Confessions of a Monogram Runner – Part Four

I have a terrible habit of comparing myself to others and an irrational fear of being judged.

Let that sink in for a second because even I recognize the irony in saying those two statements together.

While I’d like to think they come from an innocent place, these feelings are often so debilitating that I end up feeling down and out for days. In addition to a mess of other variables, I feel like part of my downfall in my last marathon was the brutal comparisons and judgement I passed on the runners around me in addition to myself.  I trained for my first marathon by running intervals. Enter my irrational fear of being judged by the other runners around me and finding myself running straight through 15 miles, despite my training and despite the fact that I knew I would bonk at some point. I don’t want this to happen again.

After thinking on it for weeks, I think this is my entire reason for being nervous about the Richmond Marathon. For months I’ve been comparing myself to friends who are faster and stronger distance runners than I, thinking there’s no way I can ever be as good as they are. But that’s silly. I trained all summer for a 50K. I completed 4, 20 mile and up runs with my average distance sitting at 15. Physically, as long as I take these next couple weeks seriously, I’m ready for the marathon regardless of how long it takes me to finish. Mentally though, I’m not in a good place.

My friend Hayley is also running the race and will be starting a couple of corrals ahead of me. This will be her third marathon and it’s no secret she’s faster and stronger at this distance than I am. Even though I’m extremely excited to have her racing with me, I somehow feel a lessened self-worth in the way of my own skills, just knowing that she may realistically finish an hour before I do. But why?

It’s easy to compare oneself to others as a sort of cop-out for giving yourself credit where it’s due. Society has taught us not to verbalize our positive self-worth thoughts, that you will be considered arrogant for saying out right ‘I’m awesome, I know it, and there’s nothing you can do about it!’ This is such an incorrect stigma!

Positive thinking and positive self-worth are, most times, nothing more than being proud of who we are and what we do!  I suppose my fear of being judged comes from not being comfortable with my level of awesomeness. Why should I care what anyone else thinks of me? If I want to skip and crawl my way through a marathon, then damnit I’m going to do it!

Here’s hoping I can channel that inner awesomeness and not take things too seriously. Besides, most of us run strictly for fun, right?

12 thoughts on “Confessions of a Monogram Runner – Part Four

  1. Hi, Steph!

    I MUST comment on this because it spoke to me [and not just because it has my name!]. I suffer in the same way you do in comparing myself to others and beating myself up over it. My brother gets a hundred texts a week from me saying “is it okay that I only run at this pace” and “is it okay that I only go this far per week”…after many “DUH”s he’s finally quit responding.

    I think I told you about my friend who hadn’t trained for a full and just sporadically ran one and ran it in 3:41? I had been training for months, working my butt off, and barely made it to the finish line…just to finish nearly an hour behind her? I’m not going to lie. I let my feelings of inadequacy totally over-rule my own accomplishment. I began to think poorly of my own marathon time and question if I was really a “marathoner” or even if I was really a runner.

    So then I signed up for a 50k to challenge myself, but if we’re being honest, it was also because the little envious competitor in me wanted to redeem myself. I wanted to prove that I “still had it,”…and then I had to back out of the 50k, which was such a disappointment. And I totally hear you on everything–when I saw everyone finishing Hinson, I was so bummed that it wasn’t me finishing my first 50k, too! Instead, if I recall correctly, I spent that weekend skipping my long run and eating brownies and tailgate food…

    I’ve had a terrible period of training, have been unable to run in the morning, haven’t been remotely following my plan, and have only done a few long runs, and I’m nervous about Richmond for all of these reasons, too! I almost thought about backing out!

    Your last paragraph about positive thinking are “where it’s at.” I’ve come to the realization that in running, it’s not about how fast or how far others around you are going. It’s about how it all makes you feel. For instance, I recently went for a run with my brother, and it was hard for me, but so, so easy for him. He kept going after we’d finished. I at first began to beat up on myself, but then I thought back: Did I enjoy the run? Did I feel mentally and physically refreshed? If I had no one to compare it to, would I have been proud of it? And all signs pointed to YES, so I determined it was a good run because it was a good run for ME.

    Running, speed, distance, how many races, etc. etc. are all relative to how it makes you feel. You are one of the most impassioned runners I know. I don’t know anyone who loves or lives for the sport as much as you do. You are driven, determined, and so, so talented–do NOT let that little voice in your head tell you otherwise!



