So that grass….not always so much greener

Friday’s Workout:
The Plan: 4 Miles Slow
The Actual: 4 Miles @ 9:24 Pace (early workout followed by a spa day with one of my besties – YES, PLEASE!)

Saturday’s Workout:
The Plan: 13 Miles Steady
The Actual: 13 Miles @ 9:31 Pace

Sunday’s Workout: Rest Day

Today’s Workout:
The Plan: 4 Miles Slow; 4 30 sec. strides with 2 min. recovery
The Actual: 4 Miles @ 9:13 Pace; 4 30 sec. strides at 6:30 avg. pace; Total Mileage: 4.95 Miles @ 9:12 Pace

Saturday’s run was pretty nice (although we did miss some of the usuals – sad face).  We started with a larger group but it pretty quickly turned into Russ and I logging the miles together – never a bad thing.  I was pretty impressed with the both of us.  We talked pretty much the whole time and our pace for each mile was extremely steady (even with JOHNSON ROAD in there – it’s a giant hill if you’re not from around here).  One of our topics of conversation was the danger of comparing yourself to the other runners around you.  Then, interestingly enough, one of the other bloggers I follow Wasn’t Just the Wine Talking posted on the same topic.  WEIRD!

On top of this weird coincidence, I’ve had some folks recently comment about how reading my blog is interesting but they could NEVER run as far.  First of all, that’s a huge falsehood.  I figured now was as good a time as ever to really dive into why “comparing” is such an evil world when it comes to physical accomplishments.

  1. History – You don’t know where the person you’re comparing yourself with came from.  In my case, just two short years ago I would consider myself a beginner.  I didn’t just sit up one day, decide I wanted to run 14 miles, put the kicks on and log the miles.  Nope.  I started at a point where 5 miles was my longest run but truthfully I probably capped out closer to 3 on a regular basis.  In essence we all start as beginners so just realize we you are on the path and follow it to where YOU want it to take you.
  2. Physiology – You have NO idea what’s going inside the person you’re comparing yourself to.  They may have been born with some crazy lactate threshold or maybe they have muscle fibers built for sprinting versus you’re built for distance.  You just don’t know – unless you ask them and that’s just weird….so don’t do that.
  3. Body Type – No matter how hard I try I will always have T&A, not a bad thing if you ask the hubs, but what that does mean is I have different limitations and/or corrections I need to think about in my gate and foot strike.  These are things that “natural born runners” probably don’t worry about.  They just run!  And they look so beautiful doing it!!!  That being said, I can’t change my skeletal structure and neither can you.  Just own it, make the most of it, and be thankful for those T&A…those natural born runners are probably pretty jealous of them 🙂
  4. Present – What did you have to eat last night?  What did you have to drink in the last three days?  How large are your carbohydrate stores?  How efficient are you at sweating?  These are all really important questions, and differ from person to person as you toe that starting line, in determining your run performance.  Again, unless you ask the people next to you, and don’t do that, comparing yourself is pretty futile.
  5. Future – What’s the end game?  You need to keep your goal YOUR goal.  This was really important for me at the LL Bean 10k.  I was coming off an injury and the 26.2 is my end game, however, I knew it was going to be difficult not to compare myself to those around me and lose sight of “my race”.  For me, “clearing the mechanism” isn’t just about game-face it’s about being singularly focused on MY plan for the race and sometimes that means NOT racing but simply enjoying what it means to be out there on the course.

I’m not putting a number on this one because ending on 6 is weird, and my OCD won’t let me, plus it really is the overall reason you just can’t and shouldn’t compare yourself to the runners around.  Running is at least 40% mental (I made that number up but you get the points – it’s BIG!).  Your own mental tenacity could put you far ahead of that person with a high lactate threshold or sprinter muscle fibers.  On the other hand, if you let your thoughts drift to the negative i.e. why can’t I keep up with that person?, I’m so slow, I’ll never be able to do this, no matter how well you’ve stuck to “the plan” you’re going to fall short.  If you’re head is full of all these thoughts related to someone else you’re going to miss your OWN body telling you what it needs and what it’s capable of.

Having an inspirational mentor or hero is one thing, that’s positive and totally okay, but once you let the comparison go negative you’re asking for trouble.  You’re working too hard to worry about missing someone else’s goals.  Stick to your own….they’re pretty impressive!


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