Experienced distance runners pay attention to landmarks along the course to see how far they have run. It also helps them see how far they must go.
Inexperienced runners spend much of the race judging where they are by the other runners. They use the other runners to determine how well they are doing.
They are both seeking answers to the same question, aren’t they?
“How am I doing in this event?”
As a coach, I want them to compare themselves to themselves! Get better than you were yesterday. Go out and beat you! Almost every endurance athlete has a metric called a PR or Personal Record. Beating the PR is the gold medal of sport. Beating your PR is growth.
However, race results only show a list that only includes others. It doesn’t include the timeline that I want them to use. I want them to see themselves last week vs. themselves today. That means something. It is also useful to make a roadmap to get better.
Comparing yourself to others leaves you lacking and feeling “less than” or “inadequate,” with massive carryover to other parts of your life.
How does that apply to the rest of your life?
Many of the people I coach are in their younger years. Many of them could say things like this.
“By the time Taylor Swift was my age, she had one hundred million followers. “
“By the time Martin Luther was my age, he had already started changing the world.”
“By the time JFK was my age, he was getting elected president.”
You feel like you haven’t done anything worthy of a history book or perhaps even worth mentioning at a former dinner party. You are another “average guy” or “average girl” in the crowd.
It is tempting for me to say something like, “stop it,” and assume you will hear that message from enough sources for change to be an active process in the background of your life. Yet, I can’t tell you how many times I have asked an athlete how they did, only to hear answers like “Fourth place” instead of “three minutes faster than last time.”
Let me offer each of you a blessing.
“May each of you get better in your discipline, whatever that may be. May you find value in beating the previous you.”