The benefits of a little friendly competition

So true. So very true. #GymConfessions via Women's Health Magazine

So true. So very true. #GymConfessions via Women’s Health Magazine

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.

Happy trails.

ecard

13 Comments

  1. Running Betty January 20, 2015 / 8:28 pm

    I agree with this! I like running with people who are faster than me because they push me and help me improve! 🙂

    • Miranda January 21, 2015 / 8:57 am

      Totally agree. In one year of running with the Nike Run Clubs, I increased my average pace from 6:40/km to 5:40/km. A pretty massive improvement I’d say!

  2. Graham Markham January 21, 2015 / 12:24 am

    This is a good post! When I read it I imagined the scene and thought it was funny. You are so driven 🙂 it’s very impressive.

    You’re a good influence on me 🙂

    >

    • Miranda January 21, 2015 / 8:58 am

      Thanks GM. You are a good supporