DNF? Know your limits!

Base on official result of recent Malaysia Women Marathon 2017, 8% of the Full Marathon participants and 1.5% of the Half Marathon participants did not finish (DNF) the race.

DNF or do not finish is something that every runner would try to avoid during races. Even those who are injured or suffering from cramps would try to walk towards the finish line. Some may say they are heroes, some would say that they are hurting themselves. But, as for me,..I wouldn’t want to arrive the finish line by an ambulance.

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Reach finishing line within cut off time is every runner’s aim 😉

I have participated in 9 Half Marathons (21km), 12 Full Marathons (42km) and 4 Ultra and alhamdulillah, I finished them all strong.

DNF may occur for a few reasons, and I would like to share with you the common four  and how to avoid them.

1. Lack of training and experience

If you have never trained for a long run; 15km, 20km, don’t even register for a Half Marathon, or even a Full Marathon. Know your limits. As for me, before I join a 10km run, I would run 10km 3-4 times a week. Once satisfied with the timing, I would join a competitive running event. Same goes with the Half Marathon. After I have trained for 21km distances, only then I’d join an event. As for 42km (Full Marathon), I started to join after running 8 Half Marathons. I joined Ultra after I have completed 9 Full Marathons. The point here is you need to have a lot of training and experiences from every single run that you join before you upgrade yourself to another longer distance.

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I try to run 10km at least , 3-4 times a week to maintain my stamina. 🙂

2. You don’t fuel yourself enough 

Some may DNF due to electrolyte imbalance; they may experience cramps or vomiting after half way, and this leads to dehydration. Some may have stomachache, due to spicy food they eat the night or day before. To avoid these problems, do take a lot of fluid ; drink a lot of water, isotonic drink a week before the event to ensure you hydrate well. Eat extra amount of carbohydrate and protein too. On the day of the event or a day before, avoid spicy food. As for me, if the event starts at 4am, my last meal the night before would be at 8pm and if after 8pm, I would take bananas and water. If you eat enough prior to the race, you don’t even need any energy bar/energy gel during the race. Your body is already prepared to use up all the glycogen to transform into glucose once you are in state of starving.

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Fuel yourself enough before and after race.

3. You don’t plan your run

Strategy is very important in every race. As for me, for a 21 km race, I would try to finish the first 10km within my usual time – 1 hour. And then, the next 11 km dragged to 1 hour 10 minutes. If it rains or if the route is tough or if I experience a cramp, I would still finish within 2 hours 30 minutes, InsyaAllah. If you continue slow jog or power walk for the last 5-8 km, you could finish under 3 hours, as long as you run your best the first 10-15 km. As for Full Marathon, my personal best is 4 hours and 57 minutes. My strategy is, I would aim my first 10km within 1 hour  to 1 hour 10 minutes and next 10km within 1 hour 20-30 minutes. So, my first 21km would be at least 2 hours 30 minutes, the slowest. If you maintain 1 hour 30 minutes (pace- 9min/km) for another 2 sets of 10km, InsyaAllah you can finish under 5 hours and 30 minutes. If you can push yourself enough, you would make it within 5 hours and 15 minutes. Last year, I finished my full marathon SCKLM in 5 hours 16 minutes, read my experience → https://blog.nashata.com/?p=6391

Full Marathon at Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon 2017

Full Marathon at Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon 2016

4. Not enough rest

Lack of rest and sleep will affect your performance at the race. This issue is not strange if you go for runcation (run + vacation). The tips here is go to the place earlier (1-2 days earlier) so that you can rest well before the race. You will not be in a rush and have more time to calm down and focus during the race.

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Having enough rest is the key for you to recover well after the race.

DNF is better than DNS (Do Not Start). So, whatever challenges there may be, let’s plan ahead and pray for injury-free and pleasant races. After all, what’s is the most important is TRAINING. Train hard, believe in yourself and with that, InsyaAllah, you will finish strong and happy.

Till then, keep running and be inspired!

Lessons Learned! Full Marathon before or after Midnight

3 months after my last Full Marathon (Kuching Marathon) in August, I came back again for my 11th Full Marathon, this time at the Putrajaya Night Marathon (PNM). The PNM was my first time running FM late evening at 8pm. All the FM that I’ve joined previously started pass midnight 12.30am – 2.00am.

