No Comparison Allowed

This morning I read a race report that really got my blood boiling. I'm not even sure that it was warranted and it is entirely possible that I read into it too much, but either way I was feeling down on myself for a while after reading it. If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen me tweet-venting over it, although I don't have an actual link to share because it was in an email. I'm not going to share any exact quotes as the person isn't a blogger and it's not the right thing to do, but I am writing this post because I need to get this off my chest. Why did I let myself feel so inferior? I'm not, I work hard, and I make progress on my own terms.

In a nutshell, the report was from a difficult trail marathon and the person who wrote it is super fast. He set a course record, although he still didn't come in first place this time around. It was his first trail race ever. Shortly into the prose I realized this person doesn't understand how hard people work even when they run slower paces, and that is the reason it upset me. He suggested that people shouldn't be carrying water, they should be able to go 4-5 miles without it. People who are going slower are sweating less so they should be fine even if it's longer between aid stations (to me, this means he thinks they aren't working as hard and that is NOT true.) He was commenting on how he was x minutes per mile faster than people who started early for the longer race, and what are they doing, walking the whole thing?

As I read it, I knew I would have been one of the people carrying water, walking hills during a tough trail race, and 'not sweating as much' because I'm slower. But you know what? I would be working HARD even so. I'm not a speed demon, and I don't claim to be. I love that trail can be a little more laid back and it's a different vibe than a road race.

I know it's not worth comparing myself to other people and that the important part is personal progress, but it was hard to read these comments none-the-less. I wanted to go find the person and give him a piece of my mind, but of course I didn't. In a way, the race recap made me feel unworthy of being friends with fast runners for fear of judgement.

Now that I've gone through the day and had my run, I'm fine. I've realized that his recap wasn't intended to make anyone feel bad (I think?), he wanted to write his thoughts just like I do on this blog, and he can feel however he wants to about slower runners. (That doesn't mean I want to make friends though.) I know better than to think all fast runners judge slow runners - the support I've found on Twitter, Oiselle team, and the SF Marathon Ambassador team confirms that one. It doesn't matter what one runner says and I will not waste any more time being frustrated about it. I won't allow one person to affect my mental state.

We are all runners, we all make progress at our own pace, and we support each other. Now let's go run!

  1. Paulette! I LOVE THIS! I recently experienced this. My friend and I ran the same 15k race, I trained pretty hard and she didn't train at all. I finished in 1:44 (and was pumped!) and she finished in 1:13...over 30 minutes faster than me. Ugh. It's SO hard not to compare. I'm slow, I get it. But I'm working so freaking hard to be fast!!! Bahhhh!!! I feel you girl.

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    1. Thanks - and we are in the same spot, haha. Great job on that 15K, loved your post about it.

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  2. yuck this bothers me too. my MD even races locally and mentioned that my pace was, and i quote 'really slow'. it's weird, i think mostly the running community is friendly and encouraging but every once in a while you get the ahole who probably discourages someone from trying!

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    1. I can't believe your MD said that, how nuts! But it's true that most people are supportive, and that's what counts.

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  3. He is young and lacks empathy for the differences between.
    With time most do learn, hopefully :-/

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  4. It also sounds like he's not had his running humbling moment -- even the fast runners seem to get those which is why this guys approach is not very common. Running insures he'll have his moment and then he'll have more compassion and understanding of ability etc.

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    1. Yes I love that explanation - I bet you're right!

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  6. I totally agree with Paul. My second Marathon, I PR'd about 30 seconds behind an 80-year-old man. He congratulated me very sincerely. I think he was probably that super fast guy who didn't understand average runners in his youth, but age has a way of leveling things.

    My brother-in-law ran in college and was an All American steeplechaser. He has the annoying habit of staying in good enough shape without actually training to show up on a whim and just win the same races I've trained for months to do in the middle of the pack. But, he's always very supportive of how hard other runners work, which makes him much more tolerable than the post you mentioned.

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    1. Great story about the marathon PR - love it! Glad your brother-in-law is supportive too.

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  7. He'll figure it out. Tricia is right - he probably hasn't had many of those humbling moments.

    What matters more than the speed you're going at is that you're working towards a goal, and accomplishing it. (My boss, who has heart issues and a pacemaker so is supposed to keep his heart rate down, trained to walk a marathon, and walk he did - it took him six hours but he did indeed walk the whole thing!)

    Most runners know better than to judge another runner for how slow they are going - you never know how far they have already come.

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    1. I think Tricia is right too - just needs time to learn. :)

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  8. Fantastically written post!! Don't compare yourself to those who are faster than you, let them be your inspiration.
    You don't need people like that in your life. Happy running!

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