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Run Your Own Race

Lessons in Self-Compassion Learned on Long Runs.

Training for a half-marathon was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and I learned many lessons about life and running throughout the 4 months leading up to the race. For context, I was a brand-new Doctor of Physical Therapy Student, in a new city, who had just completed her return to run program after an injury. I had just worked up to running a mile consecutively when, with a little bit of peer pressure, I found myself signed up for my first half marathon.

I drove to Decatur for the first time to get a new pair of running shoes from Big Peach and found myself lacing them up at the Old Fourth Ward Skate Park every Saturday, ready to face a new mileage each week. Starting off was a struggle. Each new distance felt daunting and pushing myself was hard. I felt slow, and I still felt the occasional twinge of my previous injury.

I felt defeated every time another runner passed me and elated when I passed a different runner. I felt frustrated when my watch revealed a pace slower than my goal. But after a few weeks, and lots of self-reflection on my runs, I found peace and then joy by just running my own race.

I realized that the person who passed me might have just started her run, maybe she’s doing a tempo run today, or maybe she has been running and building her endurance for years! And that person I passed – they might have been on mile 15 of their run or coming back from an injury. Or maybe, we were all just running our daily distance, at our own pace. Comparing my run to another person’s wasn’t going to make my run better or worse; the only thing that could change my run, was me.