If I could go back in time: Part 2 of a 3-part series on running injuries
I write this post from the perspective that SO MANY runners are injured right now! It seems like 1/2 of the runners behind the blogs I follow are dealing with injuries. NOT FUN.
This 3-part series is about what I would do differently if I could go back in time. Maybe you’ll learn something or be able to prevent an injury in the future.
PART 2: If I could go back in time, I would go back and tell myself, "Stop comparing yourself to [insert name]. You aren't them. Your story and your journey is unlike anyone else's."
Let's start by introducing you to my training group. Beth , Audrey, Tiffany, and Jon. These are the people I run with on a daily basis. When I first moved home to Jackson, the group comprised of Beth, Audrey and Jon. They were fast. There was nothing to it. Jon (the super tall guy below) was training for a sub 3-hour marathon, Audrey (blonde hair next to Jon) and Beth (far right) both just ran sub 1:25 in their half-marathons, and at the time I hadn't even raced a half-marathon before. Wow.
I learned really quickly I was sloooow compared to these fast folks. It was humbling beyond measure. It felt like every.single.day I was panting for air just on our easy runs. However, I also PR'd in every distance from the 5k to the half marathon because of these people. They are beyond encouraging.
Despite how encouraging they are and how much I absolutely love training with them, I oftentimes find myself comparing my times and my fitness to theirs. I run those extra few miles instead of the amount I planned for that day. Who wants to be the girl who runs the least, anyway?
You can probably tell where this is going.
Last December (2013), I really increased my training intensity as I planned to simultaneously decrease my volume so I could make sure to stay injury free. I wanted to focus on the 5k and even run in a few track meets, so it made sense that I would focus on intervals rather than a lot of long slow miles. Despite my training group being really supportive of this and even offering to run some of the workouts with me, I found myself running extra miles at the end of a workout "just to get in a few miles", when in reality, I did it because I didn't want to be the one in the group to stop early. I wanted to finish the run with everyone else.
This was not smart. You can guess what happened next.
While it wasn't a serious injury, it did put me back a bit and make me reevaluate my training and my approach. I had some pretty intense Achilles pain needing attention and rest.
While reevaluating, I realized I have truly come so far. I've shaved AN ENTIRE 20 minutes off my half-marathon time (1.51 to 1:31), taken 7 minutes off my 10K time (1:48 to 1:41), and I could go on and on. I could have never accomplished all I have without my training group I owe them so much.
However, I am still Katie. I am not Beth, Audrey, Tiffany, or Jon. I am Katie, and I have strengths they do not. I have to remember, and I will continue to remember comparison steals joy, it does not create it. Finding what works for you and thriving in that is best. Don't get caught up in comparing yourself to others. Thrive in your own skin and use your strengths and talents to build others up. Don't try to be someone else or do something else just because someone does or says it is right. Be you.