Saturday, April 12, 2014

My Five Rules of Training: Rule 1: Never Compare

I am hardly a definite source of training, racing, nutrition, education, love, relationships (definitely on this one), happiness or pretty much any topic except maybe 90's kids movies and sitcoms (think Boy Meets World, Family Matters, Rookie of the Year, Angels in the Outfield, and The Pagemaster to name only a few).

However, I have developed my own rules of training that I hope you can find helpful. These are rules that I have to remind myself every so often to keep me, my ego, and mind in check and prevent them from sabotaging what really matters.
Most things are apples to oranges. I am more of an apple guy

It is hard when training to not do this; it's hard in life too! I am not sure about you, but I have a horrible tendency to look at a workout and beat myself up that my normalized power was less, or I was not going as fast as I did last week or last year. The thing is though that mental commentary and criticism is pointless and does nothing. 

The world changes too quickly to compare yourself to anything in your past because you are not the same person that you were yesterday let alone last workout. There are so many different variables to consider that comparing yourself becomes futile. You may be more tired, the conditions could be worse, your coffee could have been weaker; your work/life/relationship stress could have stressed you out. The list of effects are endless, so forget the comparisons and focus on giving your best on the day for that particular workout; if that workout happens to be worse than one in the past then give what you got. Not every workout is going to be perfect.  

(Note: This is not to say that data is pointless; it is actually quite valuable. What is more important though is not the individual workouts but the overall trends.)    

It is even harder not to do compare yourself when you are training and some jerk completely decked out in an Ironman race kit (note that they do not stitch your place or time on these kits) comes racing by you when you, exhausted after 5 hours of intervals and hill repeats, are finishing up a ride, sputters "You know, just an easy zone 1 recovery ride" in between gasps of air, and then pedals off. After such encounters I usually think "Damn, he is fast; I wish I could be that..." then I catch myself. "I do not know him, nor what he has done today, nor what he has done this week in training, so it is POINTLESS to compare myself.

Then there is social media. When people post their workouts, how much they weigh, how much (or little) they ate, it is near impossible not to look and feel worthless. You may have just come in from an awesome workout where you hit all your goals then see John Shmoe-Pro (God, I hate him; he is such an ass!) did double that!  It makes me feel insignificant.

Once again I have to remind myself that this is just stupid talk. I did not think I or my workout was bad until I saw that post meaning it was my comparison that destroyed my high not the workout being bad itself. How irrational!

Overall, I need to focus on the only person I know for sure: me in this moment. I know where I have been, where I am, and a vague, blurry picture of the future, and thus am the only person who can judge.
Comparisons will not lead me to where I want to go; in fact, with all of their negativity and doubt inducing thought patterns, they might move me further away.

I think Marcus Aurelius says it pretty well:

“How much time he gains who does not look to see what his neighbour says or does or thinks, but only at what he does himself, to make it just and holy.” 
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
As well as Daisaku Ikeda: 

“I cannot say this too strongly: Do not compare [yourself] to others. Be true to who you are, and continue to learn with all your might.” 
― Daisaku Ikeda, Discussions on Youth

#word...but that is just my two watts

1 comment:

  1. I've had to learn this lesson over and over and over and everyday it is still hard, but as long as you keep reminding yourself of it, you can keep thriving! Do you!