Thursday, December 10, 2009

Stop judging yourself!

Be warned -- a bit of a rant ahead . . .

Stop judging yourself!

That's me (The Happy Runner) yelling at the other me (The Self-Judgmental Runner) for getting into a yuck-o running funk where I tell myself that I suck as a runner. Where I judge my abilities and determine that they are sub-par. Where I look at what I've accomplished and feel like it's not enough.

Stop judging yourself!

What I should probably be saying is, stop comparing yourself to the rest of the running blogosphere.* It's not exactly productive.

See, that's what has been happening. Counter-productive comparisons. Gradually, since I started blogging and reading other people's blogs, I've started to look at the number of miles they run each week, or the speed of their 5ks, or the number of marathons they run each year, or whatever, and I compare myself to what they're doing. What you're doing. And I've let it get me down and it is silly.

Back when I ran my first (and, so far, only) marathon, I was SO HAPPY with my time. I wasn't a super runner and I trained by myself just tacking on miles to my long, solo run each week. I thought I'd run a 4:20 and I crossed the line in 4:12. Talk about a happy moment! That year, my husband gave me a framed 8 x 10 of me with arms-raised-in-triumph crossing the finish the line. And I love it.

But, somewhere from there to now, I started to think that it wasn't so great. Another blogger wrote about how she's seeking "marathon redemption" in 2010 after running her first marathon this year in 4:11. Hey, that's only one minute faster than I ran! Should I be seeking marathon redemption? Was my time actually a cruddy time?

And then there are the days when I go for enjoyable 5-milers and then read about others who've logged 16 speedy miles. And I feel like a chump.

If so-and-so can run that fast, why can't I? If so-and-so can run that much, why can't I? If so-and-so can run that many races, why can't I? What is WRONG with me?

What's wrong? For starters, I'm not taking my own advice. I am not running my own race. I'm looking at what others are doing, comparing myself to them, and coming up short. I'm being judgmental -- and overly harsh in those judgments. Instead of running my own race, I'm trying to fit a mold. But there isn't one mold. There are many and I need to realize that my life is its own mold and it is a perfectly fine one at that. I need to run my own race. I need to stop judging myself!

If a friend spoke about herself the way I've been talking to myself, I'd let her have it. I wouldn't stand for it! So, I shouldn't stand for it when it comes from me.

Easier said than done, I'm afraid.

I want to be a better runner, just as I want to always strive to be a better mom and a better wife and a better friend, daughter, writer, and person in general. I guess I just need to find the balance between striving and being overly self-critical.

Am I alone here? Gosh, I hope not. But, in keeping with my advice, if I am, I guess I need to accept that. And run my own race. Stop judging myself. Just get on with it.

I need to get back to being as happy with my accomplishments as I am with everyone else's accomplishments. Fear not -- I'm not going to get all Stuart Smalley here. I'm just going to work on not judging myself when I run. Or when I don't run. Or when I don't run as fast as I'd like to. Or . . . you get the picture.

Have you struggled with comparisons? Self-judgments? How have you shaken the thoughts?

I, as always, appreciate any and all advice :-)

Have a great day, everyone!

~ Felice

* It might seem like I'm blaming blogs, and I'm most definitely not. Reading running blogs, and the comments left here, have helped me to become a much better and smarter runner! I love this virtual community!

41 comments:

Manderz said...

I feel you 100%. I am a newer runner. I am an overweight runner. I am a runner that doesnt run sub 9 min/miles. I often wonder if other runners read my blog and laugh when I say I am happy that I ran a half marathon in 2:26. For the most part I try not to compare myself to others but I think its human nature. I have to remind myself often that I have come a LONG way.

You are an amazing runner, an amazing mom & an amazing blogger. Try to focus on those things.
<3

Mel-2nd Chances said...

