When should you quit?
Is it onmy before the halfway mark
Or just when it starts to hurt?
Do you carry on crawling on hands and knees?
Do you stop whenever you please?
I doubt there’s an answer that simple,
No equation; no one size fits all
That’s part of the final story
As you leave the race in a blaze of glory.
I have a friend who was doing a continuous deca Ironman last week. For those of you who are not familiar with the the world of ultra, that means that he was completing a triathlon that is ten times the distance of a standard ironman.
And if you don’t know ironman distances then I am here to tell you that he was attempting to swim 24 miles, followed by a 1,120 mile bike ride and all topped off with a 262 mile run.
I spent last week glued to Facebook as I watched his progress. He boshed out the swim in 13 hours and then took several days to complete the ride. By the time he started the run his body was already broken and it was painful to watch the video clips of him hobbling around the 1 mile course.
Ultimately, it got to the point where he was just moving too slowly and he had to withdraw after EIGHT DAYS of moving. He had about 120 miles to go, but he just wasn’t going to make it so he dropped.
I can’t imagine how disappointed he must be feeling right now, knowing that all that effort came to nothing (he still has serious respect from most people in the ultra community whatever the result).
It has made me think about my own experiences with giving up and that disappointment, and more importantly, when is the appropriate time to chuck in the towel? I used to say that once you went past half way you couldn’t quit, but sometimes you just want to see how far you can push it.
I’ve had several friends die because they’ve pushed it too far, and it’s horrible to log onto Facebook and see that somebody got into difficulty in the Channel and couldn’t be saved.
Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is so important, but I’ve learnt over the years that listening to your body is important. You learn a lot from quitting so it’s never actually a wasted experience.
So, I guess what I’m trying to say is embrace those failures because they’ll normally make the best stories years down the line. But make sure you learn your lesson and come back stronger next time.
4 thoughts on “when is the correct time to quit?”
That is a tricky balance, isn’t it, Rachel? Yes, you want to ask your body to try to achieve something new. But you also have to listen very closely to what your body says. If your body says ‘stop,’ you have to do that. If you don’t, your body will stop you and it won’t be fun. As your example shows, it can even lead to death. Sometimes, you have to know when you’ve hit your limit. That’s what happened to Simone Biles last summer at the Olympics. A lot of people didn’t want her to withdraw, but I think she showed bravery and wisdom to pull out when she did. She knew what was best for her.
I hated how people spoke about her last year. She could have literally ended up dead if one of her routines went wrong and people were slating her. I think that people need to remember to exercise the kindness we keep banging on about!
How do you eat and go to the bathroom when you do a race that long?
Haha, I always get asked that one when people hear I’ve swum that Channel. In the water you just ‘go’ and you have to tread water to eat. In those longer races you normally find a bush. As the deca is over so many days, they will sleep for an hour or two at a time on the side of the course.