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Do You Judge Yourself Against Others?

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
7/10/2010 9:43 AM   :  168 comments   :  18,162 Views

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There is something about my type A, perfectionist personality, which in the past, stood in my way of pushing beyond lifeís obstacles. Even if I gave my best, if others were losing at a faster rate, I deemed myself as a failure. The same is true with my running. But fortunately, I was able to put an end to that way of thinking after being taught a lesson by a gentleman who refused to let others keep him from his goals.

About a year into my running I decided to step outside the comforts of working one on one with a running coach to see what it would be like to run with a group. I signed up for a speed training class at my local running specialty store. I remember coming to the class excited to embark on the next chapter into becoming a more efficient runner. I was nervous, but comfortable in my ability, after all I had been working with a coach for almost a year.

The class took place on a cold February evening. We introduced ourselves to one another and thatís when I realized I was the second oldest in the group and only one of four women runners. I was beginning to feel my confidence waver. Our coach had us run the one mile trek to the local high school track where we ran 3 miles and when we were done we were to shout out our time.

I was one of the last runnerís to arrive to the track, huffing and puffing as I did my best to keep up. Now I was feeling like I did not belong. Our coach blew the whistle and off we went. The young guys and gals took the inside fast lanes as the slower runners, like me, kept to the outer lanes. As time passed, the faster runners were lapping me and then some of the slower runners started picking up steam and started passing me. At 20 minutes the first runners started shouting out their times. Here I was still trying to get to mile 2. I was feeling defeated as everyone else had completed their mission. The coach shouted to me and the older guy, who was all of 68 and trailing less than 200 meters behind me, to see how far we had gone. We hit the 30 minute mark and I was still only 2.75 miles into my run. The others were standing around talking and waiting and I felt so pressured that I told him I could stop. Surprisingly, Richard-the older man was not too far behind me-said he wanted to finish his 3 miles and he did.

The next week I vowed not to be intimated by the younger, faster runners. Fortunately, we had a new female member in the group who was 10 years older. Now I knew I wouldnít be the last female runner to finish .

We started the evening doing a nice warm-up followed by running 800 meters at a pre-determined pace followed by a nice 400 meter walk only to repeat the scenario for the next 4 sessions. I decided I was not going to be last. I was going to do my best, but having never done this type of training, I did not pace myself from the get go. I started out way too fast and totally bonked as Mary, the older runner, flew past me. I was totally humiliated as the group once again waited for me and my old running pal Richard to come in.

I was devastated and sadly, I never returned to the class. .

Looking back I wonder why at that time I expected more from myself than I had the ability to do. After all isnít that why I was taking the class, to become a faster more efficient runner? Several months after the class, I ran into Richard at a local race. He asked me how I was doing and was glad to see I was still running. He told me he really didnít gain too much in the speed department but he finished out the class. He said he wasnít there to compete against runners who were 20-40 years his junior, but to compete against himself. He was not there to judge their ability, but his own.

I learned a lot that year as a runner. I vowed never to let anyone intimidate me or better yet, let myself not trust my ability. I vowed that if I ever became a running coach I would cheer on the oneís bringing up the rear as much as those who finished with a personal best. Our journey is not to judge ourselves against others, but to do the best we can where we are. That was 3 1/2 years ago and I am proud to say I never gave up on my dream to become the BEST runner I can be.

HAPPY SPARK RUNNING!

Do you judge yourself against others? Do you allow others to intimidate you?


