It’s been a while since I have blogged but I have been thinking about this topic and its effect it has had on me as a runner most of my life and thought it might be a good topic to talk about. In life it’s human nature for all of us to compare ourselves to other things in our life. Sometimes we compare ourselves to other people or sometimes we just compare ourselves to other points in our life to see where we are now. We take a singular moment in the past and compare it to now without thinking about any of the other factors in play, or we take another person through our view of their lives and we compare ourselves. Both are unhealthy habits and truthfully never tell the full picture. As runners we constantly are comparing our old results to our current results. Workouts, races, even easy days we look back and think that we have not progressed or we are getting worse all because of single moments along the way. Then we look at other runners and compare ourselves and we end up in a negative spiral sometimes for no reason at all. This is something I like to think of as the comparison trap and it puts an unnecessary amount of pressure and stress on your life when it is rarely needed. And this stress sometimes causes us to get further away from our goals.
We have all done it as a runner, we have run a race that didn’t go according to the plan we had in our head. We trained really hard for a race we have run in the past and leading into it we expected big progress or results but on that day, in that singular moment in time we ended up running slower than expected. In fact maybe we ran slower than we did a few years ago. Well how is that possible? In the past few years I have trained this much harder, ran faster times at these other distances, I SHOULD BE THIS FAST NOW. Instantly we start doubting all the progress we made and think we are actually getting worse, that all our training hasn’t helped. Then a teammate or other runner may run faster than you at the race and they are progressing it seems quicker and all we can think about is what has gone wrong. The problem is from the get-go we aren’t operating with all the facts we need to, we are trying to compare apples to oranges and we are destined to most of the time end up with a comparison we don’t like. What’s funny is, if the reverse had happened and we ran faster I bet most of us would be somewhat modest and say “Well I just had better weather today, or I just felt better this time that’s all”. Ultimately by trying to compare these two incomparable things (our teammate vs us and a time in the past vs now) we end up with results that sometimes help us lead to a unconscious feeling we already believe, that we aren’t getting faster and maybe we can't anymore.
So why shouldn’t we compare two race results, on the same course several years apart or why would it not be a good idea to compare myself to my teammate? I know this course I’ve run it before and I train with my teammate I know their training. Well simply because we are taking a current situation and trying to assume it is the same as in the past, that all the conditions in our life are the same. When we ran this race several years ago we had differences in our life. We were a different person, we had different stresses in our lives, heck we had a different training load then we did now. How you feel on a certain day can never be an exact comparison to a different day. Life is complicated and to assume you had the exact same conditions in your life between weather, stress, and training several years apart is not rationale. As for comparing yourself to someone else, this is just something we as humans do way too often. We look at someone else and assume we know their story and know what they should/shouldn’t do. We as humans barely are capable of understanding ourselves and our actions, do we really think we can ascertain this information about another human being from our interactions with them. This type of comparison is by far the unhealthiest and then leads us down a road of jealous and envy. I am sure if all of us came to a room and put all our problems on the table most of us would very quickly take our problems back and run before assuming we could handle someone else’s. So instead of comparing yourself to someone else or an older version of yourself, just look at your current life and know that if you continue to grow as a person you are always progressing and getting faster. Keep believing that there will always be bumps in the road because of other factors but ultimately they will subside if we allow them to and don’t let them fester. And to always focus on encouraging and supporting those around ourselves instead of comparing ourselves to others because in the end envy will lead us down a dark path.
As for my running lately, I’ve done two races since the NJ Half Marathon where I have placed 5th in the Germantown 5 miler and where I placed 4th in the Bel Air Town Run. I’ve been ramping up training for the summer and have a busy race filled summer so look for me out at many races just testing my limits and having fun. And lastly as I haven’t announced it here I have been selected to be a part of an awesome Elite training team sponsored by Rabbit and will be running for the RabbitElite squad for the 2018-2019 year. It’s an exciting new journey and I look forward to all its adventures and bringing all that Rabbit offers to the running community to all of you.
As always thanks for reading and here are some recent photos!