We’ll get onto the title of this post a little later. Let’s first focus on comparison. ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’. It’s true. I’m sure it’s a saying you’re all familiar with, I always believed it BUT when you combat it and actually stop comparing yourself to others, you do realise how much joy it was taking…
I recently spoke in a YouTube video about how I’m on the other side of a journey out of comparing my running to others’. When I was starting back out running, I’d forever be comparing my post-run Strava posts and performance to everything that I saw on there. I also approached my training in a way that would make my post run posts allow me to be perceived a certain way. When I write it out now it seems so silly BUT it is SO easy to do especially when you’re starting out. When all you see is Instagram pumping out posts saying ‘x’ pace is a good ‘easy’ pace and you’re not even close. When ‘x’ time is great for just throwing in a 5km into your week and again, you’re not close even on a good day…
It’s a weird thing to admit. That you perhaps wouldn’t take your easy runs as easy as you should have done in fear of what that made you look like on Strava; or that you’re saying your run was an easy run when it was more tempo effort. It happens more than you know.
Looking back, it really does disappoint me. Not in a way that I’m disappointed in myself, but in way where so much energy was expended worrying about these things when in reality, no one cares. It makes no difference to anyone else, the pace you’re running your easy run at. Those easy runs are your bread and butter. They’re your endurance builders. They’re there to help you recover from hard sessions and help your body run more efficiently. So…. why push too hard in those sessions and jeopardise all of the benefits they’re meant to bring? I’m telling you now, it’s not worth it. Run those easy runs, easy!
You will have your chance to perform and prove yourself. Whether it be in races, events, time trials- whatever that looks like for you, that time will come. When that time comes, you’ll be thankful that you didn’t throw your easy runs.
So that’s pacing… what about distance you should be running? There seems to be this weird unwritten rule on social media where a run only counts if it’s 5km or longer. Let’s just throw that in the bin right away. Any distance is a good distance. If you’ve only got 15 minutes to head out, clear your head and get some fresh air then turn that thinking around… instead of limited thinking of- ‘I’ve only got 15 minutes’, tell yourself- ‘I’ve got a whole 15 minutes’ to get out and run.
Remember, everyone runs for their own reasons, each run might have it’s own reason too. For example, I may be training for a huge ultra but that doesn’t mean that I can’t just head out for 20 minutes easy to clear my head and connect with my dog. You may be training for an ultra where speed training over a short distance isn’t a focus… and comparing your 5km efforts to someone whose goal is to run a 5km PB. They simply aren’t comparable. When we’re looking at Strava, or Instagram captions, they’re isolated instances, appreciate that person’s efforts but don’t let them diminish your own.
So now I’ve turned this around for running, it could really be applied to all aspects of life. Comparing your career to someone else’s? Comparing your family unit to someone else’s? Comparing your perception of success with someone else’s life? Tell me truthfully, does doing that make you happy? I’m going to hazard a guess at the answer to that being no… This is also a work in progress for me. I’ve just turned 31 and it would be easy to compare where I am and what I have achieved with others BUT it’s the butterfly effect isn’t it…. if you changed even the smallest detail along the way, your life could take SUCH a difference course. So if you were to then ask me if I’d change a single thing, my answer would always be no. If my life had have been different in even the smallest of ways, I wouldn’t have Bonnie or Mark, I wouldn’t have just graced the cover of Women’s Running Magazine and have some of the amazing opportunities I have now. It’s amazing to think, some of our best days are yet to happen.
My advice- stop focusing on the things that could have happened differently, or how successful someone ‘seems’ in comparison to you, or battling with your own perception of the timeline you should be following. Focus instead on the amazing things you have, the people around you and the things you can do, if change is what you want. Then, go out and do something about it instead of just stewing on it.
It’s time I also took my own advice instead of living a very ‘do as I say, not as I do‘ life…