Can't help comparing myself, what can I do?

Hi Everyone,

I'm new here and I was mainly writing to see if anyone has any tips for me to help me stop comparing myself to my boyfriend when at the gym.

When I started the gym I felt so great when I finished my workout and proud of myself, since starting with my boyfriend (we've been to the gym together twice now) I feel so deflated and anxious before going, and disappointed when we finish. The reasoning behind this is that I'm really not a physically fit person and struggle with exercise majorly, I'm just not good at it lol, but my boyfriend previously was a biker, rock climber and runner so just destroys a workout, he's like some sort of superhero haha.

He's just entered himself into a 5K run this month too and when we got to the gym yesterday he ran on the treadmill for 2k none stop with such ease, then went on the bike and did 10k and I couldn't even complete my first day of Run To 5K (on the app).

I spoke to my boyfriend before we went because he could tell I was anxious and he told me himself that we all go at different paces and he's got the advantage of previously being a runner and biker and I'm only just starting out and have to build myself up and that I do so well when I go and he's so proud of me, but I just can't stop feeling rubbish about how little I'm achieving compare to him.

Does anyone have any tips on a way I can make myself feel better about this?

I know it might sound silly but it's really playing on my mind. I also suffer with anxiety and depression, I'm not sure if that will make a difference for you all to know.

Thanks in advance.


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35 Replies

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  • Leave the boyf at home when you go to the gym?? You are in a competition with yourself, nobody else. You set your goals based on what you want to achieve. I'm guessing you are considerably younger than me and because of that when you graduate you will be "better" than me. Except you won't be because I am focussing on the fact that I am fitter than I used to be. I think your problems with anxiety and depression probably are relevant because your post is quite negative. So lets turn this round.....You got off the couch, you have set yourself some goals, you are going to the gym (braver than me too), sounds like you have a lovely boyfriend :) so chin up and believe in yourself :)

  • Thank you so much! That was really lovely to hear and was a real good mood booster. Really appreciated and I'll deffo take in your advice!! :)

  • I agree entirely! Focus on the good of what you are doing and how it is benefitting you. Your boyfriend sounds very encouraging, but I think that you are better off with solo gym trips at least for now. I actually find it really hard to exercise in tandem with other people and don't really enjoy it, if I'm honest. (Read: I am an antisocial so and so...).

  • Hey louise alice123. First off damned well done for joining the programme. Let me be a little bit tough and ask you a question, would you as an ordinary human being compare yourself to Usain Bolt or Mo Farah? I don't think you really would and comparing yourself to someone who is so much ahead of you in their fitness life (like your boyfriend) is a big stress monster.

    I came back to running after a long break, Mr JCR is a major league long distance cyclist and he asked me if I had considered cycling instead, to get fit. And yes I had, for all of about a nano second - for precisely the same reason as you state here; I didn't want to be compared to him even if it was me doing the comparison.

    So please try not to look across at his gym work, just try and focus on your own. Some folk here prefer to run and train on their own, precisely so comparisons cannot be made in their own heads. Others like running buddies, only you know which you prefer.

    You started on run 1, where we all do. It is tough if you haven't done anything for a while, but you know what, it gradually builds up. And the best comparison you can make is to yourself and your own achievements and successes.

    Reasons to be cheerful

    1 - You've kicked the couch

    2- You go to the gym

    3- You have by the sounds of thing a partner who can give you encouragement and support when you're running

    4- You just did your first run, okay maybe you didn't finish it all, but it's precisely one whole run that you did more than last week.

    5- You are climbing your own mountain, but you have come here to the most supportive, helpful running club in the world. There's loads of folk on the same type of journey as you. Most of us thought the programme writers were having a laugh when they asked us to do 60 seconds of running in Week 1. Look at the posts for each week, as you can see there's lots of us at different stages.

    6. Don't worry about the C25K in 9 weeks, weeks aren't necessarily calendar, lots of us take longer. That doesn't matter, every run counts, every run goes into your stamina and km bank.

    7. Next time out, I promise you you'll do a little better than this time. And that's one of the keys to feeling better about it.

    It's certainly not silly worrying about these things, if you are worried then it plays on your mind and running is done as much in the head as the legs.

    I hope this helps just a bit, but I recommend you look out for posts or any replies from Oldfloss or IannodaTruffe, they are our very wise and wonderful site mentors. Anything they say will really help you in your running life.

    Good luck and well done on running and posting here.

