Next year I turn 40.
When I ran my first half marathon I was 26 years old. It felt like a “late” start to running (I DREADED the mile in middle school and avoiding running for the most part except for to burn calories) but I feel in love with the sport!
I ran my first marathon at 28 years old.
It’s been 8 years since I set my half & full marathon PRs (and a 5K PR too!).
Needless to say, things have changed.
In my 20s:
- I had just started running and PR’d at almost every race I ran
- I had energy to go out for an 18 mile long run and then spend the rest of the day out with friends (fun story – the day Mike proposed I had ran 18 miles. We walked a mile to breakfast and he proposed on the beach then we went on a hot air balloon ride).
- I had lots of time to nap and catch up on sleep on weekends
- I liked to use my disposable income on running gadgets, race entries, & fancy gear
- I could travel for races & not worry about who would watch my kids
- I was OBSESSED with my running goals
Running in My 30s
Here’s the good news: there’s actually evidence that your running pace doesn’t dramatically change in your 30s. “When analyzing age group world records, Fair found no decline in race results of runners younger than 35, and between 35 and 40, runners slowed down by only 1 percent over the five-year span.” – Runners World
Despite that, you may be running slower, like I have been.
In my late 30s, as a mom of 3 young children, my priorities have shifted. I have less time too focus on training, less time to sleep and recover, my body is older. I’ve noticed if I don’t eat well I don’t sleep as well and I gain weight faster.
Despite a huge change in priorities, motivations & circumstances, I’ve often compared myself to the runner I was when I set my PRs.
Last year, I let the comparison game steal my joy as I made my “come back” after having the twins. The comeback was MUCH slower than I expected.
My perspective changed this year. I’m not sure if it was feeling better than I have in years thanks to 4 week gut protocol or maybe it was an ah-ha moment after years of investing personal development and self coaching.
But I finally realized that I can want to improve and be accepting of where I’m at at the same time.
I’m feeling more motivated and excited to train for Rock n Roll San Diego half (and possibly a fall full) than I have in a long time.
Now I’m using my old times as proof of what’s possible BUT I’m also looking at my current strengths as been more proof that my NEW running goals are possible.
Instead of trying to PR at Rock n Roll in June, I’ve set a nice stretch goal that challenges me but also encourages me because it feels within reach. It feels good to work toward it. I’m not stuck in the past anymore.
Instead of comparing to all those “advantages” my 20 something self had, I’m recognizing all the ways I’ve grown since then.
Nicole the runner in 2022 is physically strong, understands her fueling needs, has thousands and thousands of miles under her belt and has a tough mindset. THAT is progress! That is growth from the runner who set the PRs.
We so often look at objective measures of success- times and paces and accolades – to validate our worthiness and happiness as runners. But really, contentment comes down to progress and growth. And sometimes that progress is those intangibles that can’t be measured.
If you struggle with comparison I encourage you to write a list of all the ways you HAVE grown. Journal what you love about running. Ask yourself, why do I truly do this? How can I work smarter, not harder now?
I have a feeling your answers will help bring you some peace & may even fire you up.