You are not alone, and you are right, easier said than done, but you *should* take your own advice. I don't worry about paces anymore. When I read other bloggers that post paces, in my mind it's like ... 'Oh, that's nice." I, in turn, don't post mine. Then I don't feel the need to do any sort of comparison. I'm a much slower runner than you, but I don't fit the fictitious mold, and never will. I am who I am, and can only run as fast as my legs will carry me. I, however, am not in it for the time. I started out running as an adult. If i finish at the end of the pack, my medal will be just the same as all those ahead of me with the more impressive paces, and the distance will have been the same.

The Big Blue Dog said...

Great Post! I am right there with you. I trained for 2 months for a 10K over thanksgiving. My goal was to finish under an hr. My collegate athlete sister decided to run it with me with. She beat my time by a min and i finished 1:00:54 seconds throwing up as I crossed the finish line! I was thrilled. But then I started beating myself up about finishing after her, getting sick, and those 54 seconds!

I just remind myself why I do this. The only person I am racing is myself and its about completion not competition!

Denise said...

I don't do that so much with the running but I do it with the eats and weight loss success stories of others. You just told yourself exactly what you need to do and you know how to do it. This is your race and you're being successful at it...let yourself enjoy it.

Staci Dombroski said...

I totally understand what you are saying. I am here comparing myself to you because I have not even run a full marathon yet. However, I would be soooo excited with your time!!! I think you are doing a great job :-)

Rachel Wasserman said...

Felice - I have been reading your blog in the shadows for a few months now. I'm sorry to hear that you are stuck (temporarily) in those of those self-critical perspectives. Given that you clearly know what you need to do to dig yourself out of this hole, I just want to say that I find you inspirational and immensely enjoy reading your blog regardless of what pace you run.

Suzy said...

It can be hard not to compare yourself to others, especially when it is so easy in bloggyland to find someone faster. I think a big reason I don't run many races is because I will never be the fastest (or anywhere close). Running for myself without all the other people to compare myself to is much easier on the ego. GL finding your running happy place again.

ShutUpandRun said...

So appropriate that you wrote this blog today. A runner friend and I have been having this very conversation. She just ran her second marathon and feels like it's not enough, like she's not enough. I feel this way quite often myself - that I'm not good enough or just "enough" in general in my roles as mom, wife, professional, runner, daughter, the list goes on. It's funny how the mind wants to tell us these things and we actually believe them!! Comparison and jealousy are deadly. I am trying to watch my thoughts and when those things come up, I notice them and let them go. I think a common denominator in all of us is that we feel inadequate, even if you run 2:30 marathons, there is someone somewhere running faster. It is NEVER enough, so the important thing is getting right with yourself and like you said, running your own race and living your own life in a way that you are proud of. However that looks. OK, done babbling. Great post, should bring up some good discussion!

Colin Hayes said...

I hope its okay that I'm the only guy commenting so far...but I have to say that you're DEFINITELY not alone in how you feel. There is ALWAYS someone faster and ALWAYS someone slower than us. The online running community is an amazing resource. I just got back into running this year and have learned a lot from other blogs & podcasts. But there's also the risk of putting pressure on ourselves when we start comparing our results to others. I do the same thing. In fact, I struggle with comparing my times now to when I was in high school and even THAT sometimes stresses me out. I just try to focus on the fact that I'm out running, not sitting on the couch, and even that is an accomplishment. Sure, faster times & more miles would be great, but just enjoying the experience from a personal perspective is more rewarding than the constant comparisons (I'm mostly preaching to myself here ;-)
All that said, you're faster than you think you are! Keep up the great work!

J said...

I have felt the same way. I read about everyone else running a marathon and I think well why don't I do that? I feel because I don't exactly have the inner desire to run a marathon something is wrong with me....so I understand where you are coming from! Im not logging lots of miles but I need to remember that I am enjoying running even if its only 2 miles!

April said...

Wow....you definitely are not alone! It's like you read my mind!!
I set my goals for 2010 and was very happy with them. Then I started to read other runner's 2010 goals and started to feel that mine didn't measure up. I don't have any marathons on my goal list...maybe I should start looking into that. After all, a true runner would have a marathon on the books..
So I try to take a step back and just be thankful for what I can do and what I have accomplished..
I am new to the whole blog world and I wish I would have had all of this useful info years ago! It doesn't seem like you are blaming blogs at all.:)
Congratulations on what you have accomplished and on an awesome blog!!

