You Are Your Competition

Back Of The Pack- You Are Your Competition
by Amber Hadigan

I subscribe to several running sites where people ask for assistance with running questions and issues. I have noticed on several sites that people, mostly women, will talk a lot about how they do not compare, how they cannot run fast or far, and want to quit or are so upset with themselves because they can’t run a 6 or 8 or even 10 minute mile. They rant and lament and cry.

These are the people I want to dedicate this post to. I want to tell you that I understand, but you are looking at it the wrong way. There are always going to be people who can run faster than you. There are always people who can run farther than you.

I recently saw a post in one running group from a woman who was told that, because she was tall, she could not be a distance runner. Because of what someone said to her, she was considering giving up running, something she loves. From one comment from one uninformed person. I wrote to her, saying that it should not matter what anyone else thinks or says. If you love it, do it. You may not be the best, but you will be doing it from a place of passion deep inside your heart. That is what matters.

We live in a society that expect us to be perfect, to never be slow, need time, or to make a mistake. Women are supposed to be beautiful, demure, and and yet be able to hold a job, raise kids, and run a household without any assistance or stress. When we examine what is expected of us, we know it is wrong, yet we continue to compare ourselves to to this crazy ideal.

This is the lesson: in running, as in most things in life, you are not competing against anyone else. The only person you have to be better than is yourself. When I look at myself, I think of where I was a year ago. I was a couch potato and weighed over 200 pounds. I started running in May as a way to lose weight and deal with stress. So, if I compare myself to where I was at this time last year, I have gone from nothing to being able to run 10 miles at a time, and I have lost almost 20 pounds! I have more energy and my clothes fit better.

When I run a race, I always finish in the last third of the pack. I have seen so many people bemoan the fact that they are at the end of the race, or almost get swept up because the course has a time limit. Here is what these people need to remember: you are out there, doing something good and pure, and you are beating every single person sitting on the couch!

With two-thirds of the American adult population being overweight or obese, and most of them not exercising at all, there are millions of people you are passing just by virtue of being out, running or walking. To put yourself out there, to challenge yourself, is more than most people do.

So to all you people who cry that you aren’t good enough, you are perfect just the way you are. If you walk instead of run, walk. If you run slowly, listen to what your body is capable of doing. You aren’t going to be able to run an 8 minute mile if you have never before run in your life. Be proud of what you can do. Quit comparing yourself to others. The only one worth comparing yourself to is who you were yesterday. If you are further along than you were a day, week, month, or year before, you are a winner, even if you never finish first in your age group in a race.

We spend so much time and energy lamenting what we cannot do. Channel that energy into something positive, and be proud of what you can do. Take pride in what you have accomplished, because getting up off the couch and walking a mile is more than most people do. And if it is more than you previously have done, you have won.

Let us take back our pride in our abilities. You don’t have to be perfect. ¬†You just have to have the love and the desire to make yourself better. Run with pride!

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Amber Hadigan currently lives in Hyde Park, NY with her husband John and her two cats, Sobe and Scrappy. Originally from Wisconsin, she has lived in many different states. Now settled, she spends her time working, freelance writing, and writing and performing folk music. A runner as a child, she began running again in May 2013 and has rediscovered the peace and joy running gives her.

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