In the early 1900s, Albert Einstein published his theory of relativity. Now, I am not a scientist, but in general, here’s the idea: space and time are interwoven into a single continuum known as space-time. Events that occur at the same time for one observer could occur at different times for another. It is this last line that gives me pause – events that occur at the same time for one observer could occur at different times for another. Broken down to its core, this means that success for one person could happen at a completely different time and have a completely different meaning for someone else. It’s essentially the procursor to the idea of the comparison trap.
Why am I talking abou the theory of relativity? Well, I’m going to share some thoughts that might be unpopular. I hope by now, y’all know me and know I’m not trying to be rude here – not my style. But. I have been pondering this and it’s been bothering me so let’s talk about it.
As someone who lives certain aspects of her life very publicly, I am used to all kinds of comments about my running. Most of it is the standard stuff you see on social media – kudos and congrats and sometimes questions. But over the past year or so, I noticed that I sometimes get comments along the line of “well, gosh, I couldn’t even one run mile at that pace, so be excited about [fill in the blank disappointing run or race].” Those comments are always made in a spirit of kindness and I suspect that they are said in an effort to make me feel better. I see these comments a lot as well with my much faster friends. And I’m here to encourage you NOT to make these kinds of statements.
Yep – I am saying that you should NOT tell your friend who had a tough race, “I would kill to run that pace, I can only run [insert your pace].” I’m making this request for a couple reasons:
- That response instantly makes someone else’s bad race about you. Again, I know this is unintentional. But when someone is sharing their frustration about something and you respond with “well, I…” you are making it all about you when it should be about your friend / family member / etc.
- That type of comment is just simply not helpful. Everyone is different. I have my own running journey and do not compare myself with other runners. I firmly believe that others success doesn’t mean that there’s less opportunities for me. So when someone tells me that they couldn’t do what I did, it is awkward. Whether their statement is true or not, it is kind of irrelevant to me. Because I am not you and you are not me. So the fact that you could never run a marathon is not going to make me feel better if I ran a poor marathon. It’s all relative, y’all.
- It is so awkward. Like I mentioned above, it is awkward. If I am already feeling upset about a bad race and then someone comments and is talking bad about themselves, it puts me in the awkward position of having to try and make someone feel better about their own running when I’m not feeling great about a race.
So – what do I suggest you say to a friend / family member who has had a bad race? Keep it simple – “I’m sorry” always works well. And maybe you can offer to buy them a drink – I can speak from personal experience that always helps the sting.
What do people say to you after a bad race that you love?