Lately, I've been reading a few new blogs and have been excited by the new batch of Distance Dreamers. But, as I've been reading posts, I've noticed a bit of a trend. Then, after yesterday's post, I was noticing the same thing. The great thing about running and what has made me fall in love with it is the competitiveness I have against myself. The ability to continue to push myself to improve and take on new challenges. Overcoming that mental hurdle when things get tough. Always keep that in mind - competitiveness against yourself.
Reading lots of running blogs can be a double-edged sword. On one side, there's nothing better to motivate you. Seeing the accomplishments of others is inspirational. Finding out about new events, watching others ups and downs and seeing how others train is better knowledge than any reading any training book. It is real life. Being able to make real life connections or online only has been great. You find people you connect with, you start to know people through comments/e-mail or in some cases real life. It's a wonderful support system. However, it can be easy to fall into that trap of comparing yourself too much to others. To think you aren't stacking up enough, that your accomplishments are falling short in some way. To be honest, this is partly why I deleted my DailyMile account. I wasn't enjoying keeping track of miles in that way.
I used to be a blog lurker. I read for inspiration and motivation but certainly never thought anyone would want to read about what someone as boring as me was doing on a day to day basis. I felt the blogs I read were truly interesting people with many different things going on in their lives. This blog is for 100% me but having it started to open those doors of making connections with others.
In regards to running, I remember every milestone along the way. I remember the first time running 5 miles, 8 miles, 13.1 miles, 26.2 miles. Every milestone along the way felt huge. Being able to run a 10:00 minute mile used to feel very hard. Today it feels really easy. It just happened along the way. Now, it's miles in the 8:00 minute range that feel like a challenge to me. Yet, at the same time, I can go through the blogs I read and find many who running an 8:00 minute mile would be a snail's pace for them. They would laugh (not literally) at a pace like that being difficult. For others, running that pace is completely unfathomable. It's all relative and constantly changing. The great thing about running is being able to push your own limits, not what limits anyone else tries to set for you. It's a sport in which anyone can participate. Regardless of the event, your best competitor will always be there if you choose to show up.
I certainly used to feel like I didn't belong. It was very hard to go to the first 5k. My stomach has been in knots for every 'first' along the way. I'm sure most people have had those thoughts of, what if I am last? What if I can't complete it? What will others say? What will others think? Well, the more involved one gets, the more you realize none of that matters, others will support you. Maybe there will be some bad apples along the way, but they'll be the minority, and if there are any, it's easy to ignore.
I met with the local running group yesterday for a trail run (Hi Chuck!). I am not a trail runner, but want to start. This was my first time on trails, except for a rail trail/gravel/canal towpath. It was my first time trudging up and down hills on snow covered trails. But, I went out and had a great time. It felt good, but it also felt hard. We were on the last loop I was going to do and I had to push myself. I felt like I was unearthing many unused muscles. I can go out and run 7+ miles on the road, and not be the least bit sore or tired. After yesterday's 7, I felt it that evening. But, I went out, ran what I could and am ready to tackle the next adventure. I'm never going to be the best, I won't be the worst, but I can always work on improving myself.