How many times do we hear about runners trying to compare themselves to other runners? We scroll through Instagram feeds, look at paces and workouts our peers are slaying, and immediately compare our data against theirs, and then down the rabbit hole we go. When we emerge, we seem to be less confident, lose motivation, and get down on ourselves. Unless you are an elite runner who competes for money and sponsorships to put food on the table, comparison is a self-defeating prophecy.
There is a natural, competitive instinct in humans that makes us want to compare. That can be fine but take what other people accomplish or how they train with a grain of salt. Good for them. Cheer them on and support their journey but DO NOT let that affect your journey.
I am here to tell you to stop doing this, like RIGHT NOW. Why diminish your accomplishments and goals by comparing yourself to others? The fact of the matter is that the only thing you should compare your runs against are your own. Trying to compare yourself to other runners will get you nowhere. We are all very different from different body types, different athletic backgrounds, years of experience running, different training styles and YES, even different genetics. All of these are factors for each one of us.
Your journey is all that matters. Once you put the blinders on to the rest of the world and what they are doing, progress will be made, and you will take pride and feel accomplished.
Some things that may help you if you are suffering from the comparison game and are not seeing results that you see everyone else achieving are as follows:
(1) Run by perceived effort rather than pace. Ignore pace altogether, as that is a metric that can vary based on many factors. Running by perceived effort also gets you out of a mindset of hitting a certain pace that may not be appropriate or is not suited to you for getting results.
(2) Do a lot more easy running. And go slow during your easy runs. Like 2-2 ½ minutes slower than your 5K pace is a good start. The slower, the better. Save the energy and effort for actual workouts like tempo or intervals.
(3) Try running by duration rather than mileage. This takes the pressure off the urge to hit a certain mileage and instead will give you the training stimulus you need by just covering the time.
(4) Stop worrying about results in races and use races as a progression to a future goal. You do not have to "race" every race. Some races will be a B or C race where you are not looking to PR but just want to work on specific aspects of running. Maybe it is working on negative splitting, or not going out too fast, or just a pacing strategy you want to try in a race environment. These are all valid reasons to sign up for a race.
At the end of the day, you want to enjoy running, all while seeing how far you can push yourself. Of course, it's ok to have goals and train or push yourself as far and as hard as you can to reach those goals but take pride in the results. Use this as a steppingstone to something more. Celebrate the accomplishments, and STOP worrying so much about what your social media peers are doing or not doing. STOP comparing. START celebrating you and all that you bring to the table.