Monday, January 16, 2012

DNF and the success of "failure"


For those of you who are newer to running DNF = Did not finish. As in I tried to run this marathon but broke a leg at mile 16 and got a DNF.

DNF is a big scary fear I've had and I would venture to say a fear for many of my fellow runners. Why?  Because in my mind (and possibly others) DNF somehow = failure.

The fear of DNF is what motivates us to train, get out there in sub zero weather and plug away at the miles but DNF has an evil side as well. The fear of DNF prevents many of us from even trying.

And DNF isn't just for runners or running. How many things in our lives do we limit ourselves in because of some sort of looming and scary threat of DNF.

For the New Year it struck me that many people are so fearful of "DNF" that they don't even bother to set goals or resolutions at all. More than once I heard, "I don't set goals because then I don't set myself up for disappointment."

There was something profoundly bothersome to me about that type of statement.

I'm not trying to judge, here. Believe me I was once that person as well.

What I've learned is, we have to get over our fear of DNF. DNF fear holds us back. When we aren't willing to fail we limit ourselves and we wind up living lives less of what we are capable of.

Words To Run By
My friend Sara from Words To Run By, didn't let DNF scare her from signing up for the GOOFY challenge in Disney World.  The Goofy challenge is a two day ultra marathon. One day running a half marathon followed by a full the very next day both taking place thru Disney theme parks. This challenge is not for the faint of heart.

Sara trained, she tried and she gave it her all. You need to read her journey of it, it's amazing.  Talk about strength, fearlessness, perseverance, pride, passion.  She completed her first 13.1 on Saturday and started her day two full marathon in pain, with a blister the size of Wisconsin and very little sleep - but she went into it with open arms.  She was an absolute warrior and stotan thru more than 22 miles until her body gave up and the volunteers made the call to take her off the course. She left it all out there. But is Sara sad that she only (ha) completed 35 out of 39 miles? UM no. Nor should she.

35 miles out of 39 - failure?  I think not. Anyone would consider that a triumph and an incredible accomplishment.  A roaring success in my book.

She fearlessly ran with a DNF hanging over her head.  She didn't reach the physical finish line but shit. She had the courage to try.  DNF shouldn't mean did not finish - it should mean - did not fail. We are never failures if we are trying and dreaming big and going for it with gusto. Failure is placing limitations on ourselves.  If Sara decided to "shoot" for a 5K, 10K, or just the half she would've been "successful" in reaching the finish line… but Sara and her "did not fail" got so much more from not being afraid to dream big.

Someone commented on Sara's Facebook page, DNF is better than DNS (did not start) and that is something that will stick with me forever. I will gladly take a DNF over a DNS any day of the week.

Stop being afraid to fail. If you never fail, you're not aiming high enough.

Along the same theme - I saw this amazing video yesterday:

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