Loving Last Place – Inspiration Friday

Last PlacePeople who aren’t involved in athletics/fitness/movement/sports, or those who are involved but need to think that they are somehow “better” than someone to feel ok about themselves, can have a fundamental misunderstanding of what it’s like for those of us for whom it’s about a personal journey and not a need to compare ourselves with others.

This can lead to things like people’s being completely flabbergasted that I’m proud of an almost 13 hour marathon time, as well as all manner of dumb-assery. For example, yesterday I received a tweet @RobinWilson73

Following Fran


Fran is a cancer survivor who has run over 75 marathons and was running the Boston Marathon as part of a group doing fundraising for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in honor of her husband Stan who has cancer for the third time. Rock on Fran.

So I tweeted back:

Following Fran Response

Let’s start here:  Other people’s journeys and accomplishments, in particular those who live with health issues and/or disabilities, do not exist for the inspiration of others, and it’s important not to engage in inspiration porn.

Some troll using Fran’s achievements in a sad failed attempt to shame a fat person doesn’t cheapen her accomplishments (or mine.) It just shows how pathetic he is, and it gives me perfect illustration of what not to do, as well as the opportunity to extol the virtues of last place, and to talk about the folly of comparison

I’ve played lots of sports in my life and I know what it feels like to have my/the team’s best be enough to win, to get first place.  Thanks to this foray into endurance sports, I now also know what it’s like to do my best and lose – where lose means being the absolute slowest out of thousands and thousands of people and/or not finishing at all (and please don’t do the “you’re lapping everyone on the couch” thing because I’m not and that whole concept is super messed up.)

In my naive and ignorant youth I thought that it was the winning that was the accomplishment, being better than someone else. I thought that my accomplishments were only frame-able or valuable as they compared to how other people did.

But when I look back I realize that, even then, I knew that wasn’t true. I knew that I felt more joy, more pride, in my accomplishments when I did my best but lost, than when I played or danced like crap but still won. I knew that the practice was where most of the lessons were learned – not in the competitions. I felt as much pride finishing that marathon as I did winning any sport or dance event previously.

There’s nothing wrong with competing against those who want to compete with you, there’s nothing wrong with comparing your skills/abilities/performance to others (though there is definitely something wrong with putting others down in the process.) But it’s not necessary – there’s nothing wrong with being on a personal journey, with not comparing yourself with others.  There’s also nothing wrong with not challenging yourself athletically and choosing to do what’s easy and fun, or not being involved in fitness/sports/movement at all. Nobody is obligated to be involved in fitness, but everybody should be welcome, and nobody should be mocked for their efforts, or have their efforts used to mock someone else.

So if, like me, you’re a back of the packer, a last placer, if you’re being mocked by people who aren’t worthy to tie your shoelaces, I say rock on you magnificent slow poke, there’s no shame in our slow game.

And if you haven’t seen this video from Nike, you may find it a lovely addition to your stash of inspirational stuff!


Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff!

IRONMAN Sale:  I’m having an ongoing sale on my books,  DVDs and downloads to help pay for my IM – you get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! To check it out, you can go to https://ironfatblog.wordpress.com/support-my-ironman/ No money?  No problem!  If you feel like it, you can leave a comment or send me an e-mail (ragen@ironfat.com) saying something encouraging, that’s incredibly helpful as well!

If you have questions about my IRONMAN journey  the FAQ might help!

If you’re looking for a place to talk about fitness from a weight neutral perspective, check out the Fit Fatties Forum. and the Fit Fatties Facebook page.

Book Me!  I’m a professional speaker and I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!




About danceswithfat

Hi, I’m Ragen Chastain. Speaker, Writer, Dancer, Choreographer, Marathoner, Soon to be IRONMAN, Activist, Fat Person.
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4 Responses to Loving Last Place – Inspiration Friday

  1. Angela says:

    THIS. Rock on, Ragen!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I rock climb, and I’m reading this book called The Rock Warrior’s Guide–which sounds like it’s a foray into macho silliness, when it’s exactly the opposite. It discusses the dangers of ego. Ego tries to slip into everything we do, especially when it comes to comparing ourselves with others or using our sport to feel better than those who don’t do our sport. It’s a total trap, and in the end, you wind up just as messed up when your performance compares favorably to someone else’s as when it compares unfavorably, because you’re still basing your self worth on your performance. That’s a pretty meager thing to depend upon, and it’s wholly external. In contrast, what we learn about ourselves and how we grow while doing our sport is so much more important and can be used to stoke the fires of self-worth–while still leaving other people entirely out of the picture to do whatever they wish, or don’t wish. So thank you for yet another reminder of the dangers of ego, a battle against which I wish Robin Wilson better luck, because he (or she) appears currently to be losing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Two of my races where I finished dead last are two of my most proud. One where I stopped during a triathlon to help a girl who had fallen and hit her head on the bike portion and just recently I helped support a friend who was hit by a drunk driver (the accident crushed every bone in his leg) cross over the finish line of a half marathon. I don’t care what place I came in, those were real accomplishments!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. lsstrout says:

    So by this person’s logic, we should only do things where we come out ahead? How much of life would we miss out in then?


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