Avoiding the training comparison trap

I’ve been to the gym. It was a short session tacked onto the end of a 4-mile run. I was doing some single leg deadlifts, balancing on one leg and lowering a weight to the floor. I was facing the mirror, trying to keep everything in line and not wobble.

A woman came over to the weight rack and picked up some bar weights that I’d been using earlier like they weighed nothing. She lifted them over her shoulder and started doing walking lunges across the gym behind me.

I’d clocked this woman already. She was lifting some seriously big weights the other side of the gym when I first walked in and I’d watched her for a moment in awe. Now she was behind me lunging her way across the gym with half my bodyweight slung across her shoulders.

If you can’t guess what happened next, I started to wobble. I couldn’t keep upright because my form went all rubbish. I was distracted and not concentrating on what I was doing.

That minute or so is a microcosm of something we all do all the time. We look at what other people are doing instead on concentrating on our own stuff. Runners do it all the time. The other day one of my runners said about another: “Wow, she’s doing 10 miles at the weekend – I’m only doing a 10k.”

When you see other people doing this it’s easier to identify what’s going wrong than when you do it yourself. But we do it all the time. The internet is a great thing but how many times have you looked at the training someone else is doing for the same race as you’re doing via Strava or Instagram or Twitter and made comparisons?

Stop it.

Yeah, sometimes it’s encouraging. Other times it’s an unhelpful distraction. It makes you wobble, and drop the weight.

I was impressed by the woman in the gym. I wondered how long she’d been training to lift those sorts of weights. I wondered when I’d be able to lift a weight that heavy. It wasn’t until I was home and showered that I thought about why I was in the gym: I was there to do a quick strength routine to supplement my running. To make me a better runner and keep injuries at bay. My goal isn’t to lift a massive weight.

Comparison is unhelpful – especially when you don’t know anything about the person you’re comparing yourself to.┬áSo whether it’s your training, your job, your love life, whatever, keep your eyes on your own goal and keep working towards it. Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing or you’ll start to wobble.