Comparison: The Thief of Joy

comparison, thief of joy

In the above photos, I’m running my fastest 5k of 2014, a not so great 5k and finally a 10k PR.  

They say that “Comparison is the thief of joy”.

Comparison to others…

Comparison to yourself in the past…

Comparison to yourself in the present…

Comparison to yourself in the potential future…

The comparison game is tough.  The comparison game is something I am struggling with in running right now.

During the last few weeks I’ve found myself thinking and comparing to previous fitness levels. When I was previously training for 5ks in 2012, I was consistently running 19:00-19:10 5ks. Almost every 5k I did was logged in that second frame.

I didn’t run each 5k within seconds of each other on on purpose but that was where my fitness was. In fact I began to get frustrated with those races too! I remember thinking I would never break the 19 minute barrier (spoiler: I did).  Running is a funny sport that you never seem to feel satisfied!

I would run 19:30+ on cross country and hilly courses. When I ran a time in that frame, I believed the race wasn’t as successful.

The truth is I’m not at the fitness level right now and that would be a be a great time for me. In fact, the 19:40 I ran on Sunday was my most successful 5k of the summer!

As life changes, it’s important to realize that fitness changes too.  For instance in college, I was probably in the best shape of my life. Not only was I recording PRs with cardio (cross country and swimming), I was also strong. I had a lot more time to workout. I was overall strong and my fitness reflected that.

Now over three years after college, my time is more limited. While I don’t have children, I don’t have unlimited time to work out. First, I’m not on any “teams”. I don’t have a plethora of time to spend dedicated to working out. I run in the morning and generally go to work.

This has led me to some serious thinking about goals for myself. I think it’s important to make goals for where you are currently. While facing the reality of not being as “fit” stinks, making goals that are unattainable only sets you up for more disaster.

Being honest with yourself is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. I’ve stopped comparing myself with old fitness levels and past races.

In life you must grow and adapt to the place you are, not the place you were. The past helps most the future but we can’t let the past take up too much time in the present.