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Comments

  • 168
    I love this story. I struggle with comparing myself to others with everything that I do. Work, school, activities. I remember taking canoe paddling lessons and expected myself to pick up paddling with no problem. Well the coach thought I needed practice and asked a group of us if we could meet on saturday to practice. I was crushed. And I never went back.
    On a positive note, I know and feel comfortable about myself. I know what I am capable of. I still compare myself time to time which is a nasty habit that I need to kick. - 7/24/2010   2:09:25 PM
  • 167
    Thank you for sharing this I thought I was alone. I am a slow runner. I was so humiliated in one race because I came in last. I actually considered not ever racing again. I was one of the oldest runners there. They were all young college students. The race was supposedly open to the public apparently I was the only one off campus who heard about it. It was the worst race ever for me but I kept running after that and have improved a lot. I'd like to say that I will go back and run it next year but I also learned something about myself that day. I don't run well in below 20 degrees weather. And I'm not ever going to compete solely against college students again. I was in college 20 years ago. I now stick to races with real people..not track stars. :) - 7/23/2010   11:48:55 AM
  • 166
    I needed to read this. I've been hanging around a lot of 20 and 30 somethings lately (none of whom have ever been super morbidly obese) and feeling kind of low about how I look (struggling with maintenance, skin flaps, stuff sagging, etc.)

    Coming from where I did, I'm living an amazing second life. Who cares where those people are on their paths? I'm living out an adventure of high order. I mean, how many women in their mid-40s lose 180 lbs, take up whitewater kayaking, and are paddling low class IV rapids less than a year into it?!

    I need to give myself a break. - 7/19/2010   4:23:41 PM
  • 165
    that's an absolutely beautiful story. It's good to remember that we are the only ones that we can perfect - 7/18/2010   1:45:25 PM
  • PSYCHOJULES
    164
    I so needed to read this today--just yesterday i jumped back in the pool after a 2-week hiatus revolving around repair jobs and illness and general laziness taking in the other 50%, which really set me back.

    but this is so right here. i do this all the time, comparing my situation to others to the point where i do something harmful or i just drive myself crazy with my thoughts. its weird how i know so few people personally, but compare myself to the planet consistently, and yes, its very intimidating. usually i just don't know what i should do next, so i try a few things here and there but i don't even know if i'm doing them right. i could take classes, on top of my gym membership (especially in swimming), but they're either geared toward little kids or they cost extra, which i just can't afford (the perils of living in an area with only one good rec center in a 30 mile radius--and they know they're good. grr...)

    I'm intimidated by everybody, but at the same time, i know i could do better. i just need to get my mentality and my body alligned, to get thinking about what's best for me myself and go from there. i do okay a while and then something happens and i slide, which totally sucks after all that hard work.

    But i'm glad i read this this morning--it was very needed. Glad you're getting your head on straight again! - 7/17/2010   1:58:05 PM
  • LORIENWILSON
    163
    I totally compare myself to other people and like you I get so frustrated when I can't be the best right away that I quit. It's sad and has been holding me back for too long. And the suprising thing is how many people compare themselves to me!! I don't think I'm good enough because I'm compairing myself to someone and then on my sparkpage I'm getting comments of people saying that they have been with spark the same amount of time as me but they haven't gone as far. You can hear the anger towards themselves leap off the page! I don't want to be the person that people compare themselves too. I want to be the one that people like to get encouragement from.
    - 7/16/2010   2:50:15 PM
  • ROOTKL
    162
    Absolutely! I find myself looking around at every gym class that I walk into to size up the competition. Part of me finds this healthy in a way and motivating, but the other part of me sees it as very damaging as there is always a shortcoming on my end by comparing myself to everyone else. - 7/15/2010   1:54:32 PM
  • 161
    YES I DO and I hate it! SP is teaching me more self acceptance in the department but I have a ways to go. I just recently started running and am at the end of week 3 (I've run a total of 9 times now). At first I was so intimidated to run passed people on the sidewalk waiting for the bus, thinking they were judging me. The most they are thinking at that time in the morning is, A) "its too early to be going to work", B) "Where's that damn bus", or C)"Look at her! She's running and isn't a runner. I should be doing that." I am usually in the C category.

