on the finish line at some marathon or another.

NYC Marathon Finish Line. Mecca, for a lot of us.

16 weeks of training (or more), weekend after weekend of long runs, the shame of having to wear compression socks to the grocery store on Saturday afternoons, and more attention to our glutes than most of us like to admit culminates with 26.2 miles of foot-stomping fun.

But sometimes it doesn’t.

Sometimes a runner’s dream is dashed only weeks before the Big Race. Tendonitis, pulled muscles, stress fractures, catch-all joint syndromes, and mystery pains can keep the most seasoned marathoner from toeing the line this Fall. The dreaded DNF.

DNF usually stands for Did Not Finish. I hate this acronym. There’s an innate sense of failure in the wording that brings about feelings of deep shame to the individual whose name bears these three little letters on the runner roster.

But DNF doesn’t tell the whole story, nor is it the final chapter in your running book.

It takes courage to defer or call it a day. When you know your body can’t take any more, that running further or for more weeks would only be detrimental to your long term health, DNF-ing or deferring is SMART. In fact, it takes a smarter, more seasoned runner who knows their limits to call it a day.

The smart runner knows when it’s over.

The smart runner knows that one race does not define them.

The smart runner knows there will be more.

The smart runner knows when to ask for help.

The smart runner knows the difference between good pain and bad pain.

The smart runner pushes the limits and is ok when, occasionally, they fail.

The stupid ones (yes, I called you stupid) push through the bad pain and force themselves on the course simply for their own ego. You know where ego gets you? The orthopedic surgeon’s office and then the PT’s clinic for months and months in excruciating pain. Sounds fun, right?

To all of you who have called it a season, despite having paid for a marathon entry this Fall, I salute you. You are smart and brave and I applaud you for taking care of yourself, knowing there will be other races for you to rock.

Have you ever deferred or had to DNF? How did you feel then? How do you feel now? Are you considering a deferment this year? Share with us!

Now go out and run!

Better Than The Alternative Tuesdays: Failure

I didn’t used to try things if I knew there was a chance I might fail. The few times I did were usually auditioning for a musical role and not getting it, but that happened to everyone in college so it wasn’t nearly as devastating. No, I played it safe and did what I knew I could do. Bor-ing! And pathetic.

These days, I do my best to try things where I may very well fail and fail spectacularly. And it’s kind of awesome, actually. And worth doing, which is why it’s our BTTA┬átheme today. Failure is totally an option and should always be an option.

If you’re not failing, you’re not really trying.

This is true in my academic/professional life and my fitness life. I’ve done yoga since college, but I have tried more classes, poses, teachers in the past two years than all thirteen years of practicing added up. I have fallen out of poses, spent a good portion of class in child’s pose and invited friends (who became juuuuust a little closer friends after being seen with me in public during and after a class) to witness my often ungraceful yoga practice in public. Oh, God bless your souls, dear friends.

I have also undertaken the challenge of my career: going back to school for my DPT. My, oh my, this is something I could very well fail over and over at. But I will keep on trying because, as my husband says, “It’s not that you can’t learn it, you maybe just need to learn it in a different way than the professor is teaching. You’re smart!” I, by the way, do not really consider myself smart, rather, I am a hard worker and willing to learn. Maybe that’s better? I have absolutely no ego about school at all. Anyway, I gotta tell you, that B that I earned in Chemistry was sweeter than any other accomplishment in my entire life. As my aunt, the boss of all of us, about my reaction: tears, shock and then jumping up and down on the cell phone with JB and the Obi-wans. Seriously, it was HUGE. And hard-fought and I almost failed. Really, I did.

Same with Calculus. I was saved by my work ethic and my willingness to ask for help from a very kind professor. The opportunity to fail is everywhere for me.

Even here on my blog. It’s been almost three months and I wasn’t sure anyone (besides the Obi-wans and all 50 of my close family members) would bother to read this. I would publicly fail and it would live forever on the Internet. Having all you fine people read is an honor and I do a little dance every time I read a comment or someone clicks on my page.

Putting yourself out there to fail is terrifying. But when you try your absolute hardest and the chance that you might fail is so real, when you succeed, it’s incredibly rewarding. I can’t even describe the feeling. It’s like a runner’s high. And it’s definitely a reason why it’s better to be here than there.

Try. Try hard and be willing to fail. Explore your edges and be vulnerable to failure. Run harder. Tackle some crazy obstacle. Do something that scares you.

As a final thought, I’d like to leave you with one of my all-time favorite athletes in one of my all-time favorite ads:

Preach.

Now go out and run!!