Morgan said...

Girl we ALL do this! When I have a crap run and see someone else killed it out there I get jealous. I want to run fabulous every day and be speedy but ya know what? I can't and I'm not. I run according to my training plan and sometimes I can be speedy when needed; i.e. a race. But overall I feel like I'm a middle of the pack runner and not worthy to write my blog... but then I remember that oh so famailiar statement you quoted; "Run your own Race" I can only strive to be a better me. Maybe someday I'll BQ, maybe I won't but everyday that I run I learn more about myself as a runner and that makes me a better runner. Listen to your own advice and remember to run for yourself. You are a fantastic runner and 4:12is an AWESOME finish time!

Kenley said...

Very Good Post Felice. ......and it is the truth. Us as runners go at our own pace, not others. You could hinder yourself by doing that. It's YOUR race, not any one elses. Enjoyed the read. Keep it up. Very thought provoking.

Marlene said...

I've caught myself doing this so many times. "Well if s/he can run this much/far/fast, why can't I?"

The truth is, we will never be satisfied if we're comparing ourselves to others. Sure, we may be "better" than some but there will always be many who are "better" than us. Butthat's the beauty of the running/blog world - we are all different! Different abilities/strengths/weaknesses/lives/bodies/schedules/ETC. I just have to remind myself over and over that it's NOT a competition and the only person I should be comparing myself to is... MYSELF!

Katie A. said...

You said it yourself "Run your own race." It is harder said then done. We all read and write these blogs in hope to improve ourselves and sometimes we actually feel worse. I try hard not to compare myself to others and somedays I am good and somedays I am bad. Don't ever feel bad about your time - you finished a marathon in an awesome time and that is all that matters!
Go out and have a good run today. That is always what makes me feel better. Happy Thursday.

Nicki and Mathis said...

This is SUCH a great post! I'm JUST getting started on my running journey, and I have started to get down on myself. I really appreciate these thoughts! Thanks for the encouragement!! :)

sarah said...

wonderful post! i agree with everything you wrote! i am all about numbers and stats, but i only should care about beating ME -- not anyone else. and most of the time that's true, but sometimes it's easy to get in the comparison game! lovely reminder to KEEP IT REAL -- other than those doing it professionally, we truly run for ourselves, anyway!

lindsay said...

i TOTALLY agree!! some days i get caught up in comparing myself to other running bloggers i follow, but i have to slap myself around a little and remind myself that it's not a race against them - it's a race against myself. there will always be someone who is better than you at something and accepting who you are (and where you are) is important in life!

whether you run 20 mpw or 100, you are still a runner! you are still out battling the elements, squeezing running into your schedule and pushing your limits.

Lori Lynn said...

That is good advice. It is hard to not compare yourself to other people. I don't necessarily compare myself as far as running, but I do have a bad tendency to compare myself as far as weight and body size. I'd like to be able to run farther, and get there faster, but you just have to "run" at a steady pace. It takes patience though, which sometimes is hard to have!!

Tina at Gotta Run Now said...

I use other runner's fast or long workouts as inspiration and also I try to learn from them.

Just the fact that you enjoy going for a run when many people don't is something to be happy about!

MCM Mama said...

I'm totally guilty of the same thing. In fact, I just recently decided to scale back my running because the only reason I was running long runs right now was because other people were.

I have to keep reminding myself that there will always be people who are faster and can run farther and I just need to do what *I* can do.

Heather said...

I do the same thing! I also struggle with being competetive with my sister when it comes to running. I use the "run your own race" mantra a lot too. I also try to really focus on all the improvements I've made in my running and find satisfaction in that.

Molly said...

I compare myself with friends who started running after I gave them the encouragement to start, and now they're faster than me! I try to remind myself that I run for me, and no one else, so I make my own goals and when I attain them, it's awesome.

aron said...

i definitely know you are not alone. i think its instinct to compare ourselves to other people and no matter where we are in the pack, there is always someone who is faster, runs more miles, etc... but you know its all about YOUR own journey and your own race as you said. make sure you stay focused on how awesome YOU are and how amazing YOUR accomplishments are because they are yours and no one elses :)

Quix said...

