I suppose anytime one races, it's a competition. There are placings and rankings and we are compared to the others who ran the race with us. However, I have rarely set out to run a race with the intention to beat other people. I race against myself. Although I will admit the joy of having an age-group medal dangling around my neck after a race is very sweet indeed.
There are so many other competitions out there besides running races. Cycling, weight lifting, Crossfit, swimming....endless different sports. Some emphasize beating other competitors way more than others. Over time, it's actually started to bug me. I am not an elite athlete, I don't want to train like one, and I don't want to be expected to perform like one. And I don't want someone to feel pride because they beat me. Frankly, I'm just tired of hearing about how we must be faster or stronger to be considered worthy.
I am only competing against myself.
As I was mulling these thoughts, I logged into Facebook and saw this, posted by Livestrong Austin Marathon:
It seemed pretty timely that the first post in my timeline pretty much echoed the thoughts currently in my head.
When I start a race now, I'm thinking not about the runners around me, or how old they might be so I can make sure I beat them in our age group, or if I can pick them off....although I have definitely thought some of this before....instead, I'm thinking about whether or not I can run a smarter, better race than the last time. Can I strategize better? Can I run better splits? Can I squeak out a personal best? Can I learn something new to take into the next race? Can I overcome my obstacles and continue to believe that I am strong enough to perform well?
When I was contemplating where I wanted to take my personal training certification, I thought about whether or not I wanted to be a bootcamp instructor or a one-on-one trainer. When it came right down to it, one-on-one is definitely more my style. I don't ever want anyone to feel like they need to compete with others, or that if they are falling behind the "stronger" athletes around them that they are failing in some way. I think bootcamps can be great motivators, sure, but I'm not so sure that's where my talent is. Perhaps that will change, or I'll find the right kind of group, but for now I only want to worry about people improving upon themselves.
I think we can certainly use others for motivation. I cherish the time with my running groups because they push me to work harder. I may pace off of sometime who is faster than me to see if I can keep up. But I try to never view it as competition.
Although, I will say, if my cute little 13 year old neighbor tries to pick me off in a race, I will try to return the favor...HA!