Have you ever checked social media only to become insanely jealous of what other runners, cyclists, and triathletes are doing?
It’s a natural human tendency to compare ourselves – from race times to the number of miles completed.
But it becomes harmful to our health when competition and comparison takes a wrong turn to the dark side.
Here, you become self-critical, constantly feeling as if you’re never good or fast enough. And you devalue your efforts, training, and successes.
No matter how far you go, or how many drills and intervals you do, you’re never where you think you should be compared to everyone else.
You can’t catch up.
When you focus on another athlete’s accomplishments, you take away the focus from yours.
As you continue to push yourself, there will always be someone else you view as a better athlete.
Comparison saps your energy, chips away at your self-confidence, and kills your joy and motivation.
Fortunately, you can take the reins and prevent the comparison game from sapping your passion.
How to stop competition and comparison from sapping your joy
Stop competition and comparison by identifying the accomplishments that mean the most to you
We don’t for sure where another athlete is in their journey. One may be a newbie, while another might have picked up running after spending years as a cyclist (where they might have a high level of aerobic fitness, but a ow level of running specific conditioning).
If you compare race results, remember that race times differ depending on the course – whether it was hilly, flat, or downhill, and on each person’s race goal.
Given the individual nature of each athlete and their goals, it’s crucial to set targets meaningful to you and aim to outdo your own personal best rather than someone else’s.
Those goals are the ones where you’re willing to set dedicated time aside to struggle for and focus upon.
What are you willing to struggle and sacrifice for? What pain are you willing to endure to achieve your goals?
Your answer to these questions reveal the goals most important to you.
For example, if your goals is to run a marathon, are you willing to commit several months to train for it? Will you trade family time or happy hours for long runs?
Use a wide-angle lens
Those who are most visible are the ones that get the most attention – we see it with the elites, and the pros, in all the major races.
We compare ourselves to these athletes and then doubt ourselves, our abilities, and feel like failures in comparison.
But we forget that we’re looking at a small percentage of athletes.
But when we’re in the midst of competition and comparison, we must widen our perspective.
Using a wide-angle lens gets us to zoom out and take in more of the field – all the athletes, not just the elites.
Watch or take part any local race in person and you’ll find that athletes come in all shapes, sizes, and abilities.
Go easy on yourself
If you’re still competing and comparing how you measure up, then it’s a good bet you don’t cut yourself any slack…ever.
But instead of beating yourself up and drowning in inadequacy, what if you decided that showing up and doing the work was enough? What if you had self-compassion instead?
Before you write this idea off as weak, irrelevant, and self-indulgent, consider this – it takes immense courage to be kind and caring to yourself.
Still not convinced? Self-compassion creates an environment where there’s room for mistakes. When it’s safe to fail, you’re more likely to be bold and push your boundaries.
And, when you practice self-compassion, you’ll experience lower anxiety, less depression, and higher self-confidence.
Believing in your skills and abilities is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal.
Any time you catch yourself spiraling downward, remember this mantra:
“I am enough.”
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How to keep a healthy perspective on running, Trail Runner
Why self-compassion works better than self-esteem, The Atlantic
The development and validation of a scale to measure self-compassion, Kristin D. Neff