Dare (not) to Compare

Within our community, our peers, our friends, how much time is spent comparing ourselves to one another?

I always say that its a good thing when life gets in the way of blogging. When life is busy and full, the first things to go are blogging, facebook, email; without a doubt, question or wisp of guilt. I blog when the mood strikes me, when I have a story to tell or recipe that I absolutely must share.

Imagine then if I woke up tomorrow and decided to start blogging absolutely everything I ate, every workout and most of the rest of my life in between. Putting aside completely my motivation for doing such thing, what would you think? As a reader, what would that mean to you? Would you think I am the kind of person you'd like to invite to a dinner party and ask to bring the bake goods and wine suggestions (like Eat Live Run)? Marvel at my ability to train for a marathon, blog all my food for the day, participate in numerous blog related events and activities, and work a full time job (like Meals and Miles)? Or would you find me endearing and relatable, the kind of person you'd consider being friends with (like Healthy Tipping Point)? Or would you merely be fascinated by the number of different ways I can make oatmeal (like KERF)? You may be inspired, enamored, fascinated or curious? You also may be triggered (as in disordered eating/eating disorder), competitive, comparative, pressured or like you don't measure up. There is a infinite spectrum of emotions that may arise for you the reader, if that were the content of my blog (I am choosing not to discuss the writer responsibilities of popular blogs, simply addressing the perspective of the readers and the community as a whole).

There is, in fact, a very large community of these blogs in existence. They have their own community known as "healthy living blogs". Recently there was a Marie Claire article about the "big six" (the four I mentioned above are considered part of the "big six"-a term used by the article but not widely used in the community) and the healthy living blogging community that sparked a firestorm of angry reactions (as well it should it was a horribly written personal attack on these ladies) as well as some acknowledgement of legitimate concerns about the group conscious. The concern seems to be that this community supports unhealthy behaviours such as disordered eating and excessive exercise. I have read most of these ladies blogs and I do not think that they suffer from or encourage these things. In fact, I think they are like most health conscious ladies. That is to say, they try but they are not perfect. They do the best they can to navigate the deep deep sea of information about healthy living and synthesize that into their own lives. They are human, they can be insecure, they can falter, they can make bad choices, like everyone else. They just record every single solitary moment of it. And they have a wide readership that responds to it in the ways I described above. 

And the whole thing got me thinking about what I started this whole post out with:Within our community, our peers, our friends, how much time is spent comparing ourselves to one another? 

It seems like a lot of time and energy is spent on that. Whether it is comparing mileage, racing schedule, workouts, paces, nutrition, body weight, etc it appears to be an ingrained part of the running community. And for the most part I think this is not done in the open. We look at what our peers are doing and say to ourselves, well maybe they have it right, I should be doing that. We run 10 miles because our training partner did, we wait at the dining table to see what others order after a nice long group run to see what others order. There is all sorts of weird maneuvering and thought process that seems to go on. Instead of just being. Instead of just responding to our individual needs, wants and desires, we are responding to what we think we should be doing. I don't like it, but know how easily it is to fall into it. Recently I have had a few moments where I was doing a lot of comparing myself because of comments made by others or because of the fact that I haven't finished a race since Miwok. I caught myself and pulled myself up short, who cares what anyone else is doing, it's got nothing to do with me, it's no reflection on me and it is a freaking ridiculous unfounded thought process!

Unlike the healthy living blogging community, there is no forum where the ultrarunning community comes together and discusses things like this. We don't hold meetings or address community conscious. We don't even do it on a small scale. We just don't even talk about it. We don't talk about triggering behaviour, we don't talk about insecurities or stupidities. While running is a competitive sport and thus we want to be doing whatever we can to do our personal best, it also seems to be a very comparative sport. I honestly think it should be more of a collaborative sport. We should be allies in one another successes, we should be advocates for their health, safety and sanity. We should inspire and encourage and lift one another up. We should simplify and try and remember that running is suppose to be fun, healthy and make us happy (even when its challenging us).

This past week especially, instead of my running being complicated, comparative, competitive or anything like that, it has just been simple and beautiful and fun and made me very happy. I think it should be that way. Just like life.

“Winners compare their achievements with their goals, while losers compare their achievements with those of other people”- Nido Qubein