  • Wow, Thank you so much, what a lovely response. I can't tell you how much I appreciate your supportive attitude and how amazing it was to read. You're completely right, and I feel so proud of myself for making the step to get fitter and learn to run. I wouldn't compare myself to Usain or Bolt, no, so why compare myself to my boyfriend? This is for me.

    What a fantastic attitude to life you have, I cannot thank you enough for your response, I really appreciate it. :)

  • No probs, you're part of the club now! One day I promise you will read a post from a W1 newbie who is frightened and you will help them. Running karma is what happens on here!

    Really looking forward to hearing about your next run out. Good luck and happy running.

  • Your doing great, a little more confidence is needed. We all start at the beginning and your boyfriend understand this, which trust me is something to be very pleased about. We can hear other stories on here, so it sounds like he is one of the good guys πŸ˜€. It is your journey, try and sit down and write a list of all the positive things you are doing for yourself, just by taking the first step of your journey.

    1) getting healthy

    2) getting fitter

    3) getting stronger.

    These are just three to start off with, there are many more and they don't have anything to do with anybody else they are all fantastic achievements and all the things you will be doing for yourself regardless what anyone else in your life is doing,

    I do understand how you feel though, my husband is faster than me and I try not to let it get to me. There are many things I can do better than him, we all have our strengths and weaknesses so celebrate your differences and try not to let it spoil what is going to be a great addition to your life.

  • He really is so supportive of me and always encouraging me to be my best self, I've got really lucky haha :D That's a great idea thank you so much! That's a really great way to look at it, we do all have different strengths and weaknesses you're right! Thank you!

  • Fab replies here from everybody, as expected!

    I would add that my husband is super-proud that I am on this journey. He is much fitter than I am, but so supportive, especially as neither of us can really get over how invested I am in this programme. Having said that, I would never consider going to the gym with him, and the one time I knew that he was in the vicinity, I ran on the treadmill in dread that he would come over and "see how I'm doing". So yes, try to train on your own if at all possible, or at least plan your programmes so you can be training in different areas of the gym. Your boyfriend sounds like the kind of guy who will really support you in this.

    And please don't give up - I firmly believe that exercise is key for good mental health.

    Well done, and good luck!

  • Wow, that's so great to hear! I'm glad you're getting good support to help encourage you on your journey! That's a good idea too, I do think that will help me to concentrate on myself more than worry about how far behind I'm getting. Thank you for your support! :)

  • I really love all the replies and can't add any better. I especially liked the line 'we are all climbing our own mountain' from Jancanrun

    I think it is a tough thing to deal with and it must have felt really natural to want to do these things with your boyfriend so it must have felt just that bit sadder when you realised it was making you feel bad. I hope you can re-find that pride and joy in your own gym trips! You should certainly be proud, the first go at the first run is the hardest (honest!).

    Really wishing you well for your own journey here - keep posting if you feel like it, everyone loves to hear how everyone is doing and you can share as much or as little as you like.

  • i honestly can't get over how nice and lovely you all are! I feel so uplifted after reading the nice responses I've received. That's right! We joined the gym to spend more time together so the idea of not going together is scary and saddening, so I've decided to still go with him but also take little trips by myself too! I think the more I do the better I'll feel. Thank you for your lovely comments and support! :)

  • now there's someone who is going to stick at it - "the more I do the better I'll feel" ... :-D I hope you feel better about all your gym sessions whether solo or with the boyf. It can be tough to manage life as well as everything we want to do, but it sounds like you'll work it out :)

  • Turn your 'running telescope' around and look through it the other way - you are MAGNIFICENTLY 'fitter' than the slob who is still sitting on the sofa ;)

    Seriously - you run for you. yes - sometimes I wish I was like the 'Gazelles' who fly past me, but then I remember what it was like a little over a year ago when it came to how I looked on the couch. :)

    Run slowly and steadily and at your own pace - it really is about running, NOT racing ;)

  • That's an excellent way to look at it! I am definitely much fitter than I was just even a few weeks ago, and I'm excited to be fitter and better at running the more I do! What little I do, is still improving MY fitness and that's all I have to think about, I have to be proud of me! Thank you John! :D

  • Your only competitor is yourself :) Some things it's good to compete for - others its better to have fun with. :)

    I run for fun, it's not something I'm too well equipped for but I can do it to a level where I get a huge kick out of it. Mo Farrah would be in the floods of tears if he ever ran even remotely as 'slow' as I do...but I bet Mo would be very happy to be able to approach my level in some other area if he took a fancy to attempting it :)

    If I don't keep running 'fun' on at least some level I am merely being a masochistic idiot 'cos there sure is no other reason for me to go out the door each time :) Some of the other stuff I am acknowledged by my professional peers to be quite good at I merely do to make a living or to have a purpose in life - I can take pride in doing it well but by no stretch of the imagination would I call it 'fun' :)

    So - figure out why you want to run, and then go running :) On those days when a run does not go the way you wished for - bring to mind the reason you went out that day at all ;)

    Wishing you the many happy miles that await you in your future :)

  • You are you.... it is just as simple as that... this is your journey.... yours... :) it your way... you have love, you have support, you have free will, and best of all... you have started this:)

    The programme is intended to be taken slowly and steadily..building up in a structured way to getting you to the thirty minute runs safely, injury free and most of all having had fun!!! Yeay!