    There is a girl in my office‚ÄĒsingle, young (9 years younger than me), no kids who is dropping weight like there is no tomorrow. Me, I am struggling to lose anything and putting in so much time and effort. I beat myself up all the time about it until I step back and realize I am comparing apples to oranges here. I don't need to compete against anyone but myself. I want to me a Richard! - 7/15/2010   12:55:29 PM
  • 160

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. - 7/15/2010   12:30:15 PM
  • 159
    Great blog ! If we are happy with ourself we can accomplish alot. I am verrrrrrrrry sloooooooooow losing weight but i am doing it and getting healthier on the way! Thank you so much for sharing! - 7/15/2010   9:31:58 AM
  • 158
    I'm content running my race, the one thing I know is it is about finishing a race not winning I will never win a race outright but by toeing the start line and seeing my way to the finish I win everytime. - 7/15/2010   5:33:03 AM
  • 157
    Thx for sharing this. I have done this many times. I have to remember that we are all at different stages and I should only be competing against myself to achieve my goals not someone else's. - 7/14/2010   4:09:18 PM
  • 156
    I don't know if I compare myself to others, I think I let others motivate me to be what I could be someday. I am just totally happy with myself for even attempting to run. My first 5k I was over 200 pounds. I actually looked and smiled at all the skinny girls passing me by hoping that someday that would be me :) - 7/14/2010   3:56:08 PM
  • HRDESROC
    155
    Thanks for post.. it is exactly what I needed to hear. I like to run but constantly feel I'm not fast enough or good enough. This post gave me encouragement I needed. - 7/14/2010   11:21:50 AM
  • GERISOMMER
    154
    Good for you. I used to feel intimidated too, but since I changed my thinking this year when I began this journey I think to where I came from to where I am now. I'm 1/3 of the way to goal in pounds but immeasurable in the way I eat, exercise even when I don't feel like it, turn down unacceptable foods. I feel totally committed to being healthy for the remainder of my life. I don't just want to live I want quality of life. - 7/13/2010   11:56:52 PM
  • MICHELLE4031
    153
    Thank you for the reminder and for sharing! It helps me to keep focused when I feel like giving up! - 7/13/2010   11:14:16 PM
  • 152
    I have always admired people who were able to do things "un-self consciously", not worrying about looking foolish or making a fool of themselves. I strive to be more that way every day, as the fear of looking foolish keeps too many of us on the sidelines watching life pass us by! - 7/13/2010   6:27:05 PM
  • 151
    I just started running in April of this year. I very slowly ran 1 mile, and I had to take a walking break. But by May 30th, I ran my first 5K in 41.17 - the fitness maps think I'm walking at that pace, but nope. I'm running! I finished the entire race while running - slowly.

    On July 11th I ran my 2nd 5K race, and improved my time - 37:53. I was aiming for anything better than 39 minutes, since that is what I usually did at home.

    This morning I beat my time, running around my neighborhood - I ran a 5K in under 36 minutes, by running fast intervals and then recovering.

    I might be one of the slowest runners I know... but I'm faster than myself just a week ago! And I'm going to keep competing with myself. Maybe I'll even win myself a race someday! :-D - 7/13/2010   5:21:20 PM
  • OHJULES2
    150
    This was the perfect article for me to read today. I have spent so much time holding myself back because I compare myself to others and think I fall short. I am trying to overcome that habit and focus on doing my best without worrying about what anyone else is doing. Thanks for the inspiration! - 7/13/2010   2:02:21 PM
  • 149
    I have just begun to like running because I for once, have stopped racing against others, but myself. I'm allowing myself to walk, slow down, speed up, anything, but at my own pace! Great blog! - 7/13/2010   1:37:46 PM
  • 148
    i always compare and no matter what i am always lacking.. nice to know i am not the only one that has these self doubts..I need to change my way of thinking and no better time that now.. have first 8K Run this weekend.. was supposed to be a 5K fast fat jiggle.. but we have moved it to a 8K run.. all i can do is hope to finish and be happy with that.. it will be some thing i have never done before.

