Being the fastest isn’t important. Being your best is.
How do you measure your progress or success on your fitness journey? Do you record every run or weights session? Do you keep a food and training diary and compare your sessions? What is your definition of doing well and what are you measuring it against?
It occurred to me on the recent RDC Youngers Women’s Project that I was mentoring on that we are taught to think of physical success in a certain way. At school, we’re taught that fastest is the best. We place emphasis on winning. First place matters. Sure, they give you the ‘it’s the taking part that counts’ spiel, but no one’s really buying that. If you’re of a competitive mind, you’re thinking about the win. If you don’t get it, you’ve failed. In team sports, if you play badly, you’ve messed it up for the whole team, no pressure or anything. Alternatively, perhaps you think you can cruise through and let your teammates do the work.
So, how do you adapt all this as you mature and focus on your own fitness goals? How can you get out of the mentality that if you’re not going the fastest, that’s OK?
I suppose in the sense, the answer is, in part, to be unapologetically self centred in your approach. As I emphasise to the young women I mentor, with running, I don’t care if you beat me to a traffic light. If you feel crappy at the end of it and have learned nothing from the run, what did you achieve exactly?
With any physical activity, your only competition is yourself. I think in this social media age, where we’re all posting pics of our workouts on Instagram and updating our Twitter followers on our movements, it’s easy to feel inferior or as though you’re not doing enough. I once commented online about how slow my run was and someone snapped at me about how that was their average speed. With respect, I don’t care about your speed, I care about my own performance. I’m massively supportive of any woman getting out there and doing her thing, but when it comes to what I’m doing, I’m pushing myself and trying to improve. None of that should make anyone else feel inferior in their efforts.
We all have different goals. It’s no use me comparing what I’m doing to someone else. I am not a fast runner and I’m actually fine with that. I’m just happy to have the ability to run. I like to do my runs and enjoy them. I ain’t never making it to the Olympics, so there’s a limit to which I’m willing to train. When I’m doing weights, I can’t compare myself to a woman who’s been doing it for longer than me. I’m doing well with my weights at the moment and am progressing nicely, for me. Measuring my success against someone else’s is just nonsensical to me and can kill my vibe.
Setting your own goals and being realistic about your progression to get there is important. Being motivated and inspired by others is great. Writing here and engaging with all of you really motivates me, as do the people I follow on Instagram etc, but the bottom line is we’re all on our own journeys and need to make sure we can feel confident and secure in what we’re doing, without comparing it to someone else.
So what do you think? Do you play the comparison game or are you able to focus on your own goals without distractions?
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