Be the Runner You Are

January 30, 2013

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a better runner. I believe that when it comes to running, it shouldn’t matter what anyone else is doing or how fast anyone else is going. It should be about YOU. Running because YOU enjoy it. Training in a way that makes YOU feel good about yourself. Finding joy in why YOU are doing what you do. But I’d be lying (and you probably would too) if I said I never compared myself to other runners.

As a runner and a blogger, I talk to and read about the journeys of so many awesome runners. Complete badass runners. And I’m not talking about Olympic or world-class athletes. I’m talking about the regular, everyday moms, working professionals and people who just amaze me with their paces, times and race PRs every day. Yes, I’m talking about people like Mile Posts, Pace of Me, NYC Running Mama, Neon Blonde Runner, MsFit Runner, etc. who can bust out a sub-7-minute mile at the end of a long run and have marathon times I can’t even imagine (yet). I think these women are amazing and inspiring and we can all learn something from every one of them.

But we can’t forget to learn from ourselves and to also take pride in the runners we are.

As I was knee deep in my speed work session last night – running 800-meter repeats at a 7:13 pace – it dawned on me that maybe I am better than I give myself credit for. Sure, I can’t string together enough 800s at a 7:13 pace consecutively for 13.1 or 26.2 miles just yet like some of the women I admire, but I CAN run that fast. We all have our badass runner moments, no matter whether it’s just for 800 meters or an entire marathon.

We are all different. What I think is fast is someone else’s slow, and what I think is slow is someone else’s fast. I was reminded of this just this week when I posted a workout on Daily Mile and mentioned that I warmed up with a very slow mile that happened to be someone else’s speed work pace. What I believe to be true about running is that it’s not really your pace that’s important, it’s how much you are giving – how much you are pushing yourself, how much heart you’re putting into it and how much you’re getting back in return – that really matters.

I recently met a runner who has been nearly last in every race she has run. So far back in the pack that many spectators were gone by the time she came by, and in some instances race organizers were breaking things down before she had even yet to finish. And she keeps getting out there every day. She keeps running. She doesn’t let anything discourage her. Her 16-minute mile is her personal best. She is the runner she is. I’m the runner I am. You’re the runner you are. We can’t forget to celebrate what makes each of us so great, and simply be happy with the runners we are.

We can’t spend so much of our running lives wishing we were something different or better. We can channel that energy into training smarter, pushing ourselves (safely) harder and becoming the best version of ourselves we have the potential to be, but we are still ourselves.

Don’t underestimate being happy with the runner you are. Simply getting out there and doing it is something to celebrate. Here’s to you. Here’s to all of us.

What do you love most about yourself as a runner? What is your proudest running moment? Are you happy with the runner you are?


Lisa @ RunWiki

Nice article Jesica, You’re so right, comparing yourself to others is so dangerous and destructive. I love the saying “It doesn’t get easier, you just get faster,” the significance of that statement brings to mind that, we’re all in this together, fast or slow, it’s not easy for anyone.


Thank you, Lisa. And such a great point you make! I’ve always loved that quote too. It is so true.

Cecilia @ MommiesRun

Great post Jesica! I really love it. The thing I love most about my running right now is that I’m seeing improvement. My speed is increasing and I’m feeling stronger. Honestly, I’m not happy with the runner I am, YET. I’m a newer runner and I know I have room for improvement. But, I am a happy runner. Does that make sense? Basically, I’m happy when I’m running.


Congrats on your running accomplishments, Cecilia! It sounds like you are doing great. No matter how long any of us have been running, there is always room for improvement — new or seasoned. I love that you’re happy when you’re running. That should be the ultimate goal. High five!


Such a great post. Thank you for sharing. My proudest moment was finishing the Philly Marathon last year. It wasn’t the race I thought it would be (I was over an hour slower than I thought I would be and walked most of the last six miles), but nothing could take away the sense of accomplishment I felt finishing that race. Before that, my proudest moment as a runner was the first time I ran three miles without stopping to walk.


