Run Your Own Race

ImageI am, as I may have mentioned a bazillion times before , not the fastest runner. I’m not even the second, third, or fourth fastest.  And yet, when I’m out running and I come across another runner heading in the same direction, I get this insane urge to try and keep pace with them, to not fall behind.

Last year, I trailed behind this guy who must have been an extra from X-Men, with mutant speedy powers, because he flew ahead of me for MILES. I kept working and working to keep him in sight, and wound up with a stitch in my side and out of breath. He kicked to a fast finish and gave me a friendly nod and wave as he turned to walk and cool down. He was done, and I’d wasted my energy with three miles left to go.

This past Sunday I set out in the afternoon and in less than a mile, at the stop sign where I turn, I caught sight of a woman about my age jogging in my direction. I had to struggle to remind myself that her pace, no matter what it was, wasn’t mine. I listened for her footsteps behind me as I ran the next leg of my route, and when I crossed the road, I risked a look back. 

She was gone, finished and headed into her house or running down some side street I’d passed. Our routes had never really been the same after all, aside from that brief moment. And yet I’d concentrated on hearing her footsteps instead of my own.

In writing, it’s the same. It’s easy sometimes to focus on what others have accomplished instead of on your own journey, and hard to watch as others speed by to land agents, book deals, movie rights. But your story is unique and there’s no timeline, no correct pace for success. All you can do is control what you can — your writing — and remember to breathe. The rest will come on its own. 

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Liz Michalski


  1. Mary on November 20, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Great post! Important words to remember.

    • liz on November 20, 2012 at 7:56 pm

      Thank you, Mary. It looks like you’ve run in some wonderful places. I appreciate you stopping by!

  2. Mom on November 20, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Excellent…as always!

    • liz on November 20, 2012 at 7:55 pm

      Thanks, Annie. : )

  3. vaughnroycroft on November 20, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Such a perfect reminder, Liz. I’ve been too worried about the externals lately. My wonderful wife always says, “Do your best and let go of the outcome.” When she loses a listing or a sale (she’s a realtor) she calls out, “Next!” I’ll do my best to learn from both of you in the coming weeks. Thanks.

    • liz on November 20, 2012 at 7:55 pm

      Vaughn, not only are you running your own race, you are out there cheering everyone else on too. (And I like your wife’s philosophy — I’m ready to adopt it too!)

  4. Sevigne on November 20, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    I was in a conversation with one of my critique partners earlier today because she was anxious about her writing. She told me, “you are much more confident than I am.” (And she likes my writing: Win-win for me!)

    I am confident because just over a year ago I stopped looking at anything or anyone outside of myself to give me the answers. The minute I did that I found a place inside myself that had been waiting for me, my whole life, to trust its ability to grow me as a person (and, subsequently, a writer).

    Paradoxically, my confidence comes not from the quality of my writing but from seeing its measurable growth over four, five, ten months, a year; even two weeks. It’s the measurement of the growth–the fact that it’s happening–that increases my confidence daily. The writing is merely a by product that demonstrates the truth of this growth, and the truth that evolution is real on every level imaginable (and unimaginable).

    It is challenging to let go of everything and trust in something you’ll never able able to see. It can feel like free falling into oblivion (or, worse, not knowing). But as soon as I realized that no one else would ever to be able to give me the answers that only I could find, by trusting this invisible self–not even my favourite instructors and writer friends–I found it very easy to let go completely; to discover the kind of true self-confidence I had seen in a handful of other people but, until a year ago, had never experienced in myself.

    • liz on November 20, 2012 at 7:54 pm

      Sevigne, that’s a wonderful transformation. Trust in yourself can be so hard to obtain. I’m glad you’ve managed to find it.

  5. Jo Eberhardt on November 20, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Thank you. This is so perfect, and just what I needed to read today.

    • liz on November 20, 2012 at 7:51 pm

      Thanks, Jo. I hope it helped. And thanks for stopping by!

  6. […] writing this, I happened across a great post by Liz Michalski titled Run Your Own Race. It […]

  7. Jan O'Hara on November 24, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    I’m late but this is a perfect metaphor, Liz. Funnily, when I hike, I like to send people on before me so I can adopt the pace that suits me. I usually end up doing far better than anticipated, surprising them as well as myself. Maybe that could be true of my writing. Hmmm.

    • liz on November 28, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      I think our writing pace and our hiking pace would be well suited to each other, Jan.

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