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What Happens When You Get Injured Right Before Race Day

To DNS, or not to DNS. That is the question. (DNS = did not start)

Three days before my spring half marathon, I found myself in the precarious position of trying to decide if I’m going get a DNS (did not start) for this race or not. What was barely a twinge in my foot last week has suddenly turned into full-blown pain. It’s time to do a difficult thing. I had to admit to myself that I officially have an injury.

There are several reasons why taking a DNS can be the right thing to do, but making that decision isn’t always easy.

Do I push through the pain and race anyways? No.

Do I alter my race plans and run/walk the race instead? Maybe.

Do I run the race, but promise to drop out if the pain increases? Probably not, a DNF might be worse than a DNS.

I’ll admit I’m angry that a few days ago I could run pain free and now all of a sudden I can’t even walk without pain, despite doing everything right like seeing a physical therapist.

I know it’s not a big deal. There will be other races. I will recover from this injury and go on to run again, but if I really do take a DNS, I will definitely be a disappointment.

If you find yourself in the same predicament, trying to decide if you should tough it out and run the race or take a DNS, here are the guidelines I’ll use to make my decision.

Reasons to DNS

  • I can run without pain only if I compromise my running gait.
  • I am questioning whether or not I should be running the race. I know when I’m not injured, so if I’m questioning my injury status, then I must be injured!
  • I’m in pain while walking or running.

Reasons to run the race

  • I magically am able to run pain free.
  • My pain level is no higher than a 3 on a scale from 1-10 and doesn’t seem to get worse while running.

Ultimately, missing a race is never fun, but running a race while injured or in pain is never a good idea. Missing one race will hopefully mean healing quicker and being able to get back out on the road asap!

More From Race Pace Jess
So You Want To Run A Half Marathon—Now What?
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Race Pace Jess

Race Pace Jess

Jess Underhill fell in love with running during a rough patch in life, a time period most people just refer to as middle school. Twenty-six years later that first runner's high she experienced continues to shape nearly every aspect of her life, including her career. She has a Master's Degree in Exercise Science and Health Promotion, is graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and is a UESCA Certified Run Coach. Most recently Jess launched Race Pace Run Club, a free virtual run club that welcomes runners of all levels from coast to coast and also meets in-person in NYC. She is an ambassador for Sparkly Soul Headbands