    thanks for the Blog.. - 7/13/2010   11:27:29 AM
  • 147
    It's been a life long journey for me to not compare myself to others and it took running for me to learn to compete against myself and not others and apply it to other areas in my life. I now draw inspiration from others rather than compare now... it's a nice feeling. Thanks for sharing your story; it always nice to know you're not alone... My favorite motto is "the best inspiration is not to outdo others, but to outdo ourselves" - it reminds me daily to live by it. - 7/13/2010   11:03:43 AM
  • 146
    I constantly compare myself to others. Thank you for reminding us that it's best to just compete with yourself. Be amazed at how far you've come and challenge your future self to leave you in the dust as they fly by....become a harder, stronger, and more fit version of yourself - not an imitation of someone else. I'll have to keep telling myself this - again, and again, and again. - 7/13/2010   10:53:46 AM
  • 145
    I'm horrible about comparing myself to others, thanks for the insperation not to! - 7/12/2010   11:32:13 PM
  • 144
    I am the world's worst at judging myself and letting my personal insecurities get in the way of my progress. I am a newbie runner and am training to run my first 5k (I've walked before but never run). I'm hoping your words will help me to overcome my fears that others are judging me when I see the faster runners pass me by... after all, I am doing this for myself and although I would care if I came in dead last... I'd rather be last than dead! ;) - 7/12/2010   11:17:32 PM
  • 143
    Always, always, always....can't figure out how not to! - 7/12/2010   9:56:40 PM
  • PARKERCM
    142
    Nancy,
    Thanks for your message. I also tend to quit when I feel I can't do my best or my best isn't as good as some others. Even worse, I may not even try something because I may not be able to do it well. Just think about how much I am missing!

    What a valuable lesson for me to realize. It isn't always about being best. Often it is about the journey and improvement. - 7/12/2010   5:02:51 PM
  • 141
    I do judge myself against others, and I do it to push myself further. I'm one of those type A people and have a need to be the best at everything, even though I'm not, lol! I am very seldom intimidated by anyone; I've always been a very confident person. I always look forward to your articles! - 7/12/2010   4:22:36 PM
  • 140
    unfortunately I do. If someone can swim faster at the pool, I judge myself for being slower. If someone of my age is slimmer, what is wrong with me?? I don't lose sleep over it. One good thing about it is I do try harder. I am also a perfectionist, but I'll take heed from your bog, Nancy, and thank you. - 7/12/2010   4:08:45 PM
  • 139
    Oh,yeah~I unfortunately do this too:( - 7/12/2010   3:58:55 PM
  • 138
    Thank you, Nancy! I tend to act the same way, and too often to my detriment. This is an area I'm definitely working on changing in my life. Your blog reminded me why it is so important for me to have confidence in myself and to be proud of who I am and all I can accomplish. - 7/12/2010   3:51:41 PM
  • 2KRAYZEE
    137
    Thank you, I really got a lot out of what you wrote. I often quit when I feel like I donít measure up. I need to stop focusing on everyone else and more on myself. Trying a new way of looking at old situation has really given me new motivation. Thank YOU! - 7/12/2010   3:40:51 PM
  • 136
    Size-wise, and body type-wise, I definitely judge myself against others. I wish I could let that go. Fortunately, both with Zumba and especially with running, I do not judge myself this way. Like Richard, I view running as me trying to challenge MYSELF. I am going to run a 5K, and I really truly don't care if I am dead last for runners, or if some speed walkers beat me. I took up running to break out of a rut, and step outside of my comfort zone. Being I've reached Week 7 of the Couch to 5K, I'd say I'm winning already! - 7/12/2010   3:04:15 PM
  • 135
    Truth be told, there will always be someone in this world that you can run faster than, and also run slower then someone else... We are no greater, (but most importantly) no less then the next. Some of the best advice my Dad gave me... and I work at reminding myself of this everyday! - 7/12/2010   2:50:27 PM
  • 134
    I am the world's worst about comparing myself to others. My weight loss journey is the #1 proof of this behavior. I have a couple of friends who joined Weight Watchers and lost 25+ & 60+ pounds. I tried and was losing at a snail's pace or gaining a pound or two. I quit and decided to refocus the time and money I was spending to a local gym. I think I am down 16 pounds in almost 1 year, which frustrates me to no end. I just have to keep working hard at being consistant and STOP comparing myself to others - it's my own journey - not theirs!! - 7/12/2010   12:57:59 PM
  • 133
    thanks for sharing this! i definitely feel that way specifically around running, and this was a great posting! :) - 7/12/2010   12:12:16 PM
  • 132
    I definitely judge myself against others. I try not to, but I still do. I would love to try a marathon some day but know I'd be more like a 6 hour marathoner then a 4 hour and if read articles about how runners don't think 6 hour marathoners belong, and that really intimidates me. wish I could be more like Richard! - 7/12/2010   10:30:25 AM
  • 131
    Sometimes I compare myself against others, but after completing this weight loss journey, I know how foolish that really is. Nobody out there has my exercise history, so why would I expect to run or bike the same as them? Plus, I know that not everyone has the same strengths, so while my sister might be a better runner than me, I know I'm a better cyclist. There are SO MANY things that make us different, I just can't compare any more.

