Do you dropout of the marathon when you are having a bad day? (Read 252 times)


Consistently Slow

    It boggles my mind when I hear someone say they dropped out of a race because it was not going their way. A runner on the local track team said " I stopped running marathons because I could no longer place".. I heard " since I can not win why should I run". Another runner said " I only run races with prize money".The only time I see an elite runner is when they pass me on my early start. Some run for glory. Some run for for passion. I fall into the latter group. In which group are you? Is there a middle ground group?

    Run until the trail runs out.

     SCHEDULE 2016--

     The pain that hurts the worse is the imagined pain. One of the most difficult arts of racing is learning to ignore the imagined pain and just live with the present pain (which is always bearable.) - Jeff

    unsolicited chatter


      I never have but I can see where it could make sense for someone with a very specific goal. Put me down as un-boggled on this one.

      Runners run.

      Still kicking

        41 marathons, and I've had some good, and some really bad, but never quit. But my livelihood doesn't depend on it, and I have no sponsors to keep happy. But if I was racing for a paycheck, and having a bad day, I could totally understand pulling the plug and cutting my losses. That way I could recover quicker, and get back to work on the next race.

        I'm also on Athlinks and Strava

        Demon of Bad Decisions

          But if I was racing for a paycheck, and having a bad day, I could totally understand pulling the plug and cutting my losses. That way I could recover quicker, and get back to work on the next race.


          If you pull the plug then you can recover quicker and get back to work on the next race even if you aren’t earning a paycheck.  

          I want to do it because I want to do it.  -Amelia Earhart



            I’m not sure I understand exactly what the OP is asking. The question in the title and the first sentence is regarding dropping out of a race if you are having a bad day. Then all the examples are of people who don’t race at all - a completely different thing. Also it seems ridiculous to state that top-placing runners have no passion.


            Anyway people do all kinds of things for all kinds of reasons, so I am also in the unboggled category. I have never dropped out, but I can understand why one would do so.



              In these days of social pressure sometimes dropping out is the brave and smart thing to do.

              Seattle prattle

                I'll take a shot at it here. I think the OP is asking - do you have to be assured of a chance of placing/winning in order to run your marathon? Or can you run it just knowing you will do your best and accept the results nowing you ran with heart? Or is there also some hybrid of the two where you don't have to have some level of assurance of success but can still go the distance regardless.

                Seattle prattle

                  I'll be honest. I don't think i would run a marathon unless i felt i was in at least BQ (Boston Marathon Qualifier) shape. So far, that hasn't been a real stretch for me, but after my poor time at BM 2018 when I didn't BQ, i really wouldn't want to go to the bother if I couldn't make that cut-off.

                  That's just me, and I don't care what anyone else thinks of that. You asked and that's exactly what it comes down to for me.

                    If you are an elite runner with a goal of winning or placing it makes sense to drop out. You can only run so many marathons a year, especially at that high pace, so the strategy is quit if you are not doing well and save it for another attempt. The same is true to a lesser extent for someone trying to finish below a specific time, although in that case they could also just slow to an easy pace just to finish. Of course many of us run with the goal just to finish the distance. In my own experience my worst marathon was run on a 90 degree day in early May. All my training was in cold weather, my long run of 22 miles was a week before in chilly rain. I got to the halfway point in the marathon and just could not run anymore. I walked most of the remaining distance but did jog the last half mile just so I would not be seen walking over the finish. My time was over 5 1/2 hours, but at least I was fast enough not to be pulled off the course and placed on the straggler bus or finish above the cut off for an official time.

                    "My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.” 


                      The woman who won our local marathon last week placed 2nd in another city the week before.  FWIW.

                      Nothing so needs reforming as other people's habits.
                      - Mark Twain


                        No, i've had plenty of bad days at marathons (usually because i've not trained enough, and i've pretty much known I wouldn't have a good day, before the start) 
                        I did drop out of one where i'd been carrying a knee niggle for a few days and decided that if I had the slightest flare up i'd drop out (17-miles, and about as far from the finish as possible on that course) and that was the sensible option, but never from just having a tough day at the office.

                        In fact the most fun I have had at a road marathon was a bad day, by 19 I knew it was over, so I just enjoyed the crowds. Admittedly London is a bit busier than some races for that.

                          I have run 12 full marathons, and BQ'd once.  Last year's marathon did not go well.  I ended up walking the last six miles, and finished in five hours.  Recovery was quick and easy.  An all out race effort would have got my time down to about 4:45 (it was a really bad day), at the cost of misery and a longer recovery.


                          I have finished every marathon I ever started, but a couple were really slow.

                            depends on the goal etc...


                            if you're trying to place etc... I could see, dropping and living to fight another day, maybe race again sooner than if you just toughed it out.


                            as for most marathon mortals...

                            if i wasn't injured... I would complete the race.


                            If I really felt injury coming or was injured, etc... I would certainly drop and live to fight another day.


                            I had a friend whose knee felt bad or got hurt at like mile 6 and toughed it out til completion... bad call!

                            they had problems for a long time following...


                            I do feel some probably tough it out at all costs when dnf might be the wiser call.



                            this post reminds me of shot putters....who don't like their throw...and touch the board so it won't count, which is BS IMO.

                            300m- 37 sec.



                              I had a friend whose knee felt bad or got hurt at like mile 6 and toughed it out til completion... bad call!

                              they had problems for a long time following...



                              I had “a friend” like that too.




                                I do mostly ultramarathons and have DNF'd a few...one where I developed heat exhaustion and another where my back was screaming and there were 30+ mph winds and I risked permanent damage. I'll put my health first but if it's just mentally a tough day I soldier on.  I'm as far from elite as one can be....queen of the DFL.

                                2019 Events

                                KS Rails to Trails Extravaganza 50k, Ottawa, KS Oct 26, 2019

                                KUS 12 Hour, Wichita, KS Nov 9, 2019


                                2020 Events

                                Lhotse 24 hour challenge, Owasso, OK Mar 14, 2020 - 50 miles

                                Temptation 200, Forest City, IL Sept 5, 2020 - 100k