This strikes fear into the hear of athletes everywhere. With all the hours…days…months… years… we put into preparation for a race…. Sometimes…. we cannot compete.

If you’re an athlete, you know what I’m talking about. Then again, you’re probably too chicken to keep reading. That’s ok. It won’t happen to you (and De-Nile is a river in Egypt…)

If you’re not, still… you’ve been there. There was a wedding, a party, a graduation, a …. something … which you’ve invested yourself over a long period of time. And you cannot go.

So what’s the big deal?

The big deal is – disappointment, let down, waste, doubt, fear you “missed” that perfect day, perfect time, perfect perfect perfect.

  • It doesn’t matter that we know, as logical beings, that we’ve completely blown this out of proportion.
  • It doesn’t matter that there will likely be other, bigger, better, cooler, funner (yeah, I said it), things in your future.
  • I missed THIS one. Sad. Simple as that. Sad. Nobody seeks sad. Some avoid it at all costs.
  • I wasted money. I wasted time. I wasted family time. Doubt… Doubt is an evil mistress… she eats away at our soul.
  • I won’t be this ready LATER just NOW. Somehow, this magical moment was the best I’ll ever be.
  • I’m letting XXXX down. Whomever XXXX is.
  • Perfect. Somehow, illogically, we decide this was the PERFECT point in time.

How do we decide?

This is a tough one.

The younger you are or newer you are at something the BIGGER of a deal these events are. The more willing you are to throw all logic out the window. Ignore all advice. Plow ahead at all costs. Ignore caution. Risk injury which will sideline you for a long time. I remember these days. Yeah, I did many races in which I had no business showing up. Hacking up a lung… fever… yeah. Dumb. There are only so many times you can roll those dice and no lose.

Is this you?

So here are a few EASY and OBVIOUS DNS signs

  1. Do you have a fever, or have you in the last 24 hours? DNS. Look people, you can DIE exercising with a fever. Not always NO, not even usually, but why the heck risk it?
  2. Did you Doctor tell you NO? DNS (think about it… what do they have to gain by telling you NOT to race?)
  3. Are you injured? DNS (do I have to explain this? No… but I bet many of you ignore it)
  4. Do you have some ache or pain which is changing your form? DNS (by the way, this means you are INJURED see above)
  5. Are you recovering from being sick and still have crap in your lungs? DNS (lung congestion bad. head congestion ok.)
  6. Would racing cost you your job? DNS (hey dummy, how you gonna pay for these?)
  7. Would racing cost you your marriage? DNS (hey dummy, really?)
  8. Will you miss a major life event? DNS (you know, birth of your children… college graduation… your wedding… stuff like that! BTW racing anyway usually means you get a early seating at your funeral, just sayin’)
  9. Are you completely unprepared, physically for this day? DNS this is tough, because DOUBT is there but if I haven’t run in 2 years and I toe up to a marathon…. that’s dumb. RESPECT THE DISTANCE.

Some other DNS considerations…

  • Do you have a coach? If you are lucky enough… talk to them. They will have wiser counsel than you can ever get talking to yourself.
  • Do you have friends? REAL friends… not ones just egging you on. I mean the ones willing to suggest that today… maybe is not your day? But also when to suggest that maybe you are just being a nervous nelly?
  • Can you change gears? Convert a “PERFECT” Race day to a catered training day? (where you show up, but go slow). CAN YOU? It’s harder than you might think. Especially for us guys. We’re not so smart sometimes.
  • Can you defer the entry fee? If you can… then that’s one less excuse. I have to race because I paid…. well, that’s out the window. No you don’t. Most races will allow you to defer for some small fee. You can beg and cry and plead with the Race Director, they’re people too you know. They’d rather have you defer than be hauled off by an ambulance at their race.
  • Can you switch races? If there is a similar distance/venue/type of race, often it makes sense to DNS and sign up for that event instead. Maybe it’s not PERFECT but really… there is no such thing as PERFECT in racing. So many variables you cannot control.

How do we cope?

I don’t have all the answers here. I don’t have many.

I do know, however, it’s very individual. Some people need distraction (that’s me!). Some people need to go and volunteer to help others, so they can still part of the event (I wish this was me). Some need to go spectate and cheer on friends anyway. Some go cry. Some drink.

Eventually… DNS will happen to you. You need to think ahead and expect it will be a hard day. Don’t overload yourself that day and mourn. It’s ok. Try not to be a whiney azz though and ruin everyone else’s day ok? This is your problem, not theirs.

What’s next?

Something that helps me get grounded again is this:

Rejoice and whine not! For today you have done that which others have only dreamed.

Remember, to some people, the fact you almost made it to race day is FAR BEYOND what they think they are EVER possibly able to do. We take it for granted. Don’t. Rejoice in what you have done and realize… there is more to come.

AFTER the mourning period is over…. you need a new day. New goal. New target. Make sure it’s realistic. Don’t just pick a “bigger, badder, cooler” goal. Remember, you didn’t get past this one yet…. steps along the path.

Life is about the journey, not the destination.

Let’s make sure you can get there people…. DNS is one moment in a life filled with millions. Let it go.

Enjoy the journey.

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