I need to preface this by saying that nothing can make you feel bad unless you let it, and I know that, but this was my honest reaction to what I saw on Instagram recently.
I'm very late to the Instagram game - while I've had an account for a year now, I only recently realized that you could scroll through posts that were recommended for you, based on what you post and like. I was doing just that last weekend, and I kept seeing runners. Runners who posted pictures of themselves with a set of stats for their run - stats that were crazy fast. Runners who posted selfies showing impossibly long strides. Runners who were all very lean and muscular, with no body fat and no jiggle - pretty much what an elite runner looks like, only these were just regular, non-famous runners.
I'm a runner. Just a runner, nothing special. I ran my first mile when I was 46 years old. I'm coming up on 54 in a few months and am still running, which is a small miracle when I look back on all the things I've quit over the years. I'm not a runner who wins my age group in races; I'm not a runner who has new personal records all the time...pretty much all of my fastest times (which weren't all THAT fast) were in 2010. I run intervals more often than not; doing this has worked out well for me with not getting injured and also for making it through a long run.
Logically, I know there are more runners who are like me versus what I see
on Instagram. I am closer to the norm - not super fast, not super
thin, not anything more than average - but still, sometimes it's hard to
not compare myself to others. I'm usually pretty good about not playing the comparison game, but Instagram sucked me in pretty good with that, and I'm irritated at myself for letting it happen.
There's a reason why I rarely post my race stats on my recaps anymore:
mostly, because I don't care about them, but also, I don't want anyone to compare where
they are in their running journey to where I am in mine. I mean, if you
want to feel better about yourself by comparing your pace to mine, then
fine, go ahead with that...but in the end, it doesn't matter if I
finish a race or run a particular distance faster or slower than you.
And while I still dutifully log each and every run in my Runner's World Training Journal, I don't pay attention to my pace or time - mostly I'm noting the distance and the weather conditions. Which is why I had to laugh last week when I was writing down my stats for the Texas 10 Series 5 miler race...you see, it wasn't until I wrote down the finish time and pace that I realized I didn't note those numbers at all during the race, nor did I register our time when we crossed the finish line! I was running with my friends, I was having a good time, and nothing else mattered. Now obviously I'm not a competitive person to begin with, but comparing this - not being concerned with my running stats - with how I felt after my scroll through those Instagram posts was pretty remarkable.
Hopefully I can remember this the next time I decide to take a little scroll through Instagram.