    1. I am SO glad it isn’t just me who faces the struggle these nasty voices put out. I too contemplated every possible out for Richmond. Should I run the half? Should I deffer completely? What would my friends and parents and coworkers think? What would I think? I sat at work and silently cried the other day because I was so overwhelmed trying to determine what I was going to do, that I worked myself into a panic attack!
      It’s even been effecting my eating as I’ve found myself so hungry I can’t function. Which clearly means I’m not eating like I should be.
      But, today, that all changes. I need to just be content. I need to be excited. I need to just BE.

  2. In my eyes both of you girls are ridiculously incredible. I’m sitting here terrified about my 9 mile run this weekend and y’all can bust out 20+. WOAH. I have a hard time even dreaming to be the runners you are. You got this girl!

    1. Sarah, you’re doing fantastic with your training for the half. I always look forward to catching up on your blog and FB posts to see what awesome thing you achieved over the weekend. It’s more difficult to make the decision to start running than it is to actually run. If running a marathon is your goal, then you WILL do it. If running the half and staying at that distance is your goal, then you’ll do it and you’ll be shocked at how much you enjoy it! You’re a determined chick and I know you’ll kick down whatever challenges are thrown in your way.

  3. I’m always filled with self doubt…and I can’t stop comparing myself to other runners. I know I shouldn’t but I can’t help it. I thought about joining my local running club this week but chickened out. I saw them out running and they were chatting and smiling… When I run I look like I’m having some kind of seizure. That, combined with my chronic social awkwardness, means I’m now too scared to go to the club and say hello. This has made me feel miserable about myself and all weepy. 😦 must pull myself together. And work on running, talking and smiling at the same time…

    1. You’re speaking my language, friend. I had the exact same problem when I first came to Charlotte. I was terrified to join and run with the local running club. In my eyes, it was only for the elites who wouldn’t give me the time of day and always looked to perfect when out training. Boy was I wrong! I finally took the plunge and decided to go all steam ahead. I applied for a position on the Board of Directors (which was a peer election) and WON! I wish I would have realized what amazing people were part of the club and how much I missed out on by being afraid my first two years here. Now I’m Vice President of the Board and couldn’t be happier. Take the plunge! The worst thing that can happen is that you’ll decide it isn’t for you. But at least you’ll know you tried 🙂

      1. Thanks 🙂 I’m away for a couple of weeks but I think I will go up there when I get back…deep breaths…..:)

  4. What a great post! I just shared it on FB and people are loving it! I hope it will share your writing and stories with some friends that I know will find it as insightful and motivating as I do. Even on your days where you have a rough go, by sharing it, you are still inspiring others by saying it is ok to have those days and reminding us to look at them from a different angle. thank you!

  5. I feel like I need to comment because we have the same name (so clearly, you’re awesome) and we both know Hayley.

    I ran my first half marathon with Hayley. Let me correct that – I ran the first half of my first half marathon with her and ended up chasing her for the second half of it haha. She’s a beast, and I look up to her a ton when it comes to running.

    I also contact her when I’m having my freak out moments. Because, let’s be real, all runners have freak out moments. Even though she panics about running a whole bunch herself, she always reassures me that I will be FINE, and I’m prepared, and I can do it. She’s a very good motivator, use her to your advantage! She’s helped me multiple times throughout the training for my first marathon, most recently when I suddenly got PF and started freaking out that I wasn’t going to be able to run enough in the final weeks of training. I still freak out probably daily, but I remember her words, and it helps me calm down.

    You’ve come this far, only a few weeks left. You will be kicking yourself on the day of the marathon if you back out now!

    I’ll leave you with this…which helped me this summer while I struggled hardcore through the heat and humidity of Georgia:

    “Embrace the suck. A training partner spoke these words at the end of a particularly tough long run before my first marathon and they’ve stuck with me. The reality of the marathon is you’re going to have as many lows as you do highs, both in the race itself and during training. Some days you’ll feel as if you can run forever; on others you’ll want to stop immediately. The suck is a temporary state of being. When the suck settles in, embrace it. Don’t avoid it. You’ll learn and improve – and appreciate those days when everything goes according to plan.”

    Just something I came across during one of my many freak out moments 🙂

    Hopefully the day of the Richmond marathon is one of those days for you when everything goes according to plan! And, if it’s not, you’ll still do it and still be amazing for doing it.


    1. First off, I already like you name twin!
      Secondly, thank you so much for taking the time to comment on this. This is all fantastic advice and I’m so blessed to have Hayley in my running and non-running life for all that she does.
      Embracing the suck is probably one of the MOST appropriate things I’ve heard and will now become my mantra. You’re right, things will go well and things will suck, there’s no doubting that. But winning is being able to learn from and embrace it all. The closer time comes to the race, I’ll know i’ll find my peace. Until then, that’s why God created beer and cupcakes.

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