Health & fitness · Uncategorized

Compare and despair.

Compare and despair. Good phrase, that. Got my therapist to thank for that one.

Over the past couple of years I’ve surrounded myself with people who share my love for sport and fitness, both on social media and more recently, in real life. And largely it’s great. I’ve got people to talk to who understand just how frustrating it is to be injured,why I need to buy yet more kit,  and who hold my hand through new experiences whilst answering all of my daft questions. (You know who you are. Big love).

Next year – barring disaster – I will be running my first marathon and competing in my first triathlon, two months apart. Quite how training for an endurance running event and a sprint multi-discipline event AT THE SAME TIME is going to work is another matter – I’ll probably end up swimming the marathon or something. But yeah, if I manage to pull it off I’ll have achieved two pretty awesome things. I mean, 26.2 miles is a long way, right? And swimming in open water, followed by cycling, followed by a run isn’t something most sane people choose to do for fun.

And if I compare these achievements to the me of 5 years ago, who literally couldn’t run to the end of her road and would never dream of stepping an inch out of her comfort zone, let alone pushing herself to do things that scare her on a – currently – weekly basis (cycling on roads – check, venturing into the swim lanes with the ‘proper’ swimmers – check) they’re HUGE.

So why do I already feel like they aren’t enough?

A quick scroll through Twitter or Instagram gives me my answer. Trying to find somebody who hasn’t already run a marathon is tricky. Not only that, but everyone now seems to be running ultra-marathons. And that sprint distance triathlon I’ve been banging on about? What’s that compared to the Ironman that George and Sean amongst others have smashed out? I know that everybody has to start somewhere, and these ultra-marathoners and Ironmen cut their teeth on marathons and sprint tris, but I can’t help feeling that in the shadow of these, nobody will be impressed by what I hope to achieve next year. They’ll have seen it all before, only better.

(Comparing and despairing, see?)

I know you’ll say that I have my priorities wrong – the only person I should compare myself to is me; I shouldn’t be doing these things to impress people etc. But one of the biggest reasons I keep pushing myself is to give me a reason to be proud of myself. And the competitive side of me will always struggle to be proud when there’s someone doing better. I know this is nonsensical – there will ALWAYS be someone better than me,  but it’s a struggle I’m faced with nonetheless.

I’m trying to spin my mindset around and use these comparisons as inspiration. After all, I probably wouldn’t have entered the marathon or the tri, without having been inspired by the people I’ve seen completing them already. And it is these same people who will, I’m sure, push me to complete ultras and long distance triathlons in the future.

I’m always looking ahead, never happy with what I’ve currently got. A good thing? A bad thing? I’m really not sure. I’m sure this mindset will push me to achieve some pretty cool things, but will it be at the expense of me not enjoying what I achieve along the way? I hope not. On my run today I imagined the feeling of crossing the finish line at Brighton, and felt so overwhelmed that I almost cried. I mean, my bunion was hurting like hell so it could have been that.But that feeling gave me hope. Hope that I will feel proud of myself when I cross that line, and that I will deserve it.

Fingers crossed, eh?


10 thoughts on “Compare and despair.

  1. There’s far too much focus in modern running media about running further. Which creates the ‘everyone must do a marathon/ultra/iron distance tri’ mentality. You’ve got to run what you enjoy. The competitive side of you can still be quenched by getting better, rather than further. Otherwise, you’ve no choice but to aim for the Marathon des Sables!


  2. Oh god, comparisons are AWFUL. I recently stopped followed some Instagram accounts just because it was making me feel a bit crap – it can be very toxic. They’re not people I know or have any interaction with…just those “OMG WOW” inspiring accounts you know? It really wasn’t inspiring me but just depressing me!
    You’re doing awesome so don’t worry. And remember, every person who has done more than one marathon started with 0 as well at some point.


  3. I really enjoyed this. I read it a few days ago and just played with the thoughts.

    I got into long distance long before i got into social media and I don’t think I’d have done well if it was the other way round.

    The title is absolutely right for me. Comparison, no matter whether favourably or unfavourably, sucked the fun out of my sport.

    I tend to twitter very little now and just strava on my own. That keeps my bucket topped up and i dip into instagram and twitter on my own terms.

    Great blog!


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