Running has taught me many life lessons.
It’s an activity that provides great wisdom. Both in terms of how it relates to life, and in the way it opens your mind and allows the voice of your higher self to come through loud and clear.
Last week I was at the lake running—something I do often during the summer when it’s too hot to run at home—and this lesson was brought to life for me. You see, there are usually many people walking, running, and biking at the lake in the evening. And this night was no exception.
As I was running along, I found myself passing another female runner.
I didn’t think much about it. Everyone runs at their own pace. A short while later, I was passed by a young man who was really cruising. I mean he was trucking! Now, there was a time I would have felt bad being passed. A time I would have felt less than for not being able to run as fast. Not anymore.
What did occur to me in that moment was that we all need to run our own race.
Whether we are literally running, or just living our lives. It’s far too easy, and common, to compare what we’re doing to what others are doing. And too often we end up feeling bad. Because let’s face it, there’s always going to be someone faster, richer, more beautiful, more successful, thinner… I could go on, but I think you get the idea.
As I was thinking about all of this, I thought of a conversation I’d had with my daughter a few weeks earlier. She had just run her first half marathon. She shared that at the start of the race she found herself trying to keep pace with the other runners. But she quickly realized if she kept up that pace she probably wouldn’t be able to finish the race without walking—she’d wear herself out.
And her goal was to run the entire race, and finish.
It wasn’t about hitting a certain time. It wasn’t about winning. It was about finishing without walking.
She slowed down and she did indeed finish the entire race, without walking.
I was so proud of her. She recognized that she needed to run her own race… that for her it wasn’t a competition (yes, for some runners it is, and that’s fine but that’s a different story).
At the end of the race, when my daughter heard the winning time for her age group, she felt a slight pang of defeat. The time was much faster than her own. I reminded her the other young woman was merely running her race, at her pace.
My daughter quickly agreed, and once again felt proud of her accomplishment. She had done what she set out to do. She felt good about it. And she was energized and motivated to go out and do it again.
It’s easy to fall into the comparison trap.
To measure our success by the pace others set. In many ways we’re conditioned to compare. But it usually only results in feeding our ego, or squashing it. And neither is what I believe life ought to be about. The challenge is to break that habit and commit to running your own race and living your own life.