Being competitive gets a bad reputation. But sometimes, a little healthy competition is a good thing.
Take this week for example. There’s been a lot of treadmill running, despite the fact that I just warned you to stay away from the treadmill in January. Usually, I put on some music, read the news headlines and space out. Usually, I don’t pay any attention to anyone around me. I find it therapeutic.
But lately, the gym has been packed. And there’s always a runner on either side of me no matter what time I’m at the gym. I try not to see what speeds the people next to me are running, but I can’t help myself. This week, there was a guy on one side and a girl on the other side of me absolutely sprinting. Not only were they eclipsing my pace in a massive way, it was like they weren’t even trying! Apparently, this was a casual jaunt. They weren’t even sweating or open-mouth breathing. What. The. Hell?!
I tried not to care. I tried to stick to my run. I reminded myself, “You have nothing to prove. You ran a marathon, remember?” But I couldn’t get over it. Next to these two, I basically looked like I was walking.
Not to be outdone, I increased the pace. Nowhere near these two sprinters, but a pace that looked a little more respectable in between two seemingly elite athletes.
At the end of 7K, I was exhausted. Absolutely depleted. Covered in sweat. Basically wheezing. Totally and utterly beat.
Was this good? I think so. These two super humans forced me to try harder. As a result, I burned more calories and had a better workout than if I stuck to my original plan.
This was one of the reasons I always enjoyed running with the Nike Run Clubs in Toronto. Most of the runners were better than me so it motivated me to try harder. It’s good to have that competitive drive that pushes you outside your comfort zone. That’s how you get better. Sure, I could loaf along on the treadmill every day, but it wouldn’t make me a better runner.
As long as your competitive drive doesn’t spiral into aggression or jealousy, it can be a good thing. Studies consistently show that healthy competition can provide motivation to work hard and achieve goals – in life, in business and in fitness.
So if you’re on the treadmill next to me, the answer is yes, we ARE racing.