How I Learned to Stop Judging and Start Running

Written by Will Teng
How I Learned to Stop Judging and Start Running

Studying to become a health and fitness coach has brought to my attention many interesting concepts. For me, the most powerful and difficult to master is releasing judgment.

The idea is that when you judge, you are forcing personal values on others, and judgments are often a projection of your own issues.

I used to judge people 24-7.

I wasn’t trying to be mean, but judgments just popped into my head constantly.

Why didn’t that guy comb his hair?

This lady at the checkout counter is so slow.

Pure incompetence. I can’t believe he has a job.

To curb my habit, I've applied what I have learned from running events to my everyday life.

Can’t judge by the cover

Participants of running events come in all sizes and shapes. A more athletic physique doesn’t always equal to a faster time.

During runs, I’m frequently passed by people that were skinnier, heavier, taller and shorter or of different ethnicities, gender and age, you name it.

Everyone has a different goal

Every person has a different reason for why they're running that day. Passing a person on any given day doesn’t mean a thing. I might be trying to set a new personal record, but the guy in the yellow tank top could have been sick all week and is just trying to survive the race. The lady in green shoes could be working on her cadence. Who knows?

Stay positive

The running community has created a uniquely supportive culture in which runners of all levels compete at the same time on the same course. Competitiveness and encouragement exist harmoniously.

When a fellow runner overtakes me, there's a split second in which I’m thinking, “I can’t believe I’m letting this guy beat me!”

Then frustration usually turns into admiration, “Got to hand it to him. Great job!”

Support and appreciation can be felt throughout the race by everyone: runner, volunteers, and spectators.


Some races take several hours, providing plenty of time to self-reflect. My mind tends to wonder, but I try to listen to my body, both mentally and physically. Improvement comes from within, not by judging and comparing yourself to others.

You get what you give

In running, proper effort will result in positive result. This is guaranteed, which is quite rare in life. In career and relationships for example, such direct causal effect are unusual. However, progress is not absent.

It might be invisible at the moment, but my efforts have already planted seeds.

I truly believe that good things will happen on a journey that is aligned with my passion, and that’s when happiness, confidence and release of self-judgment and judgment of others are possible.

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