We’ve all been there. You’re on the treadmill or on the trails and see someone is running faster than you. Pace Envy. It happens. When we start feeling like we need to measure up to someone else’s standard or when we realize our big goal is their easy run, our accomplishments get diminished. Whenever I compare myself to others, I remember I need to let go of envy and work on my goals.
A lot of runners have a Type-A personality, meaning we are always striving to improve. Therefore, we’re always looking to those ahead of us for inspiration. Instead of letting those ahead of you feel like your accomplishments aren’t enough, let them motivate you. After running more than a handful of half marathons in the past few years and seeing some friends and colleagues complete marathons, I thought, “Yeah I could do that, too.” So, last year, I signed up for and ran the Chicago Marathon. It took five months of training and putting my endurance and discipline to the test.
I put in the work.
I knocked out 2 back to back 20 mile runs and lots of long runs at my goal marathon pace.
I did all my pre-hab to prevent injuries.
I focused on high nutrition and hydrating.
After all of the preparation, I was still really nervous. Who wouldn’t be? Previously, I had done all the work and still had races fall apart. I wanted to exceed my expectation. I wanted the PR.
Beyond the PR, my goal was to finish the race in a way that didn’t leave me swearing off marathons forever or making deals with God during mile 24. To achieve that, I think the best thing I did was say, “The finish line isn’t going anywhere, just put one leg in front of the other and get there. Just focus on what makes this race such an amazing experience: the overwhelmingly supportive crowds, the views, the course, the dynamic neighborhoods, the energy, and the unbelievable mass of runners.”
The race ended and I didn’t quite finish in the time I wanted to, and I let myself sulk about it for a few days. Then I realized I had accomplished something only 0.5% of the US population has done. It takes a lot to tackle those inner demons that cause envy. But when you do, you realize how much you’ve accomplished and how far you’ve come since you started.
Focus on the improvements you’ve made.
Remember running pace is not an indication of happiness or being a great person.
Go run with people you actually know, who will remind you that you rock.
Use it as a guide to what is possible with the right work.
Spend time remembering why you love running. It’s usually not just those nice shoes you just got.
Celebrate others’ success. Seriously, be happy for them because they deserve it.
A lot of my fitness journey mirrors my professional life. I compared myself to colleagues, didn’t get the experience I expected, and am not where I thought I’d be by now. A lot of this year has been taking those same tips of handling envy and applying them to my work life. I like to remember why I’m in Student Affairs and the improvements I’ve made since graduate school. I make sure to spend time with those who ground me. I’m sharing this not because it’s fun to expose my inner demons, but because I think it happens to a lot of us. So lace up your shoes, keep running, and focus on your goals, not the runner or colleague next to you!
This post is part of our #SAfit series for April. With the constant hustle and bustle of our profession, we can’t forget to put ourselves at the top of our to-do list sometimes. It is essential that we remember to take time for self care and this series highlights how our colleagues work #SAfit into their lifestyles. This can look different for each of us and your journey is your own. For more info, please see Mandi Stewart’s intro post. Be sure to check out the other posts in this series too!