Next month, Fleur Runs will participate in the Paris Marathon and the Virgin Money London Marathon.
Behold the comparison trap – the act of comparing your running performance against another. We’re all guilty of falling into this trap at some stage, but I’ve learned how to recognize the factors that affect performance when reviewing my runs along my journey.
It goes a little something like this: you take part in a race and feel relatively good about your performance. Then you scroll through Instagram and you see others who ran quicker than you. Despite perhaps not even knowing these people, you feel disappointed with your time.
Next time you find yourself doing this, try to remember how much information you’re missing from their story. Most likely you don’t know how long this person has been running or how much training they have put in, but for some reason your mind plays tricks on you and decides to make a direct comparison with your performance. It’s bound to happen and it’s an unfair comparison to make, so it’s important to know about the tools to talk yourself out of this mindset.
Simply put, you cannot compare your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 5. There will always be people who are faster and fitter than you., but here will be also people who are slower. Someone might be looking at a post of your run and wishing they could keep your pace.
Similarly, it can be equally frustrating to start comparing yourself to you several years ago. Perhaps you now have a more time-consuming job, you might have suffered an injury or now have children to factor into the equation. All of these can affect your running mindset, motivations, and training. I set my half marathon PB in the first half marathon I ever ran. I had only been running a couple of months and I had no clue what I was doing. A few weeks ago, I ran a half marathon and it was 27 minutes slower. I am frustrated that in three years my time has slowed, but I acknowledge that my circumstances are different.
Your performance is all relative to the precise conditions you find yourself in on the day of your run/race. Did you sleep well the night before? Do you have a niggling injury? Did you break the cardinal rule of never wearing a new piece of kit for the first time on a long run and end up having a wardrobe malfunction /chaffing? I learn something new during every race I take part in, and try to adjust for future runs!
Social media can be an incredibly inspiring tool if you use it to motivate you. But when you start to compare and criticise yourself, put your phone down and instead make a list of all of your running achievements to date. Don’t forget, dragging yourself out of bed at 9am on a Saturday to go for a run after a week at work is an achievement in itself! There is no need to put a downer on that by comparing yourself to someone who was raring to go at 6am and ran 5 miles further.
We are all unique. Endlessly comparing yourself to others, whether with regards to life or running achievements is a waste of your time and is quite frankly exhausting. Acknowledge that it will happen from time to time and swiftly move on. You could be using that time to plan your next running adventure!