Mid-Week Musings: Comparing Yourself to… YOURSELF

I find as I’m coming back from injuring, wishing for the lost days of yore.

We often hear that’s it’s unproductive, and sometimes downright harmful, to compare ourselves to others. Even though we know this, it’s difficult to stop. Someone runs faster, runs longer, and we want to do it too.

And maybe we used to be able to and now we can’t.

I’m finding that it’s not any better to compare yourself to yourself–yourself when you were at a level that for whatever reason you no longer are.

A couple of nights ago I found myself looking at old Instagram pics and seeing paces I’ve not seen in a while.

“I used to run fast,” I told my husband.

“You still do.”

“But I haven’t run at that pace in years,” I sighed.

You’d think I’d understand that I’m coming back from an injury and that I can’t expect to be flying, but I can’t help but think of what was different back in the days when I ran a 25:05 5k. An 8:00/mile pace!! A 2.87 5k (short course) averaging 7:41/mile! And my 5k PR of 24:18–a race done in the freezing Ohio rain.

I’d be lucky if I could run ONE 8 minute mile now.

Why do we do this? Comparison can be used to motivate but it can also cripple someone mentally. There’s such a fine line.

Right now, my old self is on that line. Some days, I look back at those pictures and get pumped. I can do this! I’ve done it! And other days, I feel like there’s no way I’ll see those numbers again.

But I think right now it’s important for me to focus on the present. I shouldn’t be working on becoming someone I was a long time ago, I should work to be a better version of me–in many different ways.

The me then was thrilled to be running after having two kids in two years. That excitement was what helped propel me to paces and PRs that I never ever thought I could achieve. I feel that person now, that excitement to be back running after a shorter hiatus. And I know I’m a better version of myself now than back then because I know more. I know more about training, diet, mental strength. I’m stronger on a lot of levels. And I know that with hard work, I can be faster than back then.

And in the future, I’ll look back at the me now and know I’ve only gotten better.

I got this.


–Do you compare yourself to yourself?
–How do you help yourself focus on the present?

23 responses

  1. I completely relate to comparing myself to myself!! November/December I was pumped with good paces and then twisted my foot and now I’m trying to get back there. It’s a struggle, even though I know that I will. There are days I wonder why I’m even trying and others I’m so excited! We got this!

  2. I am SOOOOOOO on this path right now. Holy hell! This post sounded like a bit of my inner monologue. I was once fast, got injured and now I feel slow…but I know how to come back..I am mentally tougher, better prepared for the work to get back to where I was. And yet thinking about this stuff, it also paralyzes. I feel like we need to start a support group! πŸ˜‰

    As for staying with the present. I take each run a mile at a time…and sometimes a quarter mile at a time. I try to focus on just improving compared to yesterday rather than my pre-injury times. it seems to help a lot.

  3. As someone coming back from what was probably overtraining that led to getting sick and a couple muscle strains, I totally get where you are coming from. The past two months have been kind of rough getting to just where I can run without hurting or feeling like my legs are made of stone. Forget fast!

    I think I’m turning the corner, but I still made the mistake of comparing a similar workout that I did last week to one I did about a year ago. It was kind of depressing. But I’m trying to hang on to the positive, which is that my legs felt like they were finally waking up. I’m glad I put aside my goal of PRing my next race because I can focus on getting well.

    But I miss being faster. 😦

    • I need to do what you’re doing and put aside an PR hopes on my next race. I too, suffered from overtraining and I’m trying really hard to do it right this time. But I miss being faster. You totally get it. xoxo

  4. I totally compare myself to the old me all the time. Even though I haven’t been injured, my progression hasn’t been a smooth linear path. There’s no way I can run close to my HM PR right now. Heck, I think it must have been a fluke!

    BUT I know however long it took to get to that level, it won’t take as long to get back to that level. What’s important to enjoy the journey.

    • Def! I remember training for my first sub 2 hour half marathon and that still remains my favorite race memory because I worked so hard for it. Achieving it was one thing, but the journey towards it is also unforgettable πŸ™‚

  5. oh gosh, I could have written this myself. I saw some 2 year old racing photos and was like, holy crap I was so much lighter and fitter! It’s been almost 2 years since my injury and I’m nowhere near where I used to be. I spent a long time mired in sadness and doubt about it, comparing myself to my old self. But then I woke up and reality set in and just like you said I realized I might not get back to who I used to be, but I have the power to be a better version of me now. And that has helped so much in my running and workout state right now. It’ll come!

  6. I think I have mastered not comparing myself to others because I have accepted we are ALL SO DIFFERENT. But comparing myself to myself? Guilty!!! This is what works for me and keeps me grounding: Know for a FACT that I can’t be in the BEST SHAPE OF MY LIFE all the time. I am not an elite athlete. I enjoy running and want to push myself, but it is not my LIFE. Yes, it is fun to train really hard for something and get into tip top (for ME) shape, but that tip top shape is not sustainable 12 months out of the year. I need down time and slog time so I don’t get burnt out or injured. Reminding myself of all the times I have worked hard and had success comforts me that if I have done it before, I can do it again. πŸ™‚ Thanks for this post, it really got me thinking!

  7. For each of my clients, each of my trainees, I urge them to take themselves as they are right now. Not who they were then, not who they will be, but where are you right now. Embrace it, embrace the challenge, and work for it. Do I wish that I was a) running and b) training for Boston and c) in the shape I was 4 months ago? YOU BET. But I am here, now. And I have to embrace it for what it is. It is a touch conversation to have with yourself, but such a beneficial one.

  8. Hey, I like this post! I remember when I would hammer out sub-1:30 half marathons like it was no big dealio. I was also running 80-100 miles a week too. So, I compare, for sure. But not really in a negative way but just in more of a contemplative way. Like, how can I get that fast again without running that *much*? And I think I’m figuring it out: more speed work, tempo runs at goal race pace, stuff like that.

    As for comparing myself now in character to who I used to be? I’m proud of how far I’ve come in the emotional health department. I really like who I am these days. I really do. And the peace that comes with a huge set of integrity balls is priceless.

  9. I totally get into this with myself. It was especially hard for me this year, when I started off my marathon training season feeling terrible. I started training off for Grandma’s in June with a bang and thought I should always feel like that. But I actually took time off and rested this time around, so of course I felt sluggish. Didn’t help when I would go and read my old training logs and posts and see that I did these same runs faster and effortlessly in previous training cycles. It’s mentally frustrating. But then the speed starts to come back and you start feeling stronger each day. You WILL get back to where you were and then you’ll get even faster. I promise!

    • I kept telling myself that I’d been going non-stop for 2 years, that this break will only help me. I think it is even though it’s tough to accept, lol! I do the same as you, read old training logs and posts and get frustrated but am trying to turn it into motivation, that i’ve done it before and I could do it again, faster πŸ™‚ (hopefully, jaja!!)

  10. WOW can I relate to this. I’m determined to make 2016 the year that I work toward getting “fast” like I used to be. I miss my speed, and I know I can get back there…but I also feel bad about feeling bad about where I am now. I don’t feel BAD really, but I feel like I can do better if I do the work. Thanks for this post – it really spoke to me.

  11. Pingback: Saying No | hellyontherun

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