In her latest Fast10 blog Natasha Cockram talks about how we all spend too much time comparing ourselves to others instead of focusing on our own running.

By the nature of the sport, being a runner easily results in comparison. We love times, numbers and data. Today comparing has been taken to new levels with social media, Garmin’s and other devices recording cadence, elevation, and everything else we could possibly use to compare; all linked to apps such as Strava and Garmin connect, where as we can compare our own training and that of other athletes. 

We often compare, and instead of seeing how far we have come, most of the time we only see how far we have to go. Not only does comparison leave us with self-doubt and lack of confidence, but it also prevents us from being present in the moment. Being completely engrossed in the now is essential when it comes to running. Focusing on the present moment will force you to stop overthinking (something us runners are also very good at) and will boost your awareness of how you interpret and react to what’s happening around you.  This is absolutely essential when it comes to racing and performance, so that you are able to react to how your body feels or reacts to other competitors. 

Theodore Rosevelt’s well known quote “Comparison is the thief of joy” explains how comparing your work, your life or whatever else will only serve to make you unhappy. This rings true for athletes as well. We can become so fixated on what other people are doing, what they can do better than us and what they have that we don’t, that we forget to enjoy the here and the now. We forget to enjoy the journey we are on as individuals, and what we do have. The only way we are going to be comfortable within ourselves and be confident in our own ability is if we focus on ourselves and our own potential. 

The perception of our own success

I’ve come to realise that much of our stress, frustration, disappointment, guilt and regret is the result of our preconceived ideas about how we should be running, acting, looking or how our personal success is perceived by others. It’s important to take a step back and be okay with who we are and where we are at in our process rather than focusing our energy on where we want to be.

In my own experience I have known myself to complete a workout, return home feeling confident and happy with where I am at until I’ll be scrolling through social media and find myself reading about fellow competitors’ workouts and find myself second guessing my workout. This comparison game would leave me on edge and less confident in my own fitness, while questioning myself whether I should be doing the same as them. The rational side of me knows that no build up between two athletes is the same and just because one workout works for one athlete it doesn’t mean it will work for me. 

Something else I often have to remind myself of is we only see snippets. If you scroll through social media, it seems everyone is winning at life. That’s simply because we choose to share our “wins” and very few people share their failures. Of course, we don’t want to be viewing failure after failure as that would make feeds a very depressing place to visit. However, I think it is important to share some hardships amongst the successes. 

Find your own path

It’s important to remember that there is no single way to an end result or goal. Everyone has their own paths and own barriers to get over. Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are. And watching someone else go for it would be upsetting to a person who spent a lifetime building cases for why they can’t. 

Natasha Cockram features in the ‘Fast 10: class of 2019’ and over the course of the year will share her running journey. You can follow Natasha on Twitter and Instagram, while further information about the ‘class of 2019’ can be found here.

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