What wonderful memories, Maureen. Thank you so much for sharing them. Sometimes the runs we fight for the most and are the hardest are the most rewarding, even when they aren’t our best runs. xo

beka @ rebecca roams

I’m with Cecilia! I love that my hard work is paying off! I’m not the fastest, but I seriously admire all the ladies you mentioned in your post. I look up to their speed, and even if it’s not in my cards to run that pace, I’m happy every time I hit a goal or learn something new.

The Runner Dad

Amazing post. Right now I’m completely happy with the runner I am. Is that true always? No. But right now, in this moment, I’m loving it!

Michele @ Nycrunningmama

Such a beautiful post – and SO true! We ALL deal with what you talked about. I look at some runners and wish I had their speed (Msfitrunner!)…and then others look at me and think the same thing. You have to embrace the journey and how far you have come…that’s what speaks volumes about the type of runner you are!
Thank you for the shout out!! =) =)

katherine @ neon blonde runner

Jesica, what a beautiful and true post! Running is something completely different for everyone. We all run for different reasons and we all get something unique from it. That’s why I freakin’ love it so much, everyone makes it their own.

At the same time, it is fun to look to others for inspiration and motivation…but to remember that everyone’s body is different and we all have a million different factors influencing where our running takes us.

Thanks so much for the shout out, you are far too generous putting my name with those other super stars. PS if you dream of certain marathon times, you WILL have them one day, no doubt!!


Thank you so much for the encouragement Katherine! xo


Amen! I try to remember that at least I’m out there…and only competing with myself. Even with my crazy Runcations, it’s about the experience not the times necessarily! 😉

Amy @ Writing While Running

Thanks for this awesome and amazing post. As I wind down my training for my upcoming marathon in 2 weeks, I am scared I won’t do nearly as well as I hope. But then I tell myself so what? I have trained hard and I had 2 half PRs right before my training started. So…I can totally do this and if I can’t, I can still say I ran another marathon because I am sure I can do that 🙂 And running multiple marathons is pretty cool in and of itself.


I’ll be cheering you on Amy! So excited to hear about your marathon! It is natural to be nervous, but just remember to be proud of what you do out there no matter what. Running 26.2 miles is amazing! And I agree, multiples are even more amazing! xo


I’m so glad you found this post inspiring, Jamie. I am equally inspired by your post and your words. I can’t wait to hear how your half marathon goes! I’ll be thinking about you and cheering for you from Atlanta!!!

Debbie @ Live from La Quinta

Great post, Jesica. It’s hard not to compare yourself to others, but it really doesn’t matter. And, as I’ve gotten older, it is hard not to compare to the young me, who could bust out sub 20 5ks.

Anybody who runs,whatever their pace, should be proud of their accomplishments. Training is hard, the reward is sweet, whether it’s a 20 minute 5k or a 30 minute one.

Ricardo Bueno

Re: “What I believe to be true about running is that it’s not really your pace that’s important, it’s how much you are giving – how much you are pushing yourself, how much heart you’re putting into it and how much you’re getting back in return – that really matters.”

I couldn’t agree more with this. As long as your pushing yourself, I mean truly pushing yourself… Then that’s improvement and that’s all that matters. Because that’s huge and something to be proud of.

I get down on myself a lot sometimes. I’m not happy with my pace, or I wish I was faster. I complain about why I’m not seeing results fast enough. Then I went out an ran a sub 2 hour half marathon this weekend (my last half marathon was 2:38). That’s a HUGE improvement. It all happened because I went out there and trained every week for as many miles as my body would let me. I pushed, and pushed and pushed…and it sucked. But it felt damn good to cross that finish this weekend and that made it all worth it.


Congrats Ricardo!!!! More than a 38-minute PR??? Wow! Amazing. I’m so excited for you and hope you will continue to look at the positive parts of your running and training. Thank you for your kind words about my post, and enjoy that half marathon PR high!


