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Why You Need To Stop Comparing Yourself To Other Runners

I have some very talented running friends, they’re amazing and inspiring. Normally reading about their exploits gives me a positive vibe. I’m encouraged to train harder, enter races, and become a better runner.

But at other times I start comparing myself to these exceptional running friends in a negative way. I start despairing that this battered body of mine can never run any faster and will never be good enough. I lose track of my main reasons for running: being fit, staying healthy, and for the pure love of movement.

Stop right there if you find yourself wistfully looking at other runners’ performances and times. These are the reasons you need to stop comparing yourself to other runners

Stop comparing yourself to other runners

If You’re A Beginner Runner

When you first start running it takes time for your body to build strength and endurance and you can’t expect to run as well as your more experienced friends overnight. The worst thing you can do at this stage is get carried away and push yourself too hard. It’s the main reason beginner runners get injured – trying to do too much too soon.

Be patient: slowly build up your mileage and running distances and wait until you have at least 6 months of running experience before introducing any speedwork.

Enjoy your running. Beginner runners make rapid progress so remember how you felt when you first started running and how much easier running has become.

running for beginners tips

Your Body Is Unique

Just as there’s no typical runner’s body, every runner is unique and has a different story. I’ve been running for over 30 years and my body carries the scars of a life well lived. I have to remind myself to be grateful that I’m still running.

There will always be someone with more natural talent, a body shape better suited to running, and fresher legs. Instead of getting hung up on what you can’t do, just enjoy what you can. Find the type of running that suits you – it could be road or trail, fast-paced 5Ks, marathons, or even ultra running.

Running is about exploring your body’s capabilities, exploiting your strengths, and working on your weaknesses. As a teenager, I discovered I could keep going during ultra-distance events when the guys I trained with started to fall apart. That’s my strength – you need to find yours.

Everyone Has Different Reasons For Running

Why do you run? Be honest here. If you’re a pro athlete or elite runner it will be an all-consuming driver in your life. It takes over everything from what you eat, to your daily routine and sleep patterns.

By all means, be inspired by your favorite athletes, but don’t try and do what they do. Your running and training program must match what you’re trying to get out of the sport.

Balancing work and family life with being a runner, is about priorities. It’s hard to give your loved ones the time they deserve when you’re 100% focused on training for a big event. This seems especially true for women. We still carry the bulk of child-rearing responsibilities and I see so many female friends disappear from the running scene in their 30s and 40s only to reappear when their children have left home.

Be aware of your lifestyle choices. I’ve known a lot of exceptional runners over the years and most of them aren’t much fun at parties. A friend once famously complained that we were keeping her awake at the bells in Scotland on New Year’s Eve. There are no right or wrong attitudes to running but if the social side of running is more important to you than performance, embrace it.

It’s your running choices and your body. You may not be winning races but you’ll still be far fitter and healthier than the average person sat on the couch. So stop comparing yourself to other runners, it’s all about your unique running journey – own it!

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