Comparison and Qualification

It’s just a sprint tri...”

I run but I’m reeeeeeeally slow...”

I know 1000 meters is a short swim for most people but it’s long for me…

That last one is from this morning.

As a new athlete, I find myself qualifying nearly every accomplishment.  Including the term “athlete” which I squirm at typing.  Every statement ends with an ellipsis, sheepishly trailing off.  Not doing anything impressive! Nothing to see here, folks!

I believe this is the plight of the ambitious newbie with internet access.  There are so many blogs of fantastically accomplished and talented people.  I find these blogs incredibly inspiring and informative but they can certainly skew your perspective.

I was less affected by them when I first started running.  I was at square one and devoured stories of people who started where I currently was but had gotten to square three!  They were marathoners and Ironmen whose early race times looked not unlike mine!  Rad!  As I’ve trained beyond square one, I’m guilty of comparison more and more.  And the more I compare myself to people who are clearly more experienced than I, the more inclined I am to qualify my workouts and accomplishments.

Let’s take this morning as an example:  I swam 1000 meters in 26 minutes and then cycled on the stationary bike for 50 minutes.  Yesterday, I had a 45min cycling/25min running brick workout.   They were both tiring but totally manageable.  Great success, right? [Borat voice, natch.]  It takes a lot of effort for me to push the training tweets of awesome future Ironmen out of my mind and recognize that for me, right now, those workouts show tremendous growth and should be celebrated, not mumbled.

Oh, and also, “most people” can’t and don’t swim 1000 meters.  That’s just silly.  And yes, for most trained swimmers, 1000 meters is a short workout.  I am in that sweet spot between “most people” and “experienced mega athlete” and that’s a great place to be.  No ellipsis!

Do you compare and qualify or are you one of those fabulously grounded people who are “on their own path” “running their own race”?  😀

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6 thoughts on “Comparison and Qualification

  1. Sarah says:

    Constant inner-voice reminders! Hey self, remember when you used to want to die at the end of this run and now you want to go another mile instead? That’s awesome! That, and some little Pinteresty nonsense of “you may be slow but you’re lapping everyone on the couch”. How quickly we forget how incredible we are, no?

  2. John says:

    I hear you…just focus on what you’re doing and capable of right now. Don’t let others influence you or how you think you’re doing. 🙂 I have the same issue with wondering if I’m training enough…but I am for my racing goals. Sounds like you’re on the right track!

  3. Square-one athlete here, and YOU are MY inspiration. (One of, anyways.) So I hope that helps you smile and carry on like you’re awesome, because you ARE.
    In a broader context, yes I hate how especially women tend to minimize their accomplishments. Beyond athleticism, I’ve certainly been guilty of saying I earned “just” an associate’s degree. “Well, I cleaned this one room BUT THE REST OF MY HOUSE IS SUCH A WRECK.” Yes, we mumble the good stuff, and that does no one any favors! I think the story of this decade will be people learning how to BE bigger, not just dream bigger. At least, I hope so, and I see more (again, mostly women, but all) people learning to really own their accomplishments and recognize their strengths. It doesn’t mean we’re becoming insufferably arrogant jackasses (well….most of us, anyways lol); it means we’re finally learning as a society to value progress, which is dynamic, instead of perfection, which is static and usually unattainable.

    • Shauna says:

      I absolutely and totally agree, Rebecca. I was thinking on the way home that I have always diminished accomplishments in my professional life too. I would love if we could all own an celebrate our successes more!

  4. Mary Sue says:

    I am guilty of the same thing. I tend to emphasize how slow I am when talking about my running. It’s only lately that I’ve begun to realize that there is nothing wrong with being slow. Most people don’t even get off the couch. So celebrate those 1000 yard swims!

  5. CMRock says:

    Guilty. I’m running the SJR Seattle Half with the friend who originally introduced me to See Jane Run and was the catalyst for my long-distance running adventures. Currently in the midst of a hamstring strain that hasn’t completely knocked me out, but makes running an easy 4 miles feel like I’m pushing too hard, I’m worried I’ll be holding my friend back in a few months during the race. Like taking the time off now will destroy the very distant race day. And worse, like my (potentially) slower presence would be a total inconvenience to her game-day running plan.

    But I guess that’s why we’re runners, and athletes. Because one mile isn’t good enough, we want one more, and then one more via bike or swimming. We just might be destined to forever balance knowing we’re capable of truly being fierce competitors with ourselves and peers while always wanting to push the boundaries just a little harder, better, faster.

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