    Besides, I'm so jazzed that I can run at all, or fit into a size 10, that I couldn't care less what other folks can do better than me -- I'm the best I've ever been!! - 7/12/2010   10:14:12 AM
  • SUGARSMOM2
    130
    thank you for giving me another view . more to life then just being . - 7/12/2010   9:45:24 AM
  • 129
    Thanks for this! I am always harsh on myself, but I need to stay focused on my goals and successes, not my failures! - 7/12/2010   9:19:03 AM
  • 128
    Thanks for the reminder...i'm in a quest to be MY best and sometimes that gets forgotten. - 7/12/2010   9:14:52 AM
  • 127
    Am not a runner but did let someone drive me away from a support group which I need by his comment about my dream of keeping my DH who has alzheimers at home with me instead of putting him in a nursing home. I regret leaving but knew was going to cry and did not want to cry in front of the group so I left never to return now having second thoughts and am thinking of returning and tell him off. Give me courage God. One day at a time - 7/12/2010   9:12:47 AM
  • 126
    Not that I run.. but i am intimidated by everyone. and i would not ever do anything that could be considered a competition, however I do like to push myself to walk a little faster or a little further each time.. or just don't give up! - 7/12/2010   9:01:00 AM
  • 125
    Very encouraging. Thank you! - 7/12/2010   8:46:29 AM
  • 124
    Me as well! However!!!!! I must tell you that I do not run track for more than a half mile distance competitively. I KNOW that there is no way I can be as fast as some of the younger/more skilled runners but it is discouraging to be lapped.
    I think your coach should have been more cognicent of the mental aspect of running than to have you running 3 miles on a track right from the beginning.

    Glad to see that you didn't quit the sport - but instead quit the trainer! - 7/12/2010   8:46:15 AM
  • 123
    Thank you for sharing. I can totally relate to this blog. - 7/12/2010   8:40:17 AM
  • 122
    Thanks for your blog! We could all learn from Richard... - 7/12/2010   1:19:14 AM
  • 121
    I often do. I KNOW it is counterproductive, but I do find myself doing it anyway. :-( - 7/12/2010   1:18:31 AM
  • 120
    I find that I compare myself with others all the time. It doesn't matter what I am doing. - 7/11/2010   11:57:26 PM
  • 119
    I definitely have a tendency to do this that I have to fight. I joined a 6 week running club at my gym thinking it was for beginners, but most of the people who showed up have definitely been running longer than me. I'm slow--very slow--and I walk more than I run still, so I trailed the rest of the group by quite a bit on all our runs. My natural reaction was to slink away and not go back, but I DID keep going back and got better--still the last one to get back, but not by nearly as much as the first week. The rest of the group was encouraging and welcoming from day one; the 'problem' was all in my mind. If I hadn't kept going back, I would have missed out on what ended up being an overall positive experience. - 7/11/2010   10:04:44 PM

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