On Competing Against Yourself: A Runner’s Confession

If you’d rather watch this content on YouTube:

The subtitle of this article is: Don’t worry about the fast girls.

There’s a story behind that and a broader application to non-runners, both of which I’ll share below.

As a runner out there for my fitness, I must constantly remind myself that my main competition is not the other runners on the trail. It’s me.

I’m competing against:

… the time from my last run.
… my temptation to skip that workout for various reasons- some legit, some not.
… getting complacent because I’ve already worked out x times this week.

Don’t worry about the fast girls

I’ve been running for fitness off and on since high school. During the “off” times, I hesitate to describe myself as a runner, because, imposter syndrome. But I’ll claim it — I’m a runner.

In my mid-20s I got into road races because I realized that training for a race was the surest way to keep me strapping on those running shoes consistently. In those days, I didn’t need to do it to lose weight because I was already reasonably fit and had that excellent young adult metabolism that I didn’t yet know was a short-term gift.

Fast forward a few years, a few “off” times and a few dozen pounds, and I was back at it. This time I ate regular servings of humble pie as I realized that pace and endurance that came so much easier before were now a challenge to chase down.

But what about the fast girls you mentioned?

At the time of this writing, I once again find myself building my cardio base back up after a few years of focusing on strength training and letting my running habit lapse. I don’t regret my decision, but now I am facing the implications as I train to complete a 10k trail run this fall.

Humble pie is back on the menu as I hit the running path and clock times that are waaay slower than during my last bout of consistency. But I’ve played this game enough to realize that “use it or lose it” is a thing. I have to earn back that endurance.

Enter: the fast girls

The other day, as I felt proud of myself for putting in an extra half mile over my previous run, a young lady with her dog cruised by me at an incredible rate.

She looked familiar. Yes, I recognized her from when she used to blow past me a few years ago when I was in the same situation I am now. (When you run the same route at the same time of day, you often see the same faces and get familiar with them, which is fun.)

As an aside, she’s likely been running that same trail during these years I was absent, which would explain her impressive pace.

My first reaction was bummed out that she left me in her dust.

As an aside: One of the things I do when that happens is to try to keep up a pace that at least lets me keep the fast girl in sight, instead of pulling so far ahead on the winding path that she vanishes.

In this case, I was not able to keep her in sight. Again, I had to remind myself that I am in rebuilding mode. She, apparently, isn’t.

Don’t worry about the fast girls.

All I need to do is keep showing up. The endurance will build. The improved pace will come after that.

A broader application

The “fast girls,” in this case, are the object against whom I compare myself. But the “fast girls” can be a general type applied to most situations.

Starting a business?
The “fast girls” might be those entrepreneurs already making good money that seem to be living the dream.

Working on eliminating a bad habit?
They might show up as the Instagram gurus showing you the fabulous life they’ve built after “effortlessly” slaying what you’re struggling to do.

Struggling day to day for other reasons?
They might be those folks who curate a perfect social media feed, leading everyone to believe their lives are perfect.

For whatever scenario you find yourself in, don’t worry about the “fast girls.”

Maybe they’ve chosen to overshare their successes and edit out the parts where they were broke, desperate, enslaved to a bad habit, or those pictures without the edits and filter where you see the messy background and they have no makeup.

As I feast on humble pie while girls who have been doing the work consistently breeze past me, I strengthen my resolve to keep getting out there. I hope you will, too, regardless of what you might be training for.

Because after all, I am only competing against myself.

Drop a comment below to share what you’re working towards. I’d love to hear. Thank you for reading!

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6 responses to “On Competing Against Yourself: A Runner’s Confession”

  1. Thanks for sharing this post. Very inspiring words…..much needed during a challenging time for me at the moment .

    1. Summer Sorensen Avatar
      Summer Sorensen

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Putter. 🙂 (Yes, I know who this is!) I have great confidence that you have the resilience to overcome your current challenges!

  2. On the spot. In life, whatever we do and pursue, measuring our

  3. I read this blog post and listened to the embedded audio version several times this past week. I enjoyed it ALL, including your YouTube video introduction. It is SO refreshing to read an open, honest blog post like this one–written by someone who is willing to be vulnerable–while many Facebook users present only their “successes.” Thanks for sharing this with us!

    1. Summer Sorensen Avatar
      Summer Sorensen

      Thank you so much for reading, watching and commenting. I appreciate it! ❤️

  4. […] took up running when I was in my 20s. Though I still had that youthful metabolism, I’d seen that I was not […]

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