The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself

I doubt I’m the only one that reaches for the stats on my exercise tracking app as soon as I’ve finished a session to see how I’ve progressed, regressed or stayed the same since my last workout. It then goes deeper, as I look at sessions at the same time last year and shame myself that I am still not back to the level of fitness I was at then. Maybe it is just me.


There is also another annoyance that comes with these apps. Picture this, you’ve just finished your longest training run of the month, and you’ve shaved 2 minutes off your average pace. You’re a sweaty mess, breathing heavily and downing your water from the bottle that you’ve carried all the way but not touched until now. You begin reliving the run, and checking your stats for certain sections analysing your performance and preparing for self-congratulation.


The option on the app to see how other people who use the app have done on the same sections as you. Yep, there you are, 9th fastest in the last week. You tell yourself that those above you are younger, fitter, without the same distractions as you in life. Its so easy for them, and they shouldn’t take life so seriously. Then you see Barry from round the corner, the guy you see out running occasionally and tell yourself you’re faster and fitter and look better in running gear than him. But you’re not, the figures don’t lie, and you quickly conclude that Barry is clearly a twat on steroids.


There are various options of tracking apps out there, RunKeeper, Strava, MapMyRun etc.. and everyone has their preferences. In fact, the one you use also seems to breed competitiveness and a sense of anxiety. If you ask which one someone uses, their answer will be followed by a clear explanation as to why they chose that one and what makes it the best option for them. I’d criticise such behaviour if I weren’t guilty of it myself. To add to this, when people on the same app as you start looking at your stats, you begin the diatribe again, explaining that on that particular Sunday you had broken your leg in four places falling down the stairs and that’s why you only managed a 10 minute mile.


However, we all need to be less hard on ourselves. We should be pleased that we are getting out and exercising in the first place, it isn’t always an easy step. What the apps can do is make it much easier to motivate by tracking our own progress against ourselves, not anyone else. What Barry is doing is irrelevant, he’s not you, and you’re not him. Push yourself to be the best you can be, and set your own goals to help yourself along your path, whatever your personal goal.

Exercise and fitness goals are very personal things. You’re always likely to come across someone who you perceive as being fitter, leaner and healthier than you, but always remember, that you’re probably that person to someone else.