What Could Be Worse? Not Finishing Or Not Even Starting?

I have to admit something.

I have a running problem.

And this running problem has gotten U-G-L-Y.

I know that many of you reading this may not be runners so I’ll try not to use too much running jargon but the point overall still remains the same.

See I’ve come down with a case of Achilles Tendonitis.  In plain English, this means that the Achilles tendon running down the back of my lower leg is massively inflamed resulting in swelling, tenderness and pain.  Oh yes, there is pain.

This pain is an excellent reminder of all of the running that I’ve done over the years and most especially of all the challenges that I’ve faced over the last 12 months.  But I’m going to use the lessons that I’ve learned to help all of you see a side of yourself that you may not see.

Oh yes, we’re going to be heading into some juicy territory here.

But before we get there, I’m going to teach you two running abbreviations.

When a runner begins a race but needs to drop out before the race is over due to injury, fatigue, stomach upsets or anything like that, that’s called a DNF.  DNF = Did Not Finish.

When a runner is scheduled to race but doesn’t actually go through with it, again due to injury, fatigue, illness or the like, that’s called a DNS. DNS = Did Not Start.

These six letters can mean a huge blow to any runner’s ego and I’ve experienced both over the last six months.


I DNFed a marathon at the end of May.  I overextended myself, attempting to run 26.2 miles in uncharacteristic hot and humid weather.  My feet were burning, my body was aching and I just couldn’t hold my own during the race.  So at mile 16, I called it.  I quit.  First time in my life that I’ve quit a race.

I’ll admit it, there were tears of frustration.

Then over the last 4 weeks, I DNSed for two different races because of my achilles tendonitis.  I just couldn’t do it.  I knew that if I pushed myself,  I would have ended up majorly injured.

So why do I tell you this?

I’m bringing this up because I’m wondering where in your life you have DNFed or DNSed.

What have you started but failed to finish?

What have you wanted to do, but never showed up for?

More specifically, when it comes to what you most want for yourself, for your health, for your future, where have these infamous letters popped up?

It’s hard to take a honest look back at what you’ve done to admit that you backed off when you should have pushed forward.  It’s hard to admit where you gave up before you even let yourself begin.

But hey, we’re all human.  This kind of stuff happens.  But the trick is to be human and not let this part of ourselves rule our day to day life.

Do you want to see yourself DNF on a regular basis?  Do you want to think of yourself as someone who consistently settles for a DNS?

What will it take for you to step up and see the potential that exists within you?

Okay, so maybe you’re thinking that you’re not the kind of person who settles.  Maybe you’re thinking that you *always* finish what you start.  That’s cool, but follow me on this one.

Have you ever made a New Year’s Resolution?  How did that work out for you?  How long did it stick?

Have you ever joined a gym to get into shape but weren’t able to keep up on your initial excitement & momentum?

Have you ever vowed to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables AND you’ve even went out and bought them only to find them rotting in the back of the fridge?

These are all victims of DNF and DNS syndrome.

I know that I’m guilty of it.  I’m probably more willing to admit how guilty I am of giving up too soon or not showing up for myself at all.

So what do we do about this?  What do we take away from this lesson?

The take-away message here is that we embrace our human-ness but at the time we step up and follow through where we can, finish up old projects if they’re still feasible and, most importantly, we show up for ourselves and are brave enough to begin what we think we cannot.

Because the truth of it all is this: it’s never too late.  It’s never over.  It’s never past the point where you can’t start or finish anything that you’ve set your heart and mind on.

As far as DNF and DNS  goes, they will never be the end of the story.  Neither one will prevent me from lacing up my sneakers again.  My story isn’t over with the challenges of the last 12 months.

And neither is yours.

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