Comparing Ourselves to Others
Comparing Ourselves to Others: The Worst Trait to Possess as a Runner. It’s “mostly” natural for runners to compare their own performances to others, but it becomes a problem when these comparisons start hurting the runners confidence and performance. When we compare ourselves to others, we can feel envious of these runners, even if they’re someone we don’t personally know. If you are racing there will always be numbers ranking us, making it easy for us to compare ourselves to anyone else. This social comparison can be harsh as someone else will always be better than you. The harder we are on ourselves the harder it is to regain our motivation and we are less likely to achieve the goals we do set. So, the more we compare, the worse we will do.
Comparison puts focus on something you have absolutely no control over which puts yourself in a very frustrating situation. When we focus on the strengths of other runners, we’re not focusing on our own strengths. It can also make us think about our own weaknesses. Concentrating on other runners will make us put these runners on a pedestal, and make us feel small in comparison. It makes it hard for us to focus on what we need to focus on and stay in the moment. In order to feel confident, we shouldn’t be dwelling on the success of anyone else. Everyone comes from a different background. Some of the most important things to remember is that your age, gender, training level, nutritional habits, genetics, current fitness level, as well as health history will affect how you respond to training. Even identical twins will have a different progression with fitness. No two individuals react to a training program in the same way. Everyone’s fitness journey will be unique.
To help with this negative comparing here are some tactics to try:
• Try to focus on Temporal Comparison. This is where you look at how you’re doing compared to where you were in the past and where you would like to eventually be. You can then make clear plans to get to where you want to go. This helps you feel much more in control. In doing this you become more self-aware and can understand your motivations and ambitions better. If we tie this in with our own values we can feel authentic in the route we take.
• Remind yourself that the perfection you see in others is just an ILLUSION. You’re only seeing the “fake social media perfection” of other runners. Yes, comparison is the biggest problem with social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Strava. People are more likely to show positive situations than negative ones. This causes us to overestimate the presence of positivity in the lives of others. This means we are comparing ourselves with an incomplete picture of someone else’s. You may see the great race result of another runner but not the sacrifices they have gone through in training. You see the “picture perfect day” posted on social media but not the hardship 5 minutes before the pictures were taken. There is always a far more realistic story behind everyone’s performance and fitness level.
• We beat ourselves up for not ‘trying hard enough’ yet we are on a different journey in life. If you compare yourself to other people around you those people start to become enemies, instead of your friends. Benchmarking their successes to evaluate ourselves will make us jealous and bitter rather than supportive and excited for them. If you find yourself succumbing to this then a good point to remember is that “we become like those we surround ourselves with”. Surround yourself with successful, hard working runners and some of their elements will brush off on us.
• Celebrate your running achievements. What performances made you happy and confident? What is great about you? And don’t be humble. If you find this hard to do then there’s that saying “fake it to you make it”. What this means is that you simply imagine that you’re successful. Convince yourself that you’ve done a great job. This imagination eventually will turn into reality.
• Remember to write down your successes. Keep a journal and note down when you have been proud of something you have worked hard towards and achieved. This could be as simple as crushing a workout that has challenged you in the past. When you find yourself starting to compare with others pull out a note and read through it.
• If you can’t keep yourself from comparing yourself to others, try studying the person you are envious of and understand what it is you envy. Then work out how you can achieve that. What made this person successful? Make a plan for how you can possess these positive traits. You can also try writing down a few things you could learn from them to help you get closer to what they have achieved. When you find yourself starting to get jealous look over these, remind yourself you are on a different journey then them and pick one of the things you.