    The physical and the mental benefits are amazing... this programme is amazing!!!

    When you are unsure starting something new, it is tricky and so easy to compare yourself with things together, yes... but do them your way... and take some time out for you too.... :)

    Follow the programme... take your rest days... more than one in between each run if you need to... listen to your body and keep posting here for incredible support and advice.

    We will encourage, sympathise , empathise and even give you a gentle shove of necessary!

    " if you run in the footprints of others, how are you going to make any of your own ?"

    You can do this... welcome:)

  • You're all so supportive and lovely and I'm so grateful. I didn't realise what a welcoming community I was joining, but I'm certainly glad I've joined. Thank you so much for your wise words, I'll be sure to keep them in mind! :D

  • What a fabulous quote Oldfloss !

  • I thought about challenging Mike Tyson to a boxing match but realised that maybe as yet we're in different leagues

    There you go, sounds a little bit silly but that's what your doing, listen to what your boyfriends saying and accept his advice/praise because you are doing great and being the best that you can be, keep on following the programme and you will improve

    You really are doing great!

  • ....not even if he let me use a chainsaw would I take on Tyson in the ring :) But - bet I would beat him hollow at Boggle ;)

  • Haha, that's very good advice and I will definitely take it on board, with everybody's supportive attitude I'm feeling better already and can't wait to get fitter and faster in the future. Thank you for your encouragement :D

  • By all means, go to the gym with the bf but try to choose a machine far away from him Maybe don't ask him what he did but instead how he felt about his session. Tell him what you are feeling and ask him to keep the stats to himself but that you are both there to support each other.

  • Hi louisealice123 this is my first post at all on this forum! I've had to get well into the programme to even admit to myself that I am doing it, nevermind turning up in a forum, even anonymously. This is how much of a pretender I feel like around here.

    I will post about my own journey, sometime. But when I was out getting on with it this morning, I realised how comparing myself to my husband is part of what held me back. He has always been such an achiever that I didn't bother to try, beside him.

    So last year we took our children roller skating, and I got on my skates, and he didn't even try.

    And then I realised that I'm a competent swimmer (as in I don't get rescued by lifeguards, and I can 30 lengths), and he won't get in the water.

    So suddenly the fact that at 50 he was pulling himself up and round the monkey bars without any training or preparation, just wandering onto the playground and doing it, meant he was showing off with his own skill. But he doens't own fitness. I realised this only this morning. I an have my own share of taking care of myself.

    I fell into C25K by accident, and I'm still in it. I'm really private and I haven't run with anyone. He's not seen me at all - at weekends I do it before he gets out of bed. It's my business. He's still a little bit disbelieving, but secretly really proud, and glad that I'm now taking care of myself, and really glad that I feel so much better about myself. If your boyfriend loves you, and it sounds like he really does, then he will be glad for every one of your achievements. It's your business whether you do it alongside him or on your own, because this is for you alone. And the better you are for you, the better you are for him. It's not a competition, it's a relationship, and he'll be glad for every step you take. Join him in the gym when *you're* ready, in your mind and on the treadmill.

  • Wow, I loved this! Well done for doing it for you! I'm so glad you're proud of your achievements, because you should be! I totally agree with everything you said and I'm glad you related, you've shown me that I can do it, for me and not to worry about what my boyfriend is doing. He's so supportive, but I just need to work on my own mind and health, that's all! :D Thank you!!

  • Hi Louise Alice ,I agree with all the comments advice given already .

    I've just graduated and like yourself I'm not particularly good at exercise,I definitely lack coordination and fall easily😱

    My husband is the opposite,naturally good at sport it's all very easy to him !

    So the point I make is it doesn't matter ,it's your race ,your journey no one else's and your sense of achievement when you complete your C25K journey.

    You got up of that couch and have started from a more difficult place ,that was tough and you did it !!

