by Scott Gillum
Estimated read time: 3 Minutes

I was out for a run this weekend and heard the footsteps coming from behind me. Soon, he was on me, and then past me. At that point I increased my pace as the competitive instinct kicked in when the words “run your race” ran through my mind.

It’s a lesson I learned many years ago while training for 10 milers. After many months of training, planning my race strategy, and setting time goals, I’d be thrown off my pace early in a race, as soon as someone in my age group was passing me.

Chasing them, I thought, was pushing me to a better end result. At least, the competitor in me believed. In reality, it only drained my tank causing me to be out of gas later in the race, resulting in a poor time and disappointment. All the months of training wasted because I ran someone else’s race.

Unemployment is now at its highest level since the great depression which has touched all of us in some way. It’s an incredibly difficult time that can easily be made more stressful by how we now measure ourselves, and our success.

It’s easy to become a victim of the trap I fell into running races. Comparing ourselves to others, feeling like you’re falling behind or being passed by your peers. It’s a feeling all too familiar. In the first 2 years of marriage, my wife and I were laid off a combined total of 4 times.

The first, a month after we put a deposit on a house. By the fourth “downsizing,” my parents were helping us pay our mortgage and my wife’s parents were bringing us groceries.

So first know this, this is not your fault, it’s not something you did. You’ve hit a very challenging and unplanned part of the course.

Second, no one remembers where you started or how many people passed you during the race, only the end results will be remembered. And most importantly, the only thing that matters about the results will be how you will feel about them.

By the third or fourth race, I had developed the discipline to stick to my race plan. My performance improved, but more importantly, so did my sense of accomplishment. I also noticed another thing even more satisfying, the guys who passed me earlier were now being passed by me later in the race.

Our lives are made up of a series of marathons. There are still many miles and difficult stretches of road to cover. Keep your head up, eyes focused forward, and run your race.

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