The other day I found myself comparing my 5K run times with another blogger’s 5K run times, and thinking My time’s better than that.
And so what? In the whole scheme of things, that matters precisely zilch. That person isn’t me, and I am not that person. It’s not a real comparison; it’s empty and pointless. And stupid.
Now I’m not saying that there’s no point in competition. I’m a firm believer that competition is a good thing. Comparing specs on a computer or a phone or a car, all that makes sense. I’m a Formula 1 fan, and competition there is extremely fierce – and makes it a great sport to follow.
But competing against someone else’s run times? Pft, that’s just silly. It’s easy to get wrapped up in that sort of comparison, but it’s really only a fair measure of progress when you’re competing against your own times. That person’s circumstances, training schedule, discipline and every other aspect of his life is going to be different from yours.
If we compare ourselves against someone who’s not as good as we are, there’s no competition in that; we are already better than they are. And if we’re comparing our times against someone who’s better than us, we’ll never truly be out from under his shadow.
We can only compete against ourselves. There will always be someone better or faster than us. Likewise, there will always be someone who’s not as good as we are at something. Ranking ourselves on some arbitrary scale is silly, and perhaps a little desperate too.
Oh, and this blogger I mentioned also has a goal to run 10K at least once a month. I’m not doing that yet. Factor that in, and my faster 5K times really don’t mean anything at all.
I should thank blackbeanqueen for helping me hone some of these thoughts into more cogent statements than possible with the irritation with myself when I caught myself in this pointless comparison. She thinks the running community should try to build each other up. She’s probably right.