The Pursuit of the Personal Best


I grew up a high strung kid. Most people would likely still say I'm a high strung adult, slightly too anxious, and always reaching for the unattainable. In many ways, I'd say they are right, or more certainly that they were right. Today, more than ever, we are surrounded by ideals of perfection. We see them on facebook, instagram, snapchat, and blogs. We are bombarded with the images and videos captured on only someone's very best day... marked in the illusion that life can be like this all the time. I'm personally extremely guilty of using social media to portray my "best self" through the portal of imaginary reality that I'm living my best life. Then, as I'm sure we all-too-intimately relate, on the inside we're faced with questions like is this enough? Am I enough? What am I missing out on? 

This wasn't a new phenomenon for me. I think I experienced the term "FOMO" far earlier than the concept existed in any type of abbreviated form. I always felt an urge to be at the center of the action. I always longed for the moments that were just distant enough in the future to still be dripping in imagination. At any instance I was doing one thing, a part of me felt so strongly I wanted to be doing something else. This bred a nervousness in me. It created a concept that whatever I was doing wasn't as good as I what I could be doing. It cultivated the concept that if I just worked a little harder, expelled a little more energy, ate a little less, trained a little longer... you could imagine this is a slippery slope. 


In college it spiraled so far out of control that I lost sight of what I wanted in the long term to focus on the "image" of what I thought I could portray of a life I wasn't even leading. The concept of sharing experiences with others forced me away from experiencing them myself. Immediately following that, I realized that the sharing wasn't the issue, but the perception of being and thriving didn't stand a chance when measured against an external scale. 

The concept of the happy runner was born on the backbone of this timid realization.  The happy runner is not distracted by comparisons, put-downs, or the concept that every race needs to be competitive with the elites. As a runner, the concept of "personal best" is not only key, but critical. While the goal of being elite is both attainable and important to keep in one's mind, it shouldn't and - if we are lucky - isn't the climax of the sport. Bearing ability, opportunity, and injury in mind, we - the happy runners - move along the trails and pavement in pursuit of much more personal and internal goals. 

It's one of the most beautiful things about the sport, but also a saving and guiding concept for life outside. While the transfer isn't as obvious as I'd like to now believe, once you see it - my dear - I promise it's impossible to unsee. Now, the sight of fast feet at the front of the pack, of an adventurous soul on an instagram account serves to be inspiration rather than envy. 


Now my goals and ideas are different. I work to be the most fit version of myself. I run as often as I can without losing sleep. I go to yoga every day my schedule allows for. I walk the careful side of the line between being motivated to wake up and work out in the morning, and sleeping enough to not act like a crazy lady at work. I put my soul into everything I do when I work out, when I work, and when I'm out of work.Now I conquer big races and satisfy big dreams without the fear that I'm not being my best self.

In this process I was humbled by my own limitations, and lifted by my successes and improvements. 

The concepts are transferable right off the road and into our lives. We are the creators of our personal best. We can choose the events in which we compete. Then, as we train we'll face unforeseen obstacles and we will have to adapt. We may never feel as good at mile 17 as we looked in the finish line photos, but that doesn't mean we didn't deserve the glory when we got there. 


If I could go back in time, I would remind that anxious little girl that life is like running. I would tell her that every moment won't be glorious, but it will be necessary. I would ask her not to worry about what everyone else is doing in an attempt to focus and strive for her own personal best. Most importantly, I would tell her that despite whatever she sees in the endless world of idealistic images around her, life is the most personal sport. 

Now get out there, because that's the only way to see what you're made of.

<3 The Happy Runner