Running is such a simple yet potentially complex thing. It is nothing more than one foot in front of the other at a somewhat rapid pace for some period of time or distance. You don’t need much of anything to do this but if you want to spend some money on gear you will have no problem making that happen. Layer on a few races, some goals, a little social media and comparison to others and all of a sudden running can be so intimidating that you might wonder if it is worth doing at all. The key to running happy is to meet yourself where you are, to be motivated from within and to run for you. If you can do this then you will win every race no matter how you place and you will tap into the magic of this sport.
Most of us run as kids but we don’t even think about it. We get excited about the ice cream truck (at least I did) across the street or something at the other side of a field so we run. As kids we aren’t thinking about the heel drop in our shoes, the ratio of electrolytes in our water, our split times or if we are heel striking. We are happy, we are excited and the running comes naturally. I challenge you to re-channel this energy and excitement into your running.
These days we face an overload of running data and it is only natural that we start to compare ourselves to it. Maybe a friend just ran a 5-minute mile and posted a picture of his or her watch on Strava, perhaps you just ran a route only to find someone did it 10 minutes faster than you did. Maybe you are training for your first 5K only to find your coworker is training for an ultra marathon. You might ask how can you do something when so many other people are doing what you might think is so much more? Here is the truth; none of it matters. It doesn’t matter if you come in first or last, it doesn’t matter if you have run a thousand races or just one. Everyone is on a different part of his or her running journey and there is almost nothing to be gained by comparing yourself to others.
The most important thing in your running is your why, your what and your how. Why do you choose to run? What do you want to accomplish with your running? How will you do it? Run for your why, focus on your what and follow your how. Now I am not saying that competition has no place in running. Some people are driven by the desire to compete with others and that is awesome for them. However if you are training for your first 5K, you’re first mile or your first step then that is equally awesome.
When I enter a race I almost never think about how I will place. I don’t much care about being the king of a Strava segment. All I really care about is having fun, seeing what I am capable of and feeling so fortunate to be where I am. The things that matter in running are having fun, avoiding injury and being motivated from within. If those things drive you then you always win.