There’s nothing wrong with looking at someone and thinking, I want to be like that! But it can be dangerous when it turns into a comparison game. As a beginning runner, it is easy to think that the sky is the limit. Especially as you become infatuated with running, you see others achievements as benchmarks for where you want to be. Right now. You’re ambitious and you’re experiencing that runner’s high for the first time. Creating healthy, achievable goals is key, and you should be careful to shut down the comparison game before you feel the pain and frustration that comes along with it.
Here are 5 things to consider when you start comparing yourself to other runners.
- You won’t be great at running right away. Your experience level is little to nothing. And that is okay! This is where you should be right now. There is no one you should be comparing yourself to at this point in your running career, especially not elite runners. You need to keep your focus on the road ahead and not on athletes who have been competing in the sport for years. That kind of comparison is just straight up not fair. It’s ok to have training partners and more advanced runners to learn from, but don’t expect to be like them immediately. Put the time in, dedicate yourself, and you will progress as a runner.
- You have beginner’s goals. Running is a diverse sport. From runners who run to stay healthy and put a few modest miles in each week to runners who are training for ultra marathons and seem to run for most of their waking hours… we are all runners. You have to accept the fact that you are a beginner right now. Create achievable goals for yourself that reflect where you are at now, and accept the fact that running comes in many shapes and sizes.
- Your body is unique. Genetics, man! To some extent, the deck is stacked. Equal effort doesn’t always mean equal results, and that can be frustrating. You may have started training the same time as your friend, but he might assimilate to running more easily and find himself running longer and faster than you. That is okay! Your body will change and adapt to running at its own pace, and there’s no use in rushing things to try and match up to your friend every day. You’ll find some days you crush it, while other days you won’t be able to keep up.
- Your fitness level is unique. Some beginning runners are already in super good shape
, while other beginners are getting fit for the first time in their lives. You’ll notice some beginners progress faster than others, and it may be in part due to their overall fitness at the beginning of their training. So, clearly, no one’s path in this sport is the same!
- You must not lose heart. Frustration can lead to hatred. Thoughts like “I suck at running” and “why am I even trying” may start to enter your mind. It’s easy to think this way when you feel like you don’t measure up. Through the injuries, frustrations, and discouraging experiences you have when comparing yourself to other runners, you may grow to hate running. So eliminate this kind of thinking as soon as it pops up! Stay positive and don’t lose heart. There will be hard days, and there will be amazing days. Remember that running is a journey, and you are just at the starting line.