    Well done and huge applause for that πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

  • I love that! 'It's your race, your journey, no one else's' I'm really looking forward to going further on my journey to a happier, healthier self and thank you so much for your enthusiasm and support! :)

  • louisealice123 I can't add much to what has already been said, but to say welcome to the forum and don't be so hard on yourself.

    We've all come to running and exercise from different places, different levels of fitness, some with health challenges, others with weight to loose, and all sorts. You have made the effort to get out and make it to the gym. It doesn't matter that your starting point is different to your boyfriends, you don't need to compete with him, just look at the opportunity you have to make progress against your own starting point. It might be worth having a session with a personal trainer who can assess your level of fitness, talk to you about what you want to achieve in the gym and get you started on a programme that's matched to that. As you make progress you will find that you either increase the number of reps or sets, or increase the weight/resistance on the machine. I use a separate app for my gym workouts and since beginning have seen my strength and fitness improve on a number of exercises.

    I couldn't compete with my other half in terms of strength, but it's not about that.

    I'm not sure if you're just running in the gym or doing other exercises. If you're doing C25K I initially did it as my warm up to my gym workout, but as the running increased I found I had to do the running on alternate days, and my gym work out on my running rest days. I still do that even though I've completed C25K. (E.g. I ran a long run yesterday, so today was doing a strength and flexibility workout, with some upper body and core stuff thrown in, and followed this with a quick swim, tomorrow I'll run again, Thursday will be gym, Friday I might do a Zumba Class so not sure if I'll do a short run as well).

    It may also help if your routine goes a different way around the gym to your boyfriend if you go together. That way you still get to go their together and meet up afterwards, but you don't have to be trailing him round and making comparisons with his progress. Get your headphones on and some decent music on your playlist and just immerse yourself in your own fitness. I certainly would avoid running on side by side treadmills. Could you do something else as a warm up while he's running, then get on the treadmill while he's doing other exercises.

    Please don't be put off, I'm sure he's really pleased you are taking an interest in fitness, and we're all pleased you're taking up the C25K challenge.

    Good luck and let us know how you are getting on. :-)

  • Exactly! Thank you, I'm really excited to be able to compare my level of fitness when I get going, to when I started and see what I've accomplished. Yes, I do other exercise too, and I had previously done a fat burner on the treadmill for 25 minutes before I attempted my first run which I think that *hopefully* is the reason I couldn't complete it, so I like the idea of doing it as a warm up to start off then work myself up to have dedicated running days! :D Thank you!!

  • So, there is tons of sound advice there, but you know your post has helped me. I am doing a HM on Sunday and getting quite anxious. It's really playing on my mind that someone at work recently ran their first marathon in little over an hour longer than I am expecting it to take me to do half and what will the runners at work think about how slow I am. Reading your post, thinking you shouldn't compare yourself and you are doing great to have started has made me think why am I doing the same comparing myself to someone half my age and unlike me built like a natural runner -especially when they are such a supportive lot, as your boyfriend sounds. So thank you, keep going and good luck.

  • Wow!! Well done you on going for your first HM! That's so amazing that this post has helped you! You've got exactly the right mind set, everyone is going to be so supportive and proud of you!! And wowzers, I can't imagine the amount of pride you're going to have after taking the leap to have the confidence to do you first run!! Good luck for Sunday!!! xx

  • Do this without need to gain confidence in you! It's not about him, it's not a race or a competition , just take it run at a time and you will be amazed at how fast your stamina builds! 😊

  • You have had some fantastic replies on here, louisealice123 !

    Be very proud of yourself for starting on your fitness improvement. That is a huge step in itself! If you don't finish a run, try not to put too much pressure on yourself. Put it down as a practice run and try again. It doesn't matter how many practice runs you have as this is your own personal journey, taken at your own speed.

    Your boyfriend sounds so nice and supportive. See if you can take on board his support without comparing him to yourself. Believe in yourself. If you are determined, you will get there! Good luck! We are all cheering you on!

  • Thank you! I really am going to try and take in all the amazing advice I've had off you all! It is my own personal journey and I have nobody to compete with and I'm not improving for anybody else, I'm doing it for me! Thank you so much :D

  • Welcome aboard the good ship C25K! You've taken the most important step and got those legs moving. Don't worry about the robots (or superfit people as they like to be known!), it's your journey and with the help & advice of the fantastic people on this forum your worries & anxieties will pop like a little bubble!

    I started the programme having never run before (apart from away from the bar when it was my round) and now find myself giving advice to my Wife and my brother who have just embarked on their running lives.

    Good luck to you, keep posting and enjoy!

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