Thursday, 1 March 2018

The Power of Comparison

Comparison: a consideration or estimate of the similarities or dissimilarities between two things or people.

Training is time consuming. Not only is my training taking up my time but it's consuming my brain power. I find myself thinking a lot about what I'm doing, how well I'm doing it, what sessions I have to juggle or move this particular week to fit in with other things. It's exhausting, and that's without actually completing the sets!
But in all seriousness it's comparison that's really occupying my mind. I am training for a full distance triathlon. That is my end goal. 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of cycling and 26.s miles of running. There's a few intermediate goals along the way but they are all going to help me reach my end goal. The only other person I know well who's training for a similar thing is my husband Dean. I know several people training for marathons, Swimathon, personal bests, long distance bike rides. I even have a friend whose marathon goal is exactly the same as mine; same event, same time. But no one else is doing exactly the same thing overall. 
So why is it that I keep on finding myself comparing my efforts to theirs? Comparison is a natural thing for us to do I think. It's a way of validating our efforts, of answering the question "am I doing this right"? But with it often comes frustration, disappointment, feelings of inadequacy. The friend who is doing the same marathon as me recently obliterated her previous 10k PB. My speeds have been coming down but nowhere near to what she's achieving. We are doing different things and we have different goals; triathlon vs multiple running events.
Is comparing yourself to others always wasted energy? The positive aspect of comparing myself to someone else, as long as it's someone with similar goals, is that I can look at what is different and decide if there's anything I can bring into my training that would help. For example I'm training over three different disciplines, not just running, but my friend is doing more gym work than I am. So perhaps I could add in some focused strength work once a week which would make me more resilient, less prone to injury, stronger and faster. If I feel that my schedule really doesn't allow for that then I need to accept that I won't get those benefits.
The best kind of comparison is between my achievements now and my achievements a week/month/year ago. I keep a training diary with not only distances and times but energy levels, moods and of course PBs. I'm seeing my PBs coming down, my body better able to cope with the training volumes now than it was a month ago, my training more structured than it was last year and it also helps me to identify times when I might be overtraining.

So I'm making an effort not to compare myself to others, but if I do, to only take the positives from it, and to take time to look back on my journey from time to time to see just how far I have come.

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