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March 28, 2022

Go At Your Own Speed

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I want to share a lesson I was reminded of at the gym last week. I was on the treadmill pacing through a pretty solid pace and I saw a woman on a treadmill in the row in front of me working really hard and practically sprinting on the treadmill. Out of curiosity I wanted to see how fast she was going and I was able to read that she was going the same speed as I was. After watching closer, I saw what she was actually doing was picking up pace for one minute intervals and then resting for a bit at a slower pace.

My ego wanted to make meaning out of this. I started feeling good about myself saying ‘Yea, her fast pace is my baseline. I’m fitter than her’. I’m competitive, so it makes sense that I would do that, but then I thought more about it and realized there were many other things to consider before jumping to conclusions. Sure, I was going faster than her on average, but maybe that means she was pushing herself harder than me. So who’s actually having the better workout? And I had no idea how long she was going to go for compared to me, which certainly dictates the pace. And what about yesterday - What if she worked out hard yesterday and this is more of a recovery day for her?

What I realized in that moment, striding on the treadmill, is there are way too many factors to accurately compare my workout to hers. And more broadly, it made me realize that the majority of the comparisons we make are only based on the handful of facts we see.

The metaphorical and literal lesson in this case is - Go at your own speed. The only fair comparison to make is that with yourself. And when you start competing with yourself you are inspired to raise your personal capacities for the intrinsic value of it rather than the extrinsic pat on the back. I tried to take that to heart, so what I did was instead of comparing myself to her I let her example inspire me, and I picked up my pace to finish the workout with a one minute sprint.

I became more self-aware about this and I’d like the same for you - In what situations do you feel like you compare yourself to others the most?

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