“Don’t worry about those other guys, just run your race,” words every track coach should tell their runners. Or the any-sport substitute: “Just play your game.”

You cannot waste your time thinking what the opposition is planning to do- they are going to use their talents and try to take away your strengths. It works the same in every sport. What it comes down to is being able to play your game regardless. If your game is pace pushing, fast breaks, slow and steady, hard defense or attacking on the transition- you know if you play it right it will work out for you. The every man’s way of saying this is just do you. It may sound like an overstated piece of advice, but there is a reason it’s said so much. It is because nothing else anyone else does, thinks or says really matters. None of those things have power over you unless you relinquish it to them.

It may help to think of your work or your life as a race, but understand that this isn’t the Olympic 100-meter dash or the Boston Marathon. It is more like a 5k fun run. There are no winners and no losers. You cannot go out trying to set a personal or course record, but you shouldn’t just stop halfway through. You may be trying to come in before someone you know, but you aren’t aiming to leave everyone in the dust. Competition is a fundamental aspect of life, but the lives we have built for ourselves no longer require us to be in fight or flight 24-7. Step back and relax for a second, breathe and enjoy what you are doing. If you don’t like what you’re doing, don’t do it!

If you think you do not have a choice in your situation; first of all you do, and second you’re not running your race. Do not try and measure yourself to see how you stack up against everyone else that comes along. I can assure you they are not coming from the same place, and whatever has brought them to be here now has been a road of struggles and triumphs very different from your own.

You see, it is a fun run. It doesn’t matter how fast you get to the finish because you are going to get there eventually along with everyone else. Don’t think about other people’s plans of how they are going to get through this because they aren’t you. Tune out the competition because they don’t matter. Accept the challenges in front of you because they don’t matter. Forget about the struggles you’ve been through because they don’t matter and don’t start thinking about what you’ll do when you finish because it doesn’t matter.

Don’t take this the wrong way and assume some nihilistic stance on the universe. Just stop worrying about the things that you cannot control or do not matter. That’s how you accomplish the things that need to get done and how you find enjoyment in what you are doing. This is your race, you’ve been training for X years of your life to get here, and you are going to do fine. Now run.