Running Your Own Race


Every Tuesday night, I run in a local road race. The course takes you through woods, fields and a river. It’s beautiful. While I love the scenery and the physical challenge, what really keeps me coming back are all the life lessons that show up for me each week.

I never know what lesson it might be ahead of time. But one thing I can always count on is that it will be something meaningful for my life and how I live it. This week was no different. Give me a moment here to set this up so you have an image in your mind.

Along the route, there are a couple of places where you have to veer off the main path for a bit in order to get the mileage to add up to a 5k. It doesn’t contribute a lot more, but it is part of the race.

In one section of the course, as I am gaining on the person in front of me, we hit one of those veer-off places. Only the woman didn’t veer off, while I did. This meant that the distance she was running was less than I was running. Meaning, that where I had been close to passing her, I lost that advantage.

Right away I noticed my mind pick up its pace. Should I call out to here and let her know? Maybe I should find her after the race to let her know she had missed a section? Maybe she was new to the course and didn’t know? Maybe she did it intentionally? Maybe she just forgot?

As I was watching the parade of thoughts go through my mind, it occurred to me how much this absolutely did not matter. What an incredible metaphor for life this moment was. We’re all running our own race, and it truly does not not matter what anyone else does in theirs. It only matters what you do in the running of yours.

Will it look like some people are cutting corners and maybe even getting away with it? Yes. Will some people be given an unfair advantage of one sort or another? Definitely. Might there be some outright cheaters? For sure. Might another’s actions degrade the race for all? Unfortunately, yes.

Now I know we could all argue that fair is fair, and that there need to be rules we all abide by. And I would agree. However, there is something even more important here at the end of the day. That “something more important” is the quality, the feel and the sanity of your own life. With that said, you’ve got to be willing to look at and let go of those things that degrade how it feels to be alive.

For my money, monitoring other people’s choices is at the top of the list when it comes to creating suffering in my life.

So while the justice part of me can often struggle with what other people are doing that I believe is unfair, none of it matters. What matters is that I run my own race and do the best that I can. What matters is that I keep my eye on my own pace. What matters is that I recognize the effort I am putting in and give myself lots of grace on the days when I don’t feel at my “personal best.”

We waste a lot of time each and every day worrying about and commenting on how others are running their race when that energy would be better served keeping us on track in our own lives.