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Comparing Your Running to Others: Does it Motivate You or Drive You into Physical Therapy?

Posted Oct 07 2011 10:05pm

I have a confession to make.

I’m a runner stalker comparerer. (Yes, I made up that word: comparerer.)


I can’t help it.

I’ve found other runners who run a zillion miles each week and I thrive on stalking their running posts, tweets, and blogs; tallying up their mileage; ogling their fast pace; and then feeling like I really should be running longer, faster, harder.

In the past, this comparison issue has caused hamstring problems. It’s made me frustrated, led to over training and caused some running burnout.

It even caused tendonitis. (Yes, I’m blaming my old running injury on Comparerism.)

If I knew someone who started running AFTER me, but who ran MORE than me and FASTER than me and FARTHER than me, I got frustrated.

I thought, “Why am I not doing this?”

“What am I doing wrong?”

“Why am I not THERE?”

So I ran more.

And then I get injured.

I’m glad to say I’m growing up; at least a little.

I’m still a comparerer but I know my body’s limits and I try really hard to stay within those now.

I know I’m not alone in this. I believe I have my own runner stalker comparerer who tries to keep up with my workout schedule. I run 5, she runs 7; I cycle 10, she cycles 20.

One day I want to say I ran 60 to see what she responds.

Maybe all runners are (obsessed) interested in (stalking) comparing numbers with others. Maybe this is what drives us: knowing what can be done, and wanting to determine if we can, indeed, do it.

I never feel frustrated with the other runners. I’m happy they are able to accomplish more miles or a faster pace.

At the same time I wonder why their hamstrings don’t seize up like nerves stabbed by ice picks when they don’t follow the ten percent increase rule; when they skip stretching and yoga and massage; or when they follow a 20 miler with a ten miler the very next day.

I’m going to stop comparing now.

I have put myself on an Anti-Comparison Campaign.

When I find myself reading a runner’s numbers, I’ll do ten pushups.

If my itchy fingers begin to type their names in my search box so I can look up their latest race pace, I’ll do fifteen jumping jacks.

I will remove myself from all social media that notes how many miles people have run and at what pace, unless they are slower than me. (Well, okay, I’m not going THAT far.)

Then again, maybe this comparison thing is the push I need to keep me motivated.

Do you compare yourself to other runners, and, if so, does it push you beyond your limits or does it keep you motivated in a healthy way to see what you can accomplish or how far and fast you can go?


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