On Internet “Rivals” and Bad Running Karma

One weekend in the not-so-distant past, I was wasting time on Twitter (as I all-too-frequently do) and something nasty happened.

Via retweets, I saw that a blogger I’m familiar with (but whose posts aren’t my cup of Nuun Lemon Tea) had run a PR — a PR faster than mine.

I've actually never tried this flavor. Is it any good?

I’ve actually never tried this flavor. Is it any good?

I deflated. I’d followed her in the past, briefly, and she was much slower than me. “What’s she doing differently from what I’m doing?” I thought. “Why is she improving so much faster than I am? I’m never going to get into Boston!”

This isn’t healthy, y’all. I don’t even KNOW this chick. Getting down on myself from seeing her race results makes as much sense as getting down on myself over the race results of every single person in my age group to beat me in any given race. (And if I did that, I’d be so down that I’d never make it back up again.)

One of the reasons I run is because I like competing against myself…and only myself. Whenever my coach pointed out a “rival” — a girl who often finished just in front of or behind me — in high school, I choked in all future meetings. (Amy Williams and Brittany Schrock: Yeah, I still remember you! Thanks for beating me!) I’d be a horrible pro athlete, and not just because I’m slow.

The internet has given me all kinds of “rivals” I’ll never compete against in person, and I don’t want them. I don’t want to be unhappy because someone else had a good race. That’s not good for my running karma.

I don’t feel this weird rivalry vibe toward run-bloggers I personally follow and like — it’s like we’re teammates? — and I won’t get into what makes a blogger decidedly Not on My Imaginary Team.

But one reason I’m excited to take on my new role at work* is because it’ll allow me to avoid the parts of the run-blogging/run-tweeting culture I don’t like. I can stop having these negative feelings, which will enable me to run better…and then I’ll totally crush that girl’s new PR. (Kidding. Mostly.)

Anyone else find themselves in my rival-anxiety boat?

*Old role = Mostly Twitter and other web things. New role = Print-based.

About Meghan Loftus

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2 Responses to On Internet “Rivals” and Bad Running Karma

  1. Hmm… if you truly liked competing against yourself and only yourself, why would you enter races? Why not just use the Garmin and run a set route over and over for PRs? On some level you must feel competitive against others and enjoy the feeling (particularly, probably, when you beat someone, or when people cheer for you for running farther than others have/can!).

    Sure, you want to achieve a Boston qualifying time, but that’s only been set by comparing runners and deciding what’s “fast,” right? So you only feel ‘slow’ compared to other runners. Just think of it like this: it’s only because someone your age is faster than you that you actually have a goal to achieve (Boston). Compared to yourself, you’re getting faster and faster (yay!) but with no metrics by which to judge yourself, that’s boring. I think you should totally just look at this girl’s PR as hope that you can get even faster too! 🙂

    • Meghan Loftus says:

      Because PRs set outside a sanctioned/measured course don’t count. 🙂 And you run faster with people to compete against. I like competition, but I like it anonymously, with no pressure to beat a specific person. Just “catch that guy up there” kind of competition.

      I kind of hate my Boston goal now, too. If I run a 3:35:01, it would be a nice PR, but I’d be SO MAD I didn’t make the arbitrary cutoff point.

      (I’ll get it, soon. And then I can just worry about straight-up PRs again!)

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