How to Beat the Comparison Trap

Last weekend I was leaving my long run, feeling pretty darn good about the strong 10 miles I busted out.  I was walking tall.  Then as I was out to my car I passes a group of girls (about my age) cheering someone in at the finish of their run. As I passed I overheard, “I’m so pumped I maintained a 9:15 pace through that run!”  Shot to the heart! 9:15?? I couldn’t hold that pace through a 5K, let alone a double digit run!  All the sudden I felt like a deflated balloon.


Haven’t we all done it?  “If only I had her metabolism.”  “She can run so fast.”  “I have the fat gene so I have to work twice as hard for half the results.”  “That model on pinterest has abs like I could only dream of.”

And, of course, it’s not limited to fitness—we compare houses, cars, husbands, children, schools, jobs, clothes, tans, makeup, wrinkles, spirituality, and more.

So how to beat the comparison trap?  I don’t claim to have all the answers, but here are some things that helped me.

Never judge.

don't judge

Easier said than done, but when you’re out running and someone breezes past you don’t get down.  They may have been a collegiate runner. They may be running sprints.  They may be in the first mile of their run.  In the same way don’t feel all high and mighty when you’re the person passing.  Don’t look down on the people just starting out, the mom’s getting back after it, the person recovering from injury or those of us who just aren’t at your pace.  When I run, I seriously like to high-five everyone!  My favorites are people who are older and overweight…that they are out there bustin’ out runs, making positive changes for themselves, inspires me. Your slow journey, your less-than-perfect results might be just the push someone else needs to keep going, so don’t quit now!

Own your path.


So we aren’t judging anyone else and let’s assume (for the sake of our sanity) that no one else is judging you or if they are they are sad, broken people who need to see a therapist Winking smile.  You KNOW what is best effort, good, or ok for you. You know what you are satisfied with so own your path!  I knew on Saturday that I had a GREAT run!  I had never felt stronger on a double digit run and that was something to be proud of.  I also know that some days I’m slightly sick, upset, or giving myself a break and just showing up is a huge accomplishment.  On another note, do take into account that everyone has different goals.  What you do for the goal of weight loss isn’t the same as what someone else is doing for the goal of building muscle, isn’t the same as what someone else is doing for the goal of running a marathon. We are on different paths, that’s ok, but own your path—do what you KNOW you need to do to be successful. Then at the end of the day when someone is faster or stronger you can still hold your head high because you did what you needed to do.

Also—the models you see on the runways, the actresses, and all those “fitspo” photos of headless women with great bodies and motivation quotes across them on Pinterest—they don’t count.  They aren’t even part of this game.  There are such unrealistic standards to attain to—they don’t even look like that thanks to the genius of photoshop. Just forget about them or feel sorry for them because constantly being judged by your exterior is no way to live.

How do you handle comparison? Does it ever steal your joy?

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  1. Great reminder. Thanks for it. I try not to do comparisons but it does happen sometimes anyway.

    And good for you to do that strong 10 miles!

  2. Great post. It’s so true and it’s often so hard not to compare. Only recently have I managed to stop (mostly) comparing myself to others.

    Just concentrate on where YOU”VE come from and your journey. Celebrate your accomplishments! and great 10 mile run!

    1. Absolutely! It is a hard thing to break free from–something that I’m still making progress in, but definitely not perfect at yet. And thank you! I’m excited about how my next run goes–stronger every time!

  3. Great post! My favorite runners are the same as yours… the people who are over weight and pushing to make their dreams come true. That are out there DOING it! I don’t think I’m even as dedicate to making my dreams come true as they are!

    Congrats on that 10 miler. Kickin’ butt!

  4. Love this! I have a hard time not comparing my body to others.. body image is such a hard thing to deal with sometimes!

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