When the Green Eyed Monster Appears: Dealing with Jealousy as a Runner
I truly and whole-heartedly support my fellow runners. I’m old enough to have the knowledge and power to have only those in my life that support others. However, we all are human. I was standing at a race Labor Day weekend chatting with one of the kindest runners I know. Not only is she kind, but she is focused, sincere and dedicated. Talking with my friend I found out she had just ran her best race by one second, always a cause to celebrate. Then she found out she placed first in her age group. I had come off a race where I placed decent, had an ok pace and felt awful. We are not competitors, never will be, we are too far apart in age and ability. However the overwhelmingly jealously I felt was astounding. What was wrong with me? She worked hard and deserved this. Why was I so jealous and where did it come from?
Maybe there were other things at play. I was mad at myself for not settling on running a strategy. Maybe I was projecting my own fear of not accomplishing something. Or, maybe just for a few temporary seconds, I was being a brat. Probably the most accurate examination was that I was just being human. Not an excuse, but I didn’t need to dwell. However, there are certain times that seem to make the green eyed monster more apt to appear.
Full disclosure: Something I enjoyed when I was pregnant and running was not having the pressure of needing to be running certain time or distance. It was a freedom I had not experienced. Some of us are naturally competitive and spend most of our time competing with ourselves as well as aiming to be best in the field. Yet, the field competition varies so widely. I have never once envied the parameters set for men before the age of 50. You have to be a kind of fast that intimidates me.
Yet, like I mentioned before, I stood at a race, harping on the fairness of the fact that my friend’s PR allows her a first place finish and it would not only be very easy for me to accomplish, but could potentially be considered a bad race. It’s an unhealthy mindset. None of us need to be comparing outside of age or gender. If I had the body of a 19 year old again, oh the races I could run. But I don’t and she does not need to be my competition.
The Time to Be Able to Put in the Time
We all have those one or two people in our running circle that have all the time in the world to run and do so whenever they want. It could be a retired friend, or one that works from home, or even a stay at home parent with kids are old enough to be quasi-independent. I used to sit in my office and stare at runners as they passed my building. I was on the top floor of a residential business park that had a fantastic six mile loop. I’d email my running buddy who also happened to have an office on the same floor and we’d bemoan to each other about how nice it must be to be able to run in the middle of the day in the fantastic weather without a care in the world logging as many miles as we wanted. What we didn’t do was give ourselves credit for getting our miles in before or after work. While our circumstances now allow us to be that runner, oddly we still choose the time of day and location we’ve been doing for years. Sometimes we just want to think others have it easier. This sport is not for the faint of heart and we’re all running the same miles and the same course when it comes to race day. Judging others’ seeming life circumstances isn’t going to get our miles logged any more than the color of our new kicks.
Real Talent to Harness Their Own Talent
Ever run into that person that used be a mediocre runner and started knocking their runs out of the ballpark? Like they grew a third lung? These people are the ones I really envy, the runners who finally understand their body enough to know how to harness their talent. The worst part is that they can’t share the wealth of knowledge they have gleaned. A few tips here and there but that is the infuriating and wonderful thing about running. It really is all about what works best for you after a certain point. I bet this person does something that just baffles you as runner. Something that leaves you thinking, “That would be detrimental for me if I did that.”
That’s a good sign you know yourself. Now, think about what you are currently doing that you do because you “should.” As we all do, a few years ago I was jockeying with a marathon training plan and someone suggested adding a run over 20 miles. What could it hurt? I’d never done a training run over 20 before. Turns out, the distance and the timing was a bad idea. People try to change my mind but I will never add a run over 20 in a training schedule and I am very picky on when my taper begins. Putting yourself, your body and gut feelings about your running is how you begin to harness your own talent. It still doesn’t hurt to ask the person who seems to have all of the sudden gained some knowledge that they can share.
Running and life often seem to mirror each other in their lessons. And if we just get down to the root of what’s making us green, we can move to overcome it. We could be tired, plateauing or simply having a moment. And like our races, we need to make note of what went wrong and move on smarter.