The Difference Between Doing Your Best and Trying Your Hardest

Have you ever had a fortune cookie slap some perspective into you? I have! (I always knew cookies were good for me.) Yesterday my friends and I went down to Chinatown to watch the Chinese New Year Parade. Chinatown is like the happiest war zone on earth during the parade because hundreds of people set off huge, loud, wonderful confetti cannons (2 for $5-arguably the best deal in NYC). Every 5 seconds you hear a thundering boom and then see a rainfall of confetti.

After we worked up an appetite celebrating and shooting confetti cannons, we went out to dinner and then this happened.

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Truer words have never been spoken by a cookie. A goal I set for myself this year was to get faster by running a 1:45 half marathon and break 4 hours in the marathon. Both times are fairly lofty goals for me but definitely possible with some hard work and dedication. I made a plan of attack in January and I started doing speed work twice a week. Almost all of my running has been done on a treadmill and recently I’ve been miserable. I rarely look forward to my post work runs (though I always feel wonderful after it’s over) and I spend every minute watching the clock tick down.

Then on Saturday I got to run with my new best friend Gregg of NYC Sweat in Central Park and he, coupled with my inspirational cookie, put everything back into perspective. We ran 11 effortless miles and laughed the entire way. Both Gregg and my cookie helped me take that necessary step away from my goal and back into the land of the now. I realized that there’s a difference between doing your best and trying your hardest. Giving your best isn’t only about how fast, how hard, or how far you go but also how happy you are doing it. When it comes to fitness goals, if you aren’t having fun or if you’re not enjoying yourself then what’s the point?

All the fun is being had in this picture.

One of the easiest mistakes you can make when working towards a fitness goal is feeling ashamed, discouraged or defeated by where you're at instead of empowered by it. We all have to start somewhere! It doesn’t matter how fast you’re doing it, how long it’s taking, or how far you’re going, it’s the fact that you’re showing up and putting the work in that counts. And sometimes you have to stop to smell the flowers, to take a break and remind yourself why made the goal in the first place.

I may have been trying my hardest when it came to my speed work but there’s a difference between giving something your best and trying your hardest. Your best is all encompassing; it’s both physical and mental. You have to find that balance between both pain and pleasure. You have to remember why you set the goal in the first place. Maybe you are training for your first 5K, half marathon, or marathon or maybe you want to get faster. Results take time and you won’t stick with it unless you are enjoying the journey. Take a minute to celebrate how far you’ve come. Like the cookie said, the best effort you give now puts in the best place for whatever is coming next. Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.

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Kelly Roberts

It all started when a silly joke made headlines back in 2014 when I took selfies with hot guys “hottie hunting” my way through the New York City Half Marathon. But ironically enough, I haven't always been a runner. As the self-proclaimed former President of the "I f*cking hate running club", I spent most of my life finding ways to avoid physical activity. Growing up, I missed over 70 days of PE my senior year. Working out was something I thought I had to suffer through in order to lose weight. 

Then, in 2009, my younger brother passed away unexpectedly and struggling to manage my grief, I gained more than 75 pounds. With the weight gain came a new fight to regain my sense of self and learn to love the body I saw when I looked in the mirror. Then one Thanksgiving morning, drowning in grief and self doubt, I decided to go for a run. I didn't make it half way down my street before I had to stop to walk but for some reason, struggling forward made more sense than getting back into bed. It turns out that running is a lot like grief, neither ever really get easier, you just get stronger. 

Over time, I realized that while some people are in fact born runners, others are made. I created this blog Run, Selfie, Repeat and my new podcast by the same name with the hopes to inspire others to say yes to themselves while making them laugh hysterically because laughing, in my opinion, is the solution to everything. 

Named by Women's Running as one of twenty women who are changing the sport of running and by Competitor Magazine as one of 12 Influential and inspiring runners under 30, my mission is to inspire others to get embrace a healthy lifestyle and pursue the strongest version of themselves possible.