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I am really new to this and realize this question may not fit here but couldn't find a great fit, so please let me know and I can move it. (Also, I'm posting on my husband's account, I'm not really a bald guy.)

I absolutely love running but recently I have found that I have been tying a lot of my self-worth to my ability to run. Over the last few years my sister-in-law has picked up running and I feel threatened. For some reason it feels that if she is also a runner then...what makes me special?

I hate this feeling. I know that I should just be happy for her wanting to run more but anytime she brings it up I instantly feel unhappy and angry. I really feel like we could have a great relationship if it wasn't for these feelings that I have been having.

So...is this a normal feeling? And are there any good steps that could be taken to help me overcome it? I've addressed it with her and tried to be open but it still weighs heavily upon me.

Thanks in advance!

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  • Curiously, why don't you have these feelings towards other runners in general? This doesn't seem to be a physical achievement thing because plenty of people are faster than you I'd imagine (same for me). So why feel this way about someone who isn't really that much "better" than you, but not have these feelings towards elite level runners?
    – Eric
    Oct 9 '14 at 5:49
  • A suggestion: Find a musical instrument you like, buy it, practice for months, and become very good. Create another expert area of your own. Running will then not be the only thing keeping it up for you. Do this in several fields and suddenly, even though somebody might be better than you at one thing, non have the same package as you do.
    – Steeven
    Oct 9 '14 at 7:45
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First, let's think about this in a more general sense (i.e. it's not a specific person that causes this problem). For example, when you haven't run for a couple days, and you pass a runner while you're driving, do you feel strangely jealous? Do thoughts go through your head such as "Ugh, I haven't run in two days. And look a this person trying to rub it in." Have you ever heard about a race that you missed or forgot about and think "Why didn't I run that race? I'm such a slacker!" I think it's common. That's how I feel sometimes.

A similar thought I have is, "How was my last run?" If it was "too short", or "too slow", then similar negative feelings can come about: "Why didn't I push myself more?"

As with any sport or hobby, I think the best way to deal with this (fear? jealousy? insecurity?) is to remember that you really should just be competing against yourself. The reason that you run is because you enjoy it, right? You run for you. I run for me. Aren't we all just trying to get faster or better at longer distances than a former version of ourselves?


Now on to your sister-in-law. Maybe she is going to be feeling this new incredible feeling as a born again runner. Try to avoid feeling threatened by her. Think about your own running journey, your own goals. Take it as a positive: maybe you'll benefit by having her burning a fire under you, helping you to keep your goals. And if you stay cool and keep running for you, hopefully her running won't bother you as much. Maybe you can go to one another for advice. Or even enter races together some day!

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You are not alone in this feeling, it is a common joke that once you begin lifting weights to get bigger muscles, you no longer lift to get "big", you lift to get "bigger/better than others".

You already acknowledge that you don't like these feelings, they will probably fade with time (they did for me). Don't beat yourself up about it, it is normal to have competitive urges, even if they feel out of place.

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It's a hard transition to make, but you won't be truly happy in anything, until you realize that the only person to compare yourself to is yourself. No matter what you do, it is likely that there are many people that are at least as good, if not better than you are at it. When you can find enjoyment in doing something just because you're doing it, not because of what people say or think about you, or how it may elevate social status, etc., then you've got it.

What makes you special...is you. Nothing more. There are things that you can do that she can't, and there are things that she can do that you can't. There are things that you both can do, and possibly do together.

If you enjoy running, then run. Take pleasure in just getting out the door, enjoying nature and the feelings that it gives you. If she joins you, great. Enjoy the company. If she doesn't, that's fine too. When she achieves something, praise it honestly, and don't be jealous or envious. When you achieve something, don't lord it over anyone.

Be humble in victory and gracious in defeat. Be more concerned with your character than your reputation. - John Wooden

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I think it's natural in relationships that you have different strengths, if someone completely dominates the other, it is natural to have bad feelings.

You need to figure out what other qualities you have as a person, or develop them. If your stamina is the personal quality you think of as your greatest, you have a lot of soul searching to do.

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