On Wednesday morning I did my last run before the Army Run 5k. I knew I wasn't going to run again before Sunday due to my schedule so I took a lot of time to think about how this summer had been and well, I'm proud of me. I know we're not supposed to say that. I think we should.
The thing about running is this -- when we run we're surrounded by numbers. There's our time. Our pace. Our distance. Then, if you are like so many of us, other people's time, pace and distance. It's really easy to think that we should be like them. We should run farther and faster. That somehow our progress isn't good enough.
If you spend a lot of time online or around runners you'll meet all kinds of people. You'll meet the super supportive ones that have your back. You'll meet the ones that think that anyone who takes a walking break, "only" runs 5ks, or is a slower runner aren't real runners. You'll meet the ones that think only real runners run marathons or ultras. You'll meet assholes. You'll also meet really supportive people.
Sometimes those supportive people (and the assholes) will be better runners than you. They can run longer distances. They have faster times for miles than you have for kilometers. Maybe they are training for a marathon while you are still struggling to run 5k. Maybe they make it look easy, even though the easy runs still aren't easy for them.
With running, perhaps more than with any other thing, it's so easy to take someone else's middle or best and compare it to my beginning. It's easy for me to say that I should be running longer distances or I should take shorter walking breaks. Or no walking breaks. That I should run faster. My pace should be better. It doesn't matter that they run more often or that they actually have a training schedule whereas I am so very willy-nilly about when and how long I run. If other people can do it so I should be able to as well even though my expectations are unrealistic. With running, I frequently fall into comparing myself against other people's accomplishments and I come up short every single time. All of those numbers make it so very easy to fall into that comparison trap. I'm trying to break the habit.
On Wednesday, instead of thinking about how I'm not running as far as I wished to on a regular basis or how I'm so not going to hit the time I'd dreamed I'd hit on Sunday, I thought about how I'm doing well. I can see my progress. I am running longer distances than I was in May. I am taking shorter walking breaks. My average pace is faster than when I started the seaon. When I stack my progress up against what my friends are able to do it may not look all that impressive, but when I stack up my progess and compare it to myself? I have no reason not to be proud of me.
The next time you find yourself comparing your progress to someone who runs marathons, or to someone who got a publishing contract, or whatever your personal kryptonite is stop for moment. Look back as what you have accomplished. You may not be at the same point as someone else but that doesn't mean that you haven't accomplished plenty.
I am proud of me. Are you proud of you?