This is a blog post I’ve written in my head dozens of times, usually while I’m running. I am sure it’s one that dozens of other running bloggers have written as well. I’m also fairly certain it’s something all runners struggle with at one point or another. And yet, here I am, writing about it and doing it pretty constantly.
When it comes to my running, I’m very proud of how far I’ve come and the progress I’ve made in the last 12 months. For instance, I can decide one day to go run eight miles because that’s what feels good on that particular day. At this time last year, I couldn’t run two miles without taking many walk breaks, and my pace was several minutes slower per mile.
In the last six months, I have run a handful of 5Ks and three half marathons and I continually contemplate signing up for the full 26.2. And when I look back over the last year, I’m blown away at who I’ve become as a runner and how that has made me a stronger, better person.
And yet…Yet I am still comparing myself to other runners, constantly wishing I was stronger and faster. I am often berating myself for not being able to do more races, longer training runs, more speed work. After all the progress, amazing personal achievements, why isn’t it enough for me? I don’t have the answer, but I wish I did. Because it IS enough. The races I’ve run, the PRs I’ve achieved, the new distances. Everything I do, it’s because I love this sport more than I ever thought possible. And when I compare myself to others, I’m only cheating myself.
I have quite a few friends who have been running for years, who are faster than me, who can run ten miles in the morning, work all day and then go to spin class in the evening. I have a friend who ran 3:15 last year, AT Boston, in the horrible heat. I have a different friend who runs a marathon every two weeks, who never seems to get tired. It’s a never-ending list of faster splits, farther distances from friends and running buddies, fellow bloggers, strange people who show up to running group events.
And I have to constantly remind myself, I am not them. I don’t know their story, but I do know mine. I am not twenty-five years old anymore. I can’t run for two hours in the morning before dashing off to work and taking a shower there. I can’t run right after work, I can’t hit them gym on my way home.
My story is not theirs. I am thirty-two years old and I’ve been running consistently for less than one year. I have two kids who need me in the morning to get them up and ready for the day by 7:00. I have to rush home from and make dinner for those same kiddos, so that Kaleena can be in bed by 6:00, lest we anger the sleep monster. I have to fit in bath times, snuggles, and silly stories before I’m able to put on my running clothes. I get up earlier on the weekends than I do on the weekdays so I can fit in a long run and still get home to make pancakes and have a family breakfast.
This is my story. It makes me who I am. I don’t need to compare my running times and paces to other runners, it’s not a competition. I don’t need to compare my training goals to anyone else, I run for me. Yes, I want to get better and running with my faster friends will certainly help me get there. But in the end, I run for me. I run because it brings me peace and clarity in my crazy hectic life. I run because I like the challenge of setting goals and achieving them. I run because I love it. And that IS enough.