Why was it a concern to me, whether it started late evening or pass midnight? A late evening run is not a good idea as the cortisol level in our body is reduced when it approaches our usual bed time, and it will be maximised after we wake up early morning. Cortisol is a stress hormone that function for catabolic reaction – it increases the glucose concentration in the blood to make more energy readily available to the muscles. So, for running, we need more cortisol right?

And I was thinking like,..why not run, ..let’s give it a try!

And the drama began…

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After I finished my Obstetrics and Gynaecology EOP Examination, I flew from Kuching to Kuala Lumpur for PNM. It becomes habitual for me to run a Full Marathon after the exams as a reward for all the struggles and stress I faced through. And yes!, I’d rather run hundreds of kilometres for one night compared to sitting for exams which I do not know what case will I get. Hahaha..;)

Putrajaya Night Marathon was previously known as BSN Putrajaya Night Marathon. Like other major races, there were 42km, 21km, 10km, and 5km categories. My category was 42km Women Open. A friend once said, “She is not Nahsuhah, if she joins a race below  42km.” hahaha,..yup! I love full marathon very much. I hate going back to Kuching without blister and muscle sore,..yeah! Pain is addictive!

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Look at the route, guys! Such a longgggg way,..and we had to turned back at the same route..and passed by those dash Kenyan…So torturing!

The event started at 8pm with 42km category. It was drizzling for the first 30 minutes after flag off and the road was wet. I started with slow pace; my first 10km was about 1 hour and 15 minutes. And yes, that was slow. Usually, my 10km is about 1 hour. The route was all the way,… along the highway in Putrajaya. Such never ending, hilly route and it really challenged my mental and physical state.

My next 10km was even slower as I approached the flyovers and hilly highway. People around me started to walk and it tempted me too. I brisked walk  uphill and run at a slow pace after that. I was doing 2 hours 35 minutes for the first 21km.

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Am I right? It did looked like never ending, ..and let’s run without thinking where will it lead to…but, I can’t!

When those Kenyan runners started to passed by us at the U turn, and I was just too far away from them, and their strike was like,.. full of energy and effortless, with great posture, they even don’t stopped at the water station,.. I just feel like, I’m a small stupid tortoise, with short heavy legs, trying to finish this crazy race. Nah! I pulled myself back together immediately. I was not competing with them, I was competing with myself who really wanted to leisure walk throughout the route.  Glad I didn’t though.

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I love water station! *Big hugs*

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Thank you guys for cheering us up and the support …If I were you, I would be back for a good sleep..teheeee 😉

My motivation was the water stations. I would keep running and sometimes walking (yes,very fast) till I reach the next water station. That night, it was hot and humid. I drank a lot of water and sweat a lot too. It felt like running during the day except no sun.

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I WANT IT TO BE 2.1KM PLEASE!

The first 21km was a crazy long run, until I started to passed by the ‘teens’ numbers; 19km, 18km,etc..I was so happy. I bet everyone felt the same, right? Heee..

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I wish I could run to the airport and take a flight to Kuching, and….the race suddenly ENDed! Pheww..

I admitted having lack of training prior to this event. I always have a short run everyday, about 5km per day which is not enough if you want to prepare for a Full Marathon. Supposedly I had to do a session of 20 to 30km Long,Slow Distance (LSD) a week before the event but I was not able to as I was busy with exams.

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Afterall, I finished my full marathon with no injury and of course,..looking elegant! yayyy! I was wearing Nashata Black Compression Pants.

I finished my 11th Full Marathon with official timing 5 hours and 38 minutes. Although it was not my personal best, I’ve learnt my lessons. It is essential to do Long Slow Distance (LSD), 20km to 30km , a week before the event so that you are prepared physically and mentally.

And now I know I prefer to run pass midnight or early in the morning when my cortisol is higher. Towards bed time, our cortisol will be reduced and after we wake up early morning, the cortisol level is at its peak. Thus, running early in the morning is the best for performance.

For the beginners, don’t limit yourself. Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go. So, train hard, eat well, hydrate adequately, run at your own pace and enjoy those moments. No matter how slow you are, our destination is still the same, which is the finishing line.

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She is in her 50s and she ran 21km that night..Congrats! And she cheered for me at the finishing line 😉 Thank you Opah! Heeee

Life have its up and down, same goes to running. If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to experience a different life, run a marathon.

Till then, keep running and be inspired!