OK, I write a blog which is an honest reflection of what goes on in my mind when I DNFed. I put it out there that most DNFs are of a similar nature and then my blog gets hit more than it ever has done before. More than running into New York, more than finishing Badwater, more than my three Spartathlon finishes combined and more than this video.
I asked for comments and I got lots confirming my hypothesis that most DNFs are lazy and cowardly. There are a number of reasons that lead up to being in this mindset and I seek to find answers and strive for this to never happen again. To do this I need to train harder and read much more about what goes on in the head. I am really interested to discover all that it takes to maintain mental toughness to get through physical efforts like this. This is going to be a journey.
However I believe I have uncovered at least one element to the solution. I think there is at least one thing that can be changed fairly quickly and even without much effort on my part. The problem is, in fact, it's you lot. It's all my friends and all the people who read and comment on this blog and on facebook. You are all too "nice".
Before I alienate some people here, I LOVE ultra running and most of the ultra runners I know. My life has improved massively since I ran my first, mostly because of my ever expanding circle of friends who are really keen on challenging themselves, pushing limits and having adventures. I am thrilled that this is my hobby and you are my friends more so than being involved in anything else.
But I think we have become to regard our own group too highly in comparison with others (non-ultra runners) and also being too soft on each other when things go wrong. Not a day goes by when some patronising "WE ARE ULTRA RUNNERS WE ARE AWESOME" meme is posted on facebook instructing us that every run we do we are still lapping everyone on the couch or some such vomit inducing drivel. It seems there is a movement to seperate those who do ultra running as a hobby into "us and them". That's how war starts.
It gets worse. I think the worst consequence of this is that within this group we have created an environment where we are unduly soft on each other as if we are protecting ourselves from the "others". Like politicians all bungling together whenever someone is caught with his pants down in Clapham Common or yells Pleb at a Policeman we seem to all offer support and encouragement when perhaps a telling off is required.
Gemma (my wife) who was out at the Spartathlon supporting said that if she was there when I DNFed I probably wouldn't have. She was asleep and if she was there she would have said something like "just fucking grow a pair and get on with it" but instead I was listening to you lot telling me I am still awesome and I have already beaten this race before and only I know whether it is the right decision.
If those voices were saying things like "are you really that bad?" or "stop f****g moaning and get over the mountain" I might have carried on, I might have got out of it. I might have finished.
Obviously I can't blame you for the things I invent that you say in my own head. What goes on in my head is my responsibiliy and I need to manage that better.
So the first thing I am going to do is to encourage people to be harder on me with feedback on what I am doing. I know most facebook updates contain what are know as "Ulterior transactions" where you say one thing but want someone to read another. You say "I am terribly gutted by my DNF, I am weak, I am pathetic I am going to quit running". What is actually said in an ulterior way here is "please tell me I am awesome, that I am still better than you, that I can bask in the shadow of yesterdays glory". Those will be the first dozen comments on any such post. Why not just wade in there with "yeah, you are probably right. What are you going to do about it?"
There was an interesting story in the Spectator yesterday about how Doctors are feeling that they can not call a patient "Obese" because it might hurt thier feelings. There is no doubt that this will lead to more obesity. I believe the same to be true of DNFs, the more we pussy foot around as to the reasons people quit the more we will do it.
If you break a leg or get some kind of heat shock then yes, that is a valid reason for not finishing. You shouln't run yourself to death. But I ask others to ask others really what went on when they DNFed, stop being so bloody nice to each other. It's not helpful.
What do you think of this post? Tell me it's awesome.