“Run Your Own Race”

Reflections as a Runner by Sarah Bowen Shea

by Sarah Bowen Shea, Founder of Another Mother Runner & Author of “Run Like a Mother”

ExportPostEarlier in this training cycle for Boston, I admitted to my coach I was getting caught up in competing with my beloved running partner, Molly. I’ve been a lifelong runner, while Molly took up the sport about seven years ago; we’ve been best running friends (BRFs) for about five years, and I love her dearly. Since I’ve qualified for Boston twice, our unspoken dynamic was that I am faster.

Until this training cycle. Suddenly Molly was able to surge several steps ahead of me on intervals or summit a hill repeat yards ahead of me—and it was messing with my mind. In addition, the added stress of playing “catch-up” to Molly was fatiguing me almost as much as the effort of the intervals or repeats.

When I told my coach about it, she put it to me this way: In a workout or in a race, you can use others to push yourself to your best, yet you should never use another person as an ultimatum. Meaning if your goal becomes only to beat that person, you defeat the effort of running your best. Then you are running just to beat an unpredictable thing–how someone else will run! You must run your own race and use others as a tool, not a deterrent.

I let my coach’s words sink in, and I constantly hear murmurs and echoes of them on training runs. Thanks to this valuable lesson, I am intent on running from Hopkinton to Boston solo. Yes, there will be 30,000 runners all around me (well, mostly ahead of me!) but I am vowing to not get caught up in their cadence, their pace, their race strategy. I’m going to let my own power push me from Hopkinton to Boston at the pace I’m trained to run, at the speed my determination propels me.

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