‘Tis the season for social media feeds full of runners tackling epic events. Be it crux time for marathon training, getting accepted into the Boston Marathon, surviving a 100-miler or more, August and September are a sweat- and endorphin-driven flurry of running excitement. And with good reason, all that hard work is being put to the test. But—there’s always a “but”—what if your almost pain-free 5-miler starts to feel like small change compared to the marathon PR posted by a friend from work. Or, you just finished your first half marathon (congrats!) while a friend ran his first (or 10th) 100-miler?
One year, I arrived in Death Valley, California, to report on the Badwater 135 the very same day I ran a BQ in Colorado. I worked towards it for years and was beyond proud. That is, until I met my roommate for the weekend. It was none other than the kindest badass I’ve ever met, Norma Bastidas who had just completed a record-breaking (world’s longest) 3,762-mile triathlon from Cancun, Mexico, to Washington, DC, to bring attention to sex trafficking. And everyone at Badwater was about to run 135 miles, through the desert, in July. Suddenly, my 26.2 miles that would get me into the Boston Marathon didn’t seem all that impressive or significant.
But here’s the thing. They still were, at least to me.
We are responsible for our own dreams and goals, challenges, hard work and accomplishments. Everyone is living beautifully messy lives full of joy and pain, suffering and celebration. Someone else’s accomplishment doesn’t make yours less meaningful, unless you let it. So, don’t. Celebrate yourself just as much as you celebrate your friends. Whether you finished your very first week of running or have had a streak going for years, both accomplishments, and every variation in between, are laud worthy.
If you want to keep your hopes and dreams close, that’s fine too. No one else has to know. And yes, a run still counts if you don’t share it on social media! The important thing is being true to you. We run for health, but we also run for happiness. Keep it fun, keep it light and create goals that matter to you. Own them!
And, if you start to doubt yourself, ask “Why?” The answer may surprise you. Perhaps you want to go further or faster, sign up for a triathlon or climb a mountain, but you are afraid to let yourself dream such big dreams. Don’t let comparisons—she’s thinner, he has more free time, she’s naturally athletic, and he’s stronger–become your excuse to say “no.” Chances are good that the people you are comparing yourself to have had the same doubts at one time or another. Maybe even today! Not spending an evening going down the social media rabbit hole may help too, just saying.