Sounds like you caught a bit of a case of what I was feeling yesterday. I'm not qualified at all to give advice here (and there is a lot of great advice above), but here's a bit of serendipity for ya. I read my blogs in an RSS feed, and the one above yours - the title of her latest post was "Don't Judge".

So I guess my advice, straight from Mara, is don't judge. :)

onelittletrigirl said...

Can I copy and past this and call it my own? CAUSE I FEEL LIKE THAT TOO!! It is tough- and I don't blame blogs either...but I see what you mean. I think you hit a lot of points that many can relate with. I appreciate you putting this out there :)

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Abby said...

Have definitely been there!

X-Country2 said...

I know exactly what you're talking about. I think we all do it. You're a great runner. Keep it up!

ptg said...

So incredibly, INCREDIBLY true.

I've been doing the same thing with my co-worker...I keep comparing myself to her: our weight loss, our running times, our races...it's ridiculous. I know I should only care about my own times, my own effort - have *I* pushed myself hard enough?

Thank you for posting my own exact thoughts!

Meg Runs said...

I really needed this today, just see my post! Ugh, I need to get over this!

Mel -Tall Mom on the Run said...

I find that the best thing for me is to compare myself to ME. I am seaking Marathon redemption, not because my time was Bad, it is a very respectable Marathon Finish time. I am seaking Marathon redeption because I did not run what I am capable of running that day. My body gave out at mile 12, my head gave out when I wet my pants (TMI) and I had to walk for much of the second half of the race. It was nothing close to what I can do, regardless of what others do..

Anyhow...I LOVE to compare myself to the post kiddos me. The person who could run a 5K in just under 30 minutes.. Because that was where I started and I have come sooo far since then.

Hope this makes sense.

Thank you for your honesty! The fact that you are out there plugging along and sharing your thoughts is amazing!

jillwillrun said...

This is a great post... I sometimes fall victim to the same things. And even a little while I was reading this post I thought to myself, "I've done multiple marathons and haven't done as well as a 4:12 yet, I totally suck!" But I love how everyone encourages and cheers for each other in the blogosphere. We just need to remember to encourage and cheer for ourselves!

joyRuN said...

Oh, Felice. I know exactly how you feel. It's so damn frustrating.

Just this morning, I was determined to break up with swimming as soon as I started comparing my stroke count to other people's. It sucked the fun I was having in the pool.

I have to remember to stop comparing my progress to anyone else's. There will always be people faster, & there will always be people slower.

Chris@RunningCatholic.com said...

Nicely said. Reading running blogs, we can get a skewed sense of what sort of pace we "should" be setting. Next time you worry about others' stats, recall that most Americans can't even complete a 5k. We all have different gifts, what matters only is that we put them to good use!

Lorian said...

But on the other side of that you have the people who read your blog and feel the same way you when reading the number of miles you have completed each month. Heck, the one marathon I did was 5:32. If I did it in 4:12, I would have been thrilled! But, to be honest, I don't see myself ever doing another marathon and if I did, it wouldn't be 4:12. You just have to realize that you will always be in the middle with people looking up to you and you looking up to others. That's what I need to motivate me, plus how boring to be at the top! Hope all the comments have helped you feel a little better about the numbers!

Hannah said...

I am so late on this, but I had to comment because what you are saying is so true for many aspects of life...not just running. So thank you for the little reminder. As a Mom I feel like I fall into this negative self-talk, comparison, etc. every so often and it isn't fun. I'm glad to read a later post to see that you are feeling better. Keep up the good work. You're helping me remember just how amazing running is. Thank you!

Shawn said...

I'll tell you what, next time you get a little down on yourself, you can come visit my blog :D After a year of steady running I still can't get blow 11min/mile pace - even for a 5K!

I've had to learn to stop comparing myself to others, and simply judge my performance based on MY PAST performances.

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