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.”
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.
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,