Overcoming Jealousy On the Run
Do you find yourself muttering expletives at the person running an 8 minute pace smiling, eating a FroYo at mile 24? A sudden urge to lace their lace their fuel with scotch bonnet? OK hater -- I relate and see you.
When I officially started training for my first race, the Michelob 13.1 series in Queens, I remember not knowing what the hell I was doing. My chest burned after three minutes of running and the only thing that kept me going was the idea of losing out on the race entry fee. Feel free to judge my cheap ways because I know that I'm not alone in this sentiment. One unusually warm winter morning, I went to Boys and Girls track feeling defeated and reducing my run down to a speed walk. This long limbed, Shaun T looking extra galloped in front of me. Her skin looked like rich dark chocolate and in my mind, her sweat probably tasted like a box of Girl Scout Cookies --and no I wasn't checking her out (that much). I remember her because she did two and a half loops to my one loop. She smiled at me on her fourth time around and even said good morning as I walked off the track pissed.
'Fuck her for being able to sing while running that quickly.' I actually said this out loud when I stopped the timer on my Runkeeper app. I didn't hate her but she represented what I didn't have at the time: Endurance, speed and a personal peace with running. I was the Salt Bae of hater's anonymous. In hindsight, I know that she wasn't my real problem.
The Guide to Not Being a Hating Ass Bitch
So you want to trip a few runners at your next marathon because you feel for whatever fill in the blank reason that they shouldn't run that quickly? Let's not be THAT person. First off: Too much sodium is bad for anyone and harboring that much jealousy for someone that you may feel is excelling better than you is truly unnecessary.
According to Grief.com, "the five stages, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost." Hopefully nobody passed away in your moments of saltiness but I'm going to adopt some of these stages of grieving to help you lower down that blood pressure for all of our sakes.
Denial and Anger
Have you ever found yourself side eyeing someone's post that reads something like this:
"Just knocked out 13 miles today for fun. My times are slower than usual. Ugh...I am soooooo much better than a 6:30/mi pace. I hope your day was filled with colorful ponies, illusive stars and nauseating bullshit. Namaste and green eggs! XOXO"
Typically these posts are paired up with a screenshot from Strava and the person is glistening in some off brand bronzer with a spritz bottle nearby, drinking someone's green smoothie and looks unrealistically astonishing. Hopefully that wasn't one of my posts that I just quoted and if so, I apologize for my nauseating ramble. Surely the above mentioned statement is a bit extra but you get the point. How does it make you feel after reading it? Do you find yourself making shady statements like 'this person is bragging' or even getting mildly angry about the 'artificial vibe of social media?'
Ask yourself the following:
Yeah, you might be a bit of a hater. And sometimes you might be doing hater ass things without even knowing it. Then there's moments where you might be bothered about the WHO versus the what they're doing. I'll elaborate a bit with an example because I secretly obsessed over teachers who gave examples in school:
As a self identifying plus-size back of the pack runner, I completely get it on some levels. Sometimes it's not the running time or their cute poses that bothers you. It may stem from a lack of visibility of something in a certain area that you need in your life. Perhaps she or he is of a smaller frame and you don't see others with your body type performing at this fitness ability-- and it's not from a lack of athletes who aren't able to pull it off. Maybe the commentary seems fake because it's not your reality after running those many miles (and you might have a matching time). Or you actually know this person and hear the loads of controversial statements that come out of their mouth before or after the statement is up. I'm not saying that your anger is correctly placed but you might have a bit of displaced rage. If you hate the status quo, be the change. Perhaps it's the idea and not the person where the issue lies.
So congrats: You're a level one hater instead of level 372 on Candy Crush. Either way, that person don't deserve that negative energy. If they don't serve a reasonable purpose to you or obsessing to a point where it's bringing down your morale, remove them from your circle. If you truly want them to be a part of your life or realistically know that they are not the problem, I really hope you continue reading.
Bargaining, Depression and Questioning
Alas, you found yourself here trying to justify why you feel or even made statements about the happy faced prancing gazelle in Central Park. You're 'concerned' about her 'addiction' to running so quickly. You don't think that she could be this happy and maybe she's compensating for something else. Eventually every person that looks and smell like these fast runners invoke some honest feelings about yourself. Replace the word 'hater' with insecure; perhaps their abilities makes you question yourself.
With that said, here's another example: Just in case the running buddy that I'm talking about stumble upon this post, I'm sorry in advanced for the ill feelings that I harbored for you without ever saying it. Nevertheless, let's call her Stacey for the sake of this blurb. In 2014 - 2015, I was able to maintain a good 11 - 12 minute mile and once in a blue, I'd run with Stacey in different boroughs throughout NYC. Sometimes we'd bring other people but most times it was just the two of us. The healthy part of this relationship lasted for approximately two months. Around month three, she gleefully told me about her pregnancy. She was actually 3 months pregnant and didn't know thanks to some menstrual spotting and a bunch of things that's none of y'all business. She insisted on running for most of her pregnancy and that's when I felt the green eyed monster surface on my end. Stacey easily ran a 9 - 10 minute mile and she did this pre-pregnancy up until slightly after her first trimester. Around month 5, visibly showing, she slowed down to a 10ish minute pace and I secretly despised that she was faster than me -- and it wasn't from a lack of trying to get faster on my end. About a month later, I started making up excuses to not show up and eventually the invites died.
In my heart, I think Stacey is an amazing person. She has a full time job, wonderful husband and three stellar children but I felt like I wasn't an equal running besides her on the pavement. Stacey possessed the speed that I desired at that time. And it didn't help that she appeared infectiously happy almost every run, even on days where she wasn't her best. Conversely, I felt like death more times than her perceived worst days and I openly used her to help me during tempo runs. I didn't want to hate or envy her in any capacity but I harbored those feelings about her running ability for months.
In these situations, it forces you to question your strengths, abilities and excuses. Why wasn't I able to keep up with a five month pregnant woman? Am I not fit enough? Am I not as dedicated to the sport as my friend?
When I started flaking on our meet ups, I realized that our running relationship would have to cease temporarily for our real life friendship to thrive. It wasn't her; it really was me. I did a lot of soul searching to ask myself what was my real issue with Stacey and others like her. After all, I knew that everyone is built different and there's always someone who is stronger, faster and we all start from somewhere...right?
Acceptance: Wake Up and Smell the Runner's Diarrhea
Although I still enjoy solo runs more than group or partner runs to this day because it gives me a sense of peace, I can see where I went wrong with Stacey, the Girl Scout sweating gazelle and even down to the issues that I used to have with elite runners: I was too busy focusing on them instead of being happy with my own abilities.
And no, it's truly not that basic bitch simple. I'll elaborate:
Acknowledging and identifying my insecurities made it easier for me to not feel so threatened by other runners. There's more than enough space for all of us to shine brightly. We have to stop asking or expecting others to dim their energy to satisfy our personal egos.
So What Did We Learn Kids?
Memories from Mar 2014, Michelob Ultra, 13.1 with Keshia
Listen, if you can't beat them -- join em. And when you can't join em, cheer them on. I stopped having envy over faster runners because I'm not them. For one, it's a lot of speed work, a bit more hill training that I desire to incorporate in my plan at the very moment and their diet might not be as fun as mine. Know that this is not an actual template for getting faster but hopefully you get the point.
Run because you actually enjoy it (or if it'll stop you from being a hot topic on the Lifetime Network). There's a wonderful feeling that almost always happens at some point of my run. In the winter months, the joy comes after I get out of the freezing cold and into a man scorching shower to wash away the toxicity that my underarms and crotch cook at 275 degrees. Focus on your breath, the gift of mobility and the power that you have to move at whatever speed. Times are not an end all be all. Having the opportunity to speak to two handfuls of elite athletes taught me that even with this being their career, they have to enjoy what they do before committing to such daunting speeds and distances.
I have a very bisexual Type A personality. I'm driven by testing boundaries, constant improvement and slightly obsessive about my fitness and health. On the other hand, these days I could give two bits of a shit about being that hard pressed if I don't meet a goal at the exact moment I planned for it to happen. Looking too hard at others means that you miss prime moments about yourself. A pace or an ability to do crazy distances is not a clear indicator that you're a great person or athlete. The work you put in is the work that comes out. If all you have this week is 5 miles at a 18 minute pace, that's okay. And if you have 70 miles at a 10 minute pace, you're still going to be you.
The things that we cannot see on our social media or even from the athlete running besides you are the full stories of what brought them there. Even if someone rambled off their entire life story in Samuel L. Jackson's voice, you will not know all of the makings of this human being. Every person comes across a moment where they don't want to do it anymore to being plagued by some ungodly stomach issue that makes you shit Lucky Charms for two hours. The next time that you feel envious about someone else pace or athletic ability, remember there's someone else out there who might be feeling that way about you. And I don't say this to give you a boost to your ego nor to shame you. Respect that we all have our moments of feeling like we're not doing enough. Welcome in success at every level and you will not have time to put so much energy on craving someone else's struggle.
This was real and I thank you for it. Whoosah it ain't good finding out you're running hater. I'm working through it. And this line especially " I had to learn how to speak kinder to myself on a daily basis until I believed.."
Beautiful. Those are all the words I really have for something this superb and on topic. I too compare myself to others when I run and, generally, in life. I am slow and getting slower as I get old. The fact that I get off my ass and actually move one leg in front of the other is a victory. Beautiful!
Thank you for this. I started running 2 years ago at 51. It wasn't pretty. Still isn't. And honestly, I try not to hate, but I think it's more about me not embracing myself at my slow pace than hating others, but I do have quite a bit of the green-eyed monster. I get lots of people telling me I just need to train harder, but I doubt I'll get any faster. I've given up focusing on pace and am just focusing on finishing and having fun while I run. So yeah, people can call me a jogger, but I'm out there and doing it. I hope I can say the same in ten years.
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Latoya Shauntay Snell
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