Team Trainright Blog: Gotta know when to fold ’em at a race, by Jon Mullen

By Team Trainright's Jon Mullen

DNF–the acronym that athletes never like to see next to their name on the results sheet. Sometimes, however, removing yourself from the race can be a good thing. While flopping oneself across the finish line (if you're not having a good day) does accomplish the short term goal of finishing the race, it can cause more damage than benefit and set back your training program. 

The Boulder 70.3 started out well for me with a decent swim, and a solid (a little bit too solid) bike. I hit the run pretty hot and hoped my legs would forget about the bike and be able to put some power out running, but that wasn't in the cards today. I was never able to get my core temp down and started feeling really bad about 4mi in with some early signs of heat exhaustion/dehydration (shallow, rapid breathing if I ran anything faster than 10min pace, ears beginning to ring, vision starting to turn black and white). Since it was a 2 lap run course, I decided that while I could stumble around for another lap, the risk of a more serious issue (or getting picked up by an EMT) far outweighed me finishing the race. While I like finishing and being competitive, I'm not afraid to call it quits when the effort goes from discomfort to feeling 'bad'. 

After the race, and talking with Coach Lindsay, we pinpointed a couple of areas to focus on for the next race. I need to back off on the bike. This being my second half ironman, I'm still figuring out the pacing for each leg of the race. If I can slow down the bike by 3-4 minutes even, that would put me in alot better place to be able to actually 'race' the run instead of only surviving it. I think if the temperature is >90, I need to race with a normal bike helmet and not the mostly unventilated aero-helmet. 

I had a little training hiccup that forced me off the bike for a couple of weeks prior to the race, so while I had some initial goals for times I would like to hit, I knew that I might be lacking a bit in the endurance side of things. I had to keep an open mind and roll with the punches. Today was a DNF, but my next half-ironman is in a month, and I'm planning to have things a bit more dialed and my engine running at 100%!

One great thing about triathletes is they're a supportive bunch! They're also a very driven bunch. It's not failure to pull out of a race. It's great to push yourself and find new limits, but be attentive to what your body is telling you. If it says, 'Stop! Something bad is about to happen!', there will always be another race!

Until next time,


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