This post is going to be a hard one for me to write. I am going to admit something about myself that NOBODY knows. (except maybe a list of about a million people up to and including: mom, dad, brother, aunts, uncles, cousins, boyfriend, friends, childhood friends, coworkers, acquaintances, exes etc.)
Since the day I was born….
I have been…..
There. I said it.
If someone were to ask me something that I remember my mom teaching me when I was growing up–it would be “worry about yourself, Ashlee, it doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing and you can’t control other people or outcomes.” No I was not one of those kids who needed to be reassured or told I was beautiful. My mom’s advise wasn’t whimsical or inspirational–it didn’t have to be I have always been as ambitious as they come. My mom’s advice was downright practical and true.
I always needed everything to be my way and cared SO much about other people’s lives. I bossed my little friends around and cried at every birthday party I had until I was like 10 years old or something. Penn State birthdays don’t count, by the way. I wanted everything to be the way Ashlee wanted it should be.
Until junior year of college I would say I was still VERY much like this, and today I believe there is a small part of me that is this way, as I think EVERYONE has some degree of this within themselves. We all compare ourselves to one another and try to even out the differences by projecting or manipulating others to think and do like us (even if it is just a tiny bit). It is human nature. But in the last few years I have realized how little I care about what other people do with their lives.
Except in regards to one thing:
It is EXTREMELY hard for me not to compare myself to other runners. Men, women. Old, young. Slow, fast, in-between. Thin, moderately thin, not-so-thin. Marathoners, halfers, non-racers, tri-athletes. Doesn’t matter. Inevitably on that 5 mile Monday recovery run in the park I suddenly lose my concentration because someone who looks just like me (or they could be older, or taller, or younger, or thinner, or fatter) is running faster than me and I start to think WHY THE HELL CAN THAT PERSON BE RUNNING THAT FAST? WE LOOK THE SAME (or different). I kick up my pace, and totally wreck a run that I was supposed to be running slow and for recovery benefits. The next day on my pace run my legs feel heavy and I wonder why I am not improving as greatly as I had hoped. Yep. I am bossy. More so to myself now. Forcing my competitive mind’s ideas on my sit-back-and-enjoy-the-run mind’s ideas.
So why do I, why do WE, do this as runners? And let me also say that when reading this post if you are not a runner but you are someone trying to reach a fitness goal, or a cyclist, or a tri-athlete, or a power-lifter, or a swimmer, or a cross-fitter, or someone trying to stick to a clean diet, or someone just trying to eat the way you want to without following diet trends, OR ANYONE, just insert that <here> because it is the exact same premise.
I don’t know why we do this. It is really a stupid thing to do because we cannot control our athletic ability for the most part, and the parts we can control come mostly from hard-work and dedication, WHICH we are already proving we have by being out there in the first place. We also know barely ANYTHING about the person or the person’s workout who we are comparing ourselves to and even if we do there are a lot of factors we aren’t considering.
For instance. Because this post wouldn’t be complete without an example. The most recent person that I compared myself to was a girl about my age, about my build, who was up at the same time of morning as me. She passed me on the outer loop of Central Park. She was going faster than me (obvi) and she had on a white t-shirt. That is really all I know about her. She could have been running faster than me that day because she was on a pace run and I was on recovery. She might have been pushing herself to the limit. Maybe she was going slow for her own abilities. Who knows. All I know is I should not be getting down on myself because she passed me and my legs felt heavy that particular run. I am out there getting my miles in like everyone else, training the best that I can.
So runners unite! Start taking a positive approach to your training and realize that you should be out there doing this for you. your training and your abilities are the direct result of your hard-work (and sometimes genes but that is neither here nor there). You might never be as fast as the person passing you on the outer loop, but you are faster than the person hungover in bed on Saturday morning who made fun of you on Friday night for going home early. So next time you go out there to run, take my mom’s advice because she is really smart, and pretty and stuff:
“concentrate on yourself, _____, it doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing and you can’t control other people or outcomes.”
Unless of course you are H–then you better listen to me or I am going throw a major tantrum. Juuuuuust kidding.
Happy Thursday 🙂