By Cathy Vandergeest 
Toronto August 10th, 2016

Why did I start running? I started running to maintain my weight, get in a good workout and tire out my high-energy dog. Along the way I found an absolute passion for running. I wasn’t a sporty kid, so being able to do something athletic as an adult made me proud. ‘Runner’ became a title I adopted with great pride.

In that first year, I immersed myself in all things running to learn more. Magazines, on-line articles and social media – which was jam-packed with a welcoming community of runners constantly talking about running, just like me!

Over the next two years, I’ve learned something else that I think is incredibly important for all runners to remember.

New runners come across articles and posts by experts, elites and every day runners talking about speed, technique, distance, pace and races. We get lured in, thinking, okay, this is how to do this! While running tips, tricks and information can be great teaching tools and motivators, the ‘how-to-be-the-best-runner-ever’ advice can also lead runners down a slippery slope.

We feel the pressure to push the envelope. To raise the bar. To be faster. Better. Best. And ultimately, this means every runner out there–with hugely varying abilities–is using the exact same gauge of success. With this only-the-best goal, we feel that we have to make excuses when we don’t achieve a perfect performance. “Oh, I was injured.” “I didn’t fuel properly.” “It was a really crowded course.” Instead of feeling pride when crossing the finish line, we feel guilt.

This realization has helped teach me that my goals can be–and should be–different than those of my running friends. It’s helped me look at the bigger running picture, my skills and to focus on what I want really to accomplish. I can choose to base my goals on the areas of running I’m best at, the parts that really challenge me or the parts that I simply enjoy the most.

Remember, we are all different, we shouldn’t have to set our goals and measure our success with the same ruler.

About Cathy Vandergeest: Even though it’s been over three years since I started running I still get giddy when friends describe me as a runner. I’ve raced every distance up to 30K and train outside year-round. While I strive to live a healthy lifestyle, I also understand the need to add ice cream into the equation! Initially running started out as something just for me, but I’ve found the running community to be one of my biggest sources of inspiration, motivation and information. I love to be able to pay-it-forward and assist or motivate runners just starting or struggling. When not running I keep busy as a graphic designer in a large format print shop, enjoy cooking, gardening and spending time with my family, dogs and friends. Connect with Cathy on Twitter and Instagram