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Half Marathon Monday: Learning to Stop the Comparison

Comparison is the thief of joy.Image via Whitney Bangel

I’ve loved the above quote since the first time I heard it. Same goes for the following: “Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.” However, these quotes have come to mean two different things to me. The first time I trained for a half marathon, the second quote was so applicable. In the beginning, I was frustrated by long, lean women who could sprint past me with ease. It frustrated me that I struggled to push through 4-5 mile runs. As I continued to train, I learned to focus only on my own progress. You have no idea how many years the women passing you have been running. How often they train. How many races they’ve run (or even won). Or whether, behind the pokerface, their bodies are screaming with effort. You only know the details of your own journey. One of my favorite things about the running community is that everyone supports one another, no matter your experience or pace. Now, I rarely find myself comparing my progress to another runner’s progress.

But let’s revisit the quote above. Yes, it could refer to comparing yourself to others, but it’s meant something different to me in the last two weeks. I think of it as me comparing my current fitness level to where I was on race day at the end of April. Remembering my splits on race day and comparing them to where I am now has been frustrating, but it’s unrealistic to make that comparison. And it has taken the fun out of training so far. On Saturday, I decided to change that. Rather than push through 5 miles at a choking-on-humidity pace, I maintained a respectable pace and let myself take a few walk breaks. In the mental game of running, listening to your body isn’t enough. I’m learning to pay close attention to my mind and to respect my effort. It’s not fair to compare yourself after two weeks of preparation to the runner you were after four months of preparation. I have many more weeks ahead of me and look forward to feeling even stronger on my second race day than I did on my first.

This Week’s Plan of Attack

Monday – Run 3-4 miles
Tuesday – Run 4-5 miles
Wednesday – Strength @ Uplift
 – Run 10K
 – Full Body @ Barry’s Bootcamp
 – Rest Day
 – Run 3-4 miles

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