Perspective: a case of the onlys

It’s funny how so often we get wrapped up in our own world and only see things through that one lens.

I’ve been training with Rogue for more than two years (with a break or two thrown in) and I’m constantly surrounded by people who are faster, stronger, and run further than I could ever hope to. In this world, I’m the slow, stubborn half-marathoner. Not to be confused with the faster runners, the marathoners, the ultra-marathoners, the Team Rogue-ers. And I judge myself harshly in comparison. I find myself qualifying my runs with “only.” I only ran 10 miles–after all, this other woman ran 28, and that guy ran 22, and this group who ran 12 finished half an hour before I did.

But I realized yesterday that through someone else’s lens, I’m the one doing something difficult.

I was chatting about college football with some students at the end of class, and I mentioned that on Saturday I ran 12 miles, then sat on the couch watching one game after another for almost 12 hours. One student gasped, “You ran HOW far?” Another looked at me, eyes wide. “Whoa.”

And it struck me that in this world, through this lens, my 12 miles was … impressive.

Since seventh-graders aren’t known for being easily impressed (especially by adults, even moreso by their teachers), their reactions spoke volumes. Here I was, only-ing my 12 slow miles in the cold because I didn’t even run a half-marathon that day, and yet a bunch of middle-schoolers thought that same 12 miles was ridiculously long.

Other runners have nothing but positive support for me. Same with my family. But among my running friends, I constantly push myself to keep up–in my mind my performance is average at best. Yet a wide-eyed “whoa!” from a teenager shook up my worldview a little. I’m constantly reminding them not to preface their comments with statements like, “This is probably the wrong answer, but…” that downplay their importance. I tell them to speak their opinions with confidence, not offer caveats.

Caveats like only.

Guess I need to take my own advice now and then.

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