The Comparison Trap

The other day, one of my girls said, “I’m in a pain hole and I can’t get out!” We spend a lot of time on our team working to push ourselves when you reach that fork in a race where you can either choose to blast through the pain tunnel or stay where it’s safe and (more) comfortable. She excels at getting into the pain tunnel but post-race can be just plain miserable for her; when she crosses the line, that’s all she has and we end up carrying her back to the tent. As much as we giggled about her pain hole comment (and her question about whether she still had arms), I found myself thinking about it this week as I checked my email for the fifteenth time looking for interview invites (for residency), checked an online message board for the interviews others were getting and scrolled through Instagram looking at everyone’s seemingly amazing training and racing posts. I realized that I’m caught in a comparison trap and I can’t get out. 

There’s a saying about never knowing about the rocks that other people carry and I think social media exacerbates this in a way. Despite knowing that social media is highly curated, it’s hard to avoid the creeping sensation that everyone else is running faster, doing more and generally better than you. For me, daily posts by other runners that include phrases like #neverstop #workharder #rundaily don’t inspire me, they discourage me. I’m nowhere near lazy; I’m busy coaching a team, applying to residency, and keeping life going but if I’m not killing my workouts (or even really interested in doing them), I feel like a failure by the time I’ve done my first internet scroll in the morning. I’m not sure what the solution is but I definitely need to start the process of building a ladder or find some teammates to carry me back to the tent to regroup.

How do you react to the comparison trap? Have you tried a social media hiatus? What is it about social media that makes us automatically filter our lives?

4 thoughts on “The Comparison Trap

  1. creakyjointsrunning

    Hi again. Great post, per usual! I think you need a little reminder of what you named your blog, runner under pressure. Captain obvious here, but you are under a lot of pressure. Maybe the most pressure you will ever experience. Oh wait.. you’re going to be a surgeon. But still. A lot! Finding out where you’ll place has to be one of the most stressful experiences in any doctor’s life. It’s what you’ve been training for all these years, and all the years before that. So go easy on yourself, literally (in training) and metaphorically. It would be really weird if training was a bigger priority to you right now, probably. There are more important things. The key to running and life is not about being fit but about fitting it (all) in.

    Maybe a SM sabbatical would be a good thing. I took one for an entire year after I started my current job. It was too much of a distraction… or something. I just needed a break. And I didn’t miss it. not a bit! I went back to it when my son became more involved with preschool friends in our community, and all the mommies were in Facebook groups, etc. But I went back on different terms and it made all the difference! No more of the same ol’ social media rabbit holes. So try it! See how you feel! But keep blogging. You’re so good!

    Reply
    1. Runner Under Pressure Post author

      Thank you so much for your kind words! Often times, by the time I’ve finished a blog post, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m being too hard on myself or thinking too much about things but then feel like if I don’t admit all the random pressures I feel, everyone else is left to feel a tiny bit more alone. It has definitely been a weird year for me and there are HUGE transitions ahead, over which I have very little control but I do so love this blog (and the great people who comment and help lift me up), so I won’t be going anywhere on here. SM, well, maybe we need to take a break 😉

      Reply
  2. Ellie

    I try to keep my social media focused on different things than workouts. I like the other fun aspects of social media so even though I am mainly a runner myself on there, the people I follow are very diverse. I also try to keep things in perspective. If everything else sucked, at least I got out there right? My workouts right now are not at all stand-out, but with all the other things going on in my life, that’s ok. Same goes for you. Everything you do is so impressive! I hope this makes you smile 🙂

    Reply
    1. Runner Under Pressure Post author

      Thanks for commenting! I definitely need to diversify my SM followings to dilute out some of the running and have been trying to do so in the past few weeks. What are some of your favorite accounts to follow? And you’re right: we’re out there and we’re investing in our own health, the rest is just icing!

      Reply

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