Comparison is the Thief of Joy (Theodore Roosevelt)

Deb Runs

Today’s Wednesday word is comparison, if you didn’t pick up on that fact from the title.

Do you compare yourself to other runners? I sure do. I try not to, but what with the internet and all, it’s really hard not to. We’re all posting our runs, our mileage, our times, our races — myself included, of course.

If you read this blog for any length of time you will no doubt pick up on the fact that I am often frustrated by my lack of speed. I work diligently on it, sometimes I seem to improve, other times I seem mired in the same quicksand I’ve been in since I started running.

In fact, one day my husband joked that I should put that 13.1 sticker on my car (see my blog post on modesty to see where it actually is), because that’s my typical pace!

One reason I do continue to post my pace on Facebook and Instagram is because I know there are other runners out there that are running that pace. Or wish they could run that fast. Make no mistake, my pace isn’t slow because of lack of trying, and I have the sweat drenched running clothes to prove it.

“My race, my pace”. Boy, you see that over and over again on the internet, right? But couldn’t I just borrow someone else’s pace for once? Say, for an upcoming race?

‘There is not comparison between that which is lost by not succeeding and that which is lost by not trying — Francis Bacon

That Bacon guy was pretty smart, no? Hard to believe he’s been dead 500 years. He puts a whole new spin on the word comparison.  And it’s one I totally believe in, too. In fact, it’s what keeps me trying.

Failure is not not meeting your goals; failure is never trying. There was also that Edison guy, and he failed like 10,000 times, right?

I think it is okay to compare yourself to other people. To other runners. But only if it keeps you in the race.

Does comparison make you try harder or give up?

21 thoughts on “Comparison is the Thief of Joy (Theodore Roosevelt)

  1. I love the quotation from Bacon. A nice jumping off point for a morning reflection at school! I hope you don’t mind if I borrow it.

    It’s virtually impossible not to compare out efforts to others’ achievements. The trick is in not letting those comparisons derail us. And it can, at times, lead us to raise the bar for ourselves.

    I also think not quitting when improvement is not in leaps and bounds is a triumph. You are a model of tenacity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tenacity, stupidity, or stubborness — or all 3? LOL! Improvement doesn’t usually come in leaps in bounds, actually. And I know that. It can be quite frustrating that it doesn’t, of course!

      And borrowing is the sincerest form of flattery. 🙂


  2. I thought about you when I was writing my post. When we first started following each other, you commented on my pace, and I could feel your frustration. But it’s been fun to follow you and watch you gradually accept where you are at. You seem really comfortable with what you are doing now, and it’s nice to see!


  3. Usually comparison makes me try harder, but sometimes that’s not always a good thing. My body can do what my body can do. Sure, it can do a little more if I push myself, but if I push myself too hard I could do some damage and then be totally out of the game. Although it’s really hard, and something I have to work on daily, I try my best not to compare myself to others. Especially other runners!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think there’s a difference between being inspired by someone and feeling defeated. If you can use comparison as a source of positive motivation, more power to you. I see too many people give up or feel like less by comparing themselves to others.


    1. Oh, I’m way to stubborn to give up on something I want to do. Just ask my husband.

      Feeling like less? Yeah, sometimes. It’s hard not to, when little old ladies and power walkers breeze past you!

      But it never stops me from picking myself up and trying again. Because that’s where the good side of comparison comes in: if they can, why can’t I?


  5. It’s natural to compare and want to be better. We just can’t let it take the joy out of things. I have to focus on that. So what if i didn’t have the time I wanted in a race. I raced.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Well, I definitely haven’t given up so I guess it keeps me in the race. My paces have slowed over the last 18 months or so. It’s frustrating, especially when you see others make great advances. I know I work just as hard (maybe harder) as everyone else, so I’m OK with it. You work hard too! Be proud of that sweat.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, I know I work just as hard (and yes, sometimes, I think, harder). Ultimately it is about how running makes me feel, not about the times . . . but a few good times would make me feel good, too. 🙂


  7. In general it makes me try harder. Occasionally I get frustrated (after a bad race where I feel like my performance has regressed) and mentally quit for a few weeks, but in general comparison with that next level of competitor prompts me to work on my weaknesses.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love that quote “my race, my pace.” It doesn’t matter what others around you are doing – focus on YOU. That being said, I also really like what you said about sharing your paces on social media as a means of motivation for others. It’s important for social media to reflect that there are runners of all types out there – not just sub-9, sub-8, etc. minute/mile runners.


  9. “I think it is okay to compare yourself to other people. To other runners. But only if it keeps you in the race.” I love that! Although I don’t compare myself to others as much now as I did when I was younger, I would say that when I first started running with my MRTT friends I probably did compare myself to them a bit. I’d gotten a little bit lazy with my running in the last couple of years and all runs had become easy runs – no tempos, no hills, no track repeats. That comparison forced me to bring back my A-game and made me a better runner.

    Thanks for linking up!


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