Thursday, September 19, 2013

I Like Competition

Let me just say it..."I like competition."

I feel better already.

I'm a competitive guy. When I'm in a race, I run better when there is competition that I know (or pretend to know). I like to beat other runners. I especially like to beat other runners I know. If they are friends, even better! I relish that extra drive. It motivates me to perform better. At my last race, Evergreen Lake 32 Miler, I had no reason to push through the hard times. I dragged the last 10 miles. It felt terrible. If I had a competitive partner (besides my Garmin "virtual partner"), I would have still hurt, but I would have pushed hard. I would have given it my all, hopefully defeated my competition, and been proud of my effort. Even if I lost, I'd still have felt good about competing.

For some reason, we seem to cast a negative tone on the idea of competition. We are told to embrace the experience and enjoy the process. Sure, that's fine, but what about PERFORMING well? That means fast times and high finish places. I'd rather be top 10% than middle 50%. I'd rather finish a 50K in 5 hours than 6 hours. Believe me, it'll be more enjoyable! I doubt I'll ever win a race outright, but I can beat "similar-level competition." That's WHY we race. If you simply want to "enjoy" the running experience, then don't sign up for a RACE. Just run. Nothing wrong with that...but don't sign up for a RACE.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy running on it's own merits too. And I love competing against myself and the "course." Why else would I keep trying 100 mile races until I finally broke the sub-24 barrier?  I wanted to prove it to myself. I wasn't out to beat anyone in particular. I was competing against the distance and the clock. And, I finally won at Umstead 100 this year! (Yes, 23:56 counts as under 24 hours.)

So, Pat, I'm coming for you at Farmdale 30 miler. Eddie, I'm coming for you at McNotAgain 30 miler. And Kevin, I'm always looking for an opportunity to take you down--if possible, at both Farmdale and McNotAgain!

Happy running...and competing!

2 comments:

David said...

(puts down the microphone and storms out of the WWE ring)

I'm with you on the competition thing. I've certainly never run a route faster in training than what I've done in a race. There's probably an evolutionary aspect to this - like if we let our competition ahead of us, they'll kill the antelope and we'll go hungry?

Competition is certainly fun and motivating, and probably healthy for us so long as it doesn't lead to training mistakes (e.g. I'm sore but I really need to get this interval session in).

Happy hunting!

Chris said...

David,

I agree. Need to keep things balanced, but an occasional tough race against competitors/friends is always a nice incentive to run harder and train harder.