I am pretty sure your warm up mile is faster than any mile I’ve ever run. I am fortunate that I don’t struggle with comparing myself to you or other seasoned runners. I do, however, get sucked into the comparison trap with other new runners- especially as I watch them progress leaps and bounds faster than me. It’s hard not to feel down on yourself when others run so much faster and it seems so much easier for them because it makes me feel like what I’ve done wasn’t still a huge accomplishment. Like running a half marathon in 2.5 or 3 hrs isn’t nearly as hard as running it in half that time. Does that make sense? Any way, I’m babbling. I am thankful you wrote this post. It’s something that I need to remind myself of daily on so many levels, not just running. The only person I need to be better than is the person I was yesterday.


Hi Dacia! I’m glad you found the post helpful. And for what it is worth, I think YOU are amazing! I think finishing a race at any pace is an incredible accomplishment. We are all different and our bodies are different. It’s how we do the very best with the bodies that we have that makes a difference. Just being the best version of ourselves we can be is really all that matters. I believe strongly that running (at any speed) helps make us that better version — and you are doing that. xo


I believe this so strongly. I mean, unless you are Usain Bolt, there is always going to be someone faster – and even Bolt will have his moment where some whippersnapper beats him!


Love this post, and it’s often something I overlook. It’s hard not to compare yourself to the lady that’s passing you, or the 12-year-old that just blew by you in the 10K. But it’s important to remmeber, and I REALLY have to remember that on Sunday when I’m at mile 24 and still trucking along. Thanks for this! 🙂


Good luck at your race!!!! Please let me know how it goes. Run Megan Run!!!

Alexis {Diva on a Diet}

Aww. I love this. I struggle with actually calling myself a runner when I see all those other fast paces on dailymile. I’m actually running slower than I was before winter hit, and I was sort of beating myself up about it for a while. Now I am just trying to take the attitude of being happy that I ran at all because not too long ago I could only run (at a much slower pace!) for no more than a minute! And my friend who runs much slower than me has completed a marathon, and I think that is amazing! It’s all about perspective!


What an incredible accomplishment, Alexis. To be able to look back on your journey and remember when you could only run 1 minute and then to see what you have accomplished today is super powerful! You are so right that running is all about perspective — as are so many things in life. Happy running!


I read this post yesterday but didn’t comment. It’s great, and it’s definitely so true but still so hard to remember. I am proud of my times sometimes, but then I will let others’ speeds make me feel slower. I’ve got to embrace my best moments as my own. Thanks for writing this!


Love this! I am super excited about where I am right now in my running goals. I’ve cut down a full minute/mile pace over the last two years (from 10-min miles to 9) and I’m currently training for my first marathon. The thing I love the most about running is that at the end of the race, everyone gets to cross the finish line and get a medal, whether you’re first or last. Great post!


Congrats on all the progress you’ve made in your running during the last two years. That rocks!!! Good luck training for your first marathon. I hope you’ll keep me posted on how it is going. And you are so right that everyone crosses the same line and gets the same medal at the end of the race 🙂 Every finish is a victory!!!


My proudest moment (even though I’ve run longer) was the first time I hit 10 miles. It was the greatest running day I’ve ever had. Nothing has been better yet, though I’ve had many awesome running experiences. For me, running isn’t about what anyone else is doing. It’s a journey for me. I have had a lot of emotional therapy through running. Whatever the pace.

Love this post. Love the pic up there “be the runner you are.” Wish I could hang it up poster size!


I love that memory! What a great moment to keep inside you and channel when you are having a challenging run. And thanks for your kind word about my post and picture. xo


This is fantastic! Thanks Jesica. You made my day 🙂


Thanks for this. It’s oh-so true. So easy to forget that your own achievements are your own and worthy when you’re constantly reading about others who are so much faster. Nice reminder to be proud of ourselves!!!


This post is so timely for me. Thank you for writing it. You are an inspiration!


I know I have commented to some of you individually, but I just want to thank ALL of you for your extremely kind words and thoughtful comments on this post. You all are awesome. Here’s to being the runners we are 🙂


Love this! It’s so true. We have no one to compare ourselves to, no one to try and beat but ourselves! We are awesome runners and we should celebrate the fact that we can get out and run every day 🙂

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