Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In



Don’t Play The Comparison Game

If you find yourself miserable after comparing yourself to other runners, here is how to stop.

Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.


*Courtesy of Rather Be Runnin’

After watching the Olympic Trials on Saturday, I thought this would be the perfect time to talk about something that I personally struggle with…


There’s nothing wrong with looking at someone and thinking, I want to be like that!

But it can become dangerous when it turns into a comparison game.

It is important to create healthy, achievable goals, and learn to shut down the comparison game before it begins to rear its ugly head.

Here are six things to consider when you want to compare yourself to others:

  • Genetics, man! To some extent, the deck is stacked. Equal effort doesn’t always mean equal results, and that can be frustrating. You might have more years on the road than your friend, but he/she might be able to run longer and faster than you. That is okay! Accept where you are and enjoy the ride.
  • Your fitness level is unique. Some runners can handle running 65 mile weeks without injury while others get hurt when pushing 40. That is just how our bodies work. Learn where your breaking point is and stay below it.
  • Don’t lose heart. Frustration can lead to hatred. Thoughts like I suck at running and Why am I even trying? may start to enter your mind. It’s easy to think this way when you feel like you don’t measure up. Through the injuries, frustrations and discouraging experiences you have when comparing yourself to other runners, you may grow to hate running. So eliminate this kind of thinking as soon as it pops up! Stay positive and don’t lose heart. There will be hard days, and there will be amazing days. Remember that running is a journey!
  • Create achievable goals for yourself that reflect where you are at now, and accept the fact that running (and runners) comes in many shapes and sizes. Some people (including myself) aren’t built to run marathons, yet some people can run a marathon a week without any struggle. Know what your body is capable of at this moment and work within those means.
  • Keep looking forward. You need to keep your focus on the road ahead and not on athletes who have been competing in the sport for years. That kind of comparison is just straight up not fair. It’s okay to have training partners and more advanced runners to learn from, but don’t expect to be exactly like them immediately.
  • Seek progress, not perfection. For those of us with Type A personalities (over here, over here!) running can easily become something that we have to do and have to be perfect at. Running the perfect number of miles, always hitting the perfect pace, doing the perfect stretches, eating the perfect foods…do you see how this can spiral out of control? The fact is, LIFE HAPPENS. Accept that things won’t always be perfect and move on.

What do you think? Do you find yourself comparing yourself to others?

Related: The Differences Between You And Your Running Buddy