The Dangers of Comparison

I’ve always struggled with constantly comparing myself to others. I was like this as a child, but I think going to Cambridge with a load of other Type As really reinforced this in me. And at the very start of my training for Manchester, I was feeling inadequate- not just because I had started my training a few weeks late, but because every other runner seemed to be further ahead than me in their paces and confidence.
During a pre-training conversation with a friend (which in hindsight, probably seemed like a meltdown- but that was just how I operated at the time) I was just about to start bemoaning my lack of training- especially when compared to her, an experienced runner with several Boston finishes under her belt. But she cut me off completely. “Nope. Stop it. No. Don’t compare yourself. Just don’t do it. It’ll never make you happy.”
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And somehow, just like that, I stopped.
Now that’s not to say it was all sunshines and rainbows- not by any stretch of the imagination. But even when I had shitty workouts, or compared myself to how I wanted to be, I just didn’t allow that to extend to comparing myself to other people. It’s so odd how I managed to switch that off- and something I’m so proud of. But then again, once the marathon was done (and of course, I had a bad race day), I went back to my old ways. In the weeks following the marathon I was trying to run fast miles, borne out of my frustration with the fact that everyone else’s slow miles were faster than mine. This ended up burning me out and leaving me grouchy, resentful and unsatisfied-really, what else did I expect?
So whilst this is a ramble, I guess it’s proof that it is possible to live without comparison- I managed it myself! Every once, for me at least, it’s worth checking in with myself and making sure I’m taking the pressure off every once in a while, and that I’m not measuring myself up to other people’s standards. It’s doing me a lot of good mentally to just try to create a block against comparison- yeah, a friend of mine may have got a podium place in this or that race, but their journey is completely different to mine.
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And seeing as this post is getting incredibly sappy as it is, I’ll go whole hog and say what I (very drunkenly) said to a colleague of mine when having a big Deep and Meaningful about my love of the sport: “It’s not about competing, but about being the best you”. 
Eugh. Sorry about that. Now excuse me while I go vomit.
What’s your biggest mental struggle been? And do you struggle with the comparison trap?
Lots of love,
Pippa
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11 thoughts on “The Dangers of Comparison

  1. I relate to this. I’ve been a victim of the comparison trap as well. It’s been a long hard journey out of it but experience and mindfulness are helping me put things in perspective. I don’t often compare on a daily basis but I admit sometimes feeling jealous when friends beat my race times or of other runners whose easy pace is my tempo workout.

    But after a while I just remember that this stuff is really so meaningless and life is too short to worry about how fast everyone runs. Unless you’re an elite runner, nobody cares what your race times are and it just doesn’t matter how fast you are – running is still running no matter what your pace is. We’re all doing the same thing and pushing ourselves in the same way, some of us just get to enjoy the scenery a bit longer 😉

    It is cliche now but it’s so true: there will always be someone faster. Whenever I find myself envying a friend cause her times are faster than mine I just remind myself: if it weren’t her, it’d just be someone else. Carry on.

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    1. Yeah that’s so true! I was really nervous going to my first race with my club- as in, actually competing for them. Only the ‘good’ runners compete, and I was absolutely bricking it the night before! But then i realised literally nobody cared, and everyone just wanted to have a lovely little road trip to the countryside, a race, and then some beer! It was a big hurdle for me to get over mentally but I’m glad I did!

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  2. The way I see it, if I’m out there doing it, then I’m already ahead of the game. On the understanding, of course, that it’s still not a competition. Once you’re out running, you’re already doing something fab that’s good for the mind and body. The jam on top is when someone asks you what you’ve done recently, and you casually say “oh, I did a marathon last week”. They’re the good moments. Savour them! 😉

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    1. Haha yes! I love that I can now go and run 10 miles on a whim, or do two long runs back to back because some people from my club invited me along. It’s definitely worth appreciating how far you’ve come- about 2 years ago I could barely run for 10 mins!

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  3. Comparison works both ways. Don’t beat yourself up because you’re not as good as someone else. Don’t get smug because you think you are better☺️ Easier said than done! Just keep practising. 😀😀

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  4. I never struggle with the comparison trap… Especially once I see what others have to give up to be where they are. For instance, my neighbor has a beautiful yard. Mine is cut and devoid of trash but it’s not near as manicured. He spends 10-15 hours a week out there – roughly the time I spend on my bike. I have to give up cycling to have that lawn. No chance. The rest of life is just like that lawn.

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  5. Lately I’ve been struggling with the comparison trap of losing the baby weight and other mom’s who went back to a flat tummy in no time. I know comparing won’t do any good, but I still do it. ARG. Need to stop that asap!

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