Enough With The Comparing

The other night I was out with a group of friends and we were chatting about another friend of ours who is marathon training right now and how she is looking pretty darn awesome.  It is so cool to see her progress.  We are all proud of her for the hard work she is putting in and the awesome side effects that come with training….like those killer calves.

As we continued to chat someone mentioned that they just didn’t think that running was in the cards for them.  That is totally fine.  There are a ton of other activities you can do.  Honestly, there are many days when running doesn’t feel in the cards for me.  But as the conversation continued it delved into the frustrations of losing weight or getting back to a certain weight we used to be at.

Someone mentioned the difficulties of losing weight after having a baby.  There are a lot of pressures out there to get back to where you were before the baby arrived.  It doesn’t help when you see celebrities touting their quick weight loss back to a size 0 in a matter of weeks.  The reality is, that isn’t how it works for most people and those afternoon milkshake cravings don’t just suddenly disappear.  It can be frustrating to look in the mirror and compare your progress to that celebrity who has a trainer and their job is to get fit for the next big role.

Last weekend we were on a long group training run and traveling at a pretty good clip.  A very fit and fast athlete passed us and someone mentioned that it discourages them to get passed by another runner.  I mentioned that it was important to remember that the other runner probably wasn’t running 12 miles that morning and that we all need to focus on our own personal paces and goals.

And then  yesterday one of my favorite bloggers, Lauren from Run Salt Run  posted about what I found to be a very annoying experience.  She is just getting back from an extremely frustrating injury and has finally been able to log some mileage.  I think we all know that awesome feeling of those first few runs after an injury.  After posting her stats from a recent run on Instagram someone commented and said that her 8 minute miles were slow…..

Comparing

Excuse me…. what what what?!  First of all I think most of us would agree that an 8 minute mile is pretty commendable.  Let’s not forget that I am working with many athletes as they train for their first marathon and they would give anything to run just one 8 minute mile.  Truth is, they will probably train all summer and fall and still come a few minutes short of that pace per mile!

But what is with all of this comparing?  It really isn’t fair to anyone.

Most runners wouldn’t judge another runner like this.  Honestly, if you told an elite runner you were training and doing 8 minute miles they would probably give you a high five and tell you to keep it up.  The reality is that running is hard, whether you run 6 minute miles or 13 minute miles.  A true runner recognizes the difficulty of their sport and can acknowledge the accomplishments of those who cross the finish line way before them just as much as those who finish near the very end.  This sport seriously sucks at times.  It hurts, it makes us smell pretty awful, our bodies do weird things…..and it happens at every speed!

Everyone’s bodies are different.  Everyone’s endurance is different.  Perhaps your friend lost 5 pounds in a week, but that doesn’t mean your month long struggle isn’t just as incredible.

A few months ago I met a gentleman who has a nueuromuscular disease.  Despite the impact this has had on his life, on a daily basis, he is working towards trekking up Mt. Everest later this year.  I had the opportunity to chat with him and I mentioned how incredible this journey sounded.  I told him I didn’t think I could ever do something like that.  His response has stuck with me for months, “Sarah we all have our struggles.  They are all different, but we all have our struggles.  I could never run a marathon and I commend you for doing that.”

Those are words that we should all keep in mind.  We all have our struggles.  Whether it is a few pounds, a debilitating disease, trying to run a few miles each day; whatever it might be.  It is important to remember that each struggle, regardless of how small it may seem to you, is a big step for someone.  Take a moment and celebrate your progress.  Be proud of each accomplishment you make.  Celebrate YOU.  And then take a moment to step back and celebrate the progress of those around you.  Recognize that we all have our struggles and whether or not you can see what that other person is struggling to achieve, it is there somewhere.

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And for goodness sakes, please stop comparing yourself and your progress to that of everyone else around you!

36 thoughts on “Enough With The Comparing

  1. This. All of this. So good and so true. Respect other people’s journey and celebrate in their successes. Respect your own journey and celebrate in YOUR success. Any comparison should only be done as admiration (like in the case of the gentlemen you spoke to that is working on climbing Mt. Everest).

    Such a wonderful reminder.

  2. YES. I struggle with this and always feel so slow compared to everyone around me, and yet I’ve come so far since I started running. Thanks for the reminder to focus on what I’ve done instead of always comparing myself to others! 🙂

  3. Fantastic post! Important to remember not to compare to others or even to other versions of yourself. I usually can keep myself from comparing to other runners but it’s really hard for me not to judge every training cycle or run off of my best training or runs.

  4. I swear you should write a book.
    Brilliant post and as you know I TOTALLY agree with every word! (Thank you for the mention BTW. <3) It's so important to focus on our own journey. Other people don't matter one bit.

    • It got me a bit fired up and a few other conversations were about something similar. It is important to remember. I am the worst at comparing….you should see me at a yoga class comparing myself in the mirror to everyone. Ugh.

  5. Loved this post and I totally needed to read it. Also, I think this quote from your post should be on a plaque or something!

    “A true runner recognizes the difficulty of their sport and can acknowledge the accomplishments of those who cross the finish line way before them just as much as those who finish near the very end.”

  6. I can definitely relate to this. I have struggled with running for a long time, ever time I start to build up, I get injured. I posted on instagram my garmin stats for my run and how proud I was of it and someone commented “you are really slow at running”. I was so annoyed. They should have read that I was proud and just kept their mouth shut. I don’t know why some people feel the need to bring others down.

  7. Great post! I’m most guilty of comparing what I do to those that run faster/farther, and beating myself up for not “measuring up”. Great reminder to embrace where I am now, instead of focusing on where I’m not yet.

  8. Great post. It’s tempting to compare ourselves with others but you’re so right. We all have our struggles. Running is a personal triumph. There are people who can’t run faster than 14 minute miles. And there are people who can’t run at all. We all have our struggles.

  9. Well said! I agree. Speed is so relative. I have local elite friends who run sub 5 minute miles, and I also have friends who have to walk most of the way. But at the end of the run, we all still hang out and congratulate each other. Just as long as you’re out there trying!!!!

  10. Yes, a thousand times. I am one of the slower runners. I will never make an 8 min mile. Not ever. But I’m faster than I was a year ago and that is what I compare myself to. I used to be bummed a bit but now I think that for every runner that passes me, there is a walker I pass. And the walkers are all passing those who sit on the couch.

  11. You can never know where someone else is with their training. That person who just blasted past could have just left home and be starting a one mile run. Equally that slow person you just breezed past could be on the last mile of a 50mile run. You just don’t know. As long as people are out there doing stuff, running,cycling, swimming, walking it doesn’t matter how fast they are going or how far they have been, they are improving themselves and we should all concentrate on improving ourselves. We need a little more internal focus and not be so quick to judge others on their perceived performances. Unless it’s a race, then all bets are off 🙂

    • LOL yes all bets are off in a race. But it is true that you have no idea where a person is in their training. Learning to focus on our own training and improvements makes life a lot easier.

  12. Amen! So true. When I first started running, I would compare myself to others and it wasn’t a good feeling. Now, I just say, “Do you, Boo-Boo!” Everyone is on their own journey and I am too. I and others should embrace every moment and milestone. 🙂

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