Tuesday, April 24, 2012

WHO DO YOU COMPETE AGAINST? A Guest post by KatieRUNSthis


WHO DO YOU COMPETE AGAINST?


Last month, at the Rock N Roll Dallas expo, I was introduced to a company called Compete Every Day.  They make this super cute line of apparel aimed at reminding us to do just that.  At the table, I met this guy named Jake who gave me this super awesome wristband that said COMPETE EVERY DAY on it.  At the time, I didn’t think too much of it, but we chatted for a little bit and then I went on my way at the expo.

It wasn’t until later that night that I was looking at that I started thinking about what COMPETE EVERY DAY really meant to me.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized that concept of “competition” has finally come full circle for me. 

Phase 1 (my first 10 or so races)
My biggest competition:  ME.
Satisfaction Factor:  100%
I remember the first few races I ran.  With each one, I pushed harder and harder to tick away every possible second off of my finish time.  To be honest, the only person I ever noticed in the race was ME.  Race day was about achieving my personal best.  As a result, every time I finished a race, I was pleased because I knew I had given it my best shot.

Phase 2 (the next 20 or so races)
My biggest competition:  People who were OBVIOUSLY not seasoned racers.
Satisfaction Factor:  80%
After I felt I had master certain distances, I started getting an attitude about it.  When I would walk to the start of a race, I started mentally picking out people that I wanted to beat.  The thing was, I wasn’t picking out people that gave me any real sort of “run for my money”.  For example, I would pick out the guy who showed up in jeans.  Odd were, I could beat that guy.  While I did end up beating most of my “mental targets”, I started getting frustrated because it just didn’t seem like enough.  I need something BIGGER!

Phase 3 (the NEXT 15 or so races)
My biggest competition:  The low-hanging fruit*
Satisfaction Factor: 50%
This is where things seemed to start really going downhill.  My next group of “mental targets” were what I perceived as “low-hanging fruit”…little kids, the elderly, and the overweight.  (Look, this is not something I am proud of, but I am just being honest.  This is how I used to think and I can honestly say that I am ashamed of it.)  I would pick out people who I felt I could beat.  And how do you think this worked out for me??  Well, it didn’t.  Most of the time, the “low-hanging fruit” beat me!  It sucked.  However, I quickly learned runner humility and that you can’t judge a runner’s speed or performance by what they look like.  I learned that being more concerned with other peoples’ performances rather than on MY performance was a bad idea.  I got so caught up in trying to pass people that I became this weird, obsessive, pissy runner.  And I didn’t like it.  I wasn’t having any fun anymore.

Phase 4 (every race after that to present)
My biggest competition:  ME.
Satisfaction Factor:  100%
So now I am back to Square One.  now COMPETE EVERY DAY against ME.  I have learned to step back, look at the bigger picture and remember that running is a journey…a personal one…and MY journey is the only one I need to be concerned about.  And you know what, I am enjoying racing again.  I am enjoying the path to fitness again.  Now I compete against the clothes in my closet and my own personal PRs. 

Although the girl in the mirror is still my biggest competition, don’t think I won’t try to out-run you if we meet on the street!

Who is YOUR biggest competition in racing?  Have you ever gotten too caught up in competing that you lost sight of what was important to you?


DubyaWife's Take:  Katie obviously has a very competitive personality.  Honestly, it's something that I lack in my own personality and envy in hers.  I met Katie via Happy's Running Group over a year ago (via Twitter) and we've kept in touch (virtually) ever since.  She is massively involved in the local running world and has a great blog.  Her focus is strong. But can being competitively focused and driven go too far?  I think in Katie's post we realize that it can.  It's important to set goals, to drive to succeed, to be better than we were yesterday, but at what cost?  Should we compare and contrast ourselves to others? Should we set goals for ourselves?  Should we relax and just allow it to happen naturally?  The answer is yes. Yes, to all three.   There are moments in our lives where we need to push ourselves, whether it's trying to compete against another, or against ourselves.  And there are times where we need to take a step back and let go of that competitiveness and allow ourselves to be happy where we're at.  There's no right or wrong way, just identifying those moments and making them happen. Kudos to Katie for being self-aware of it.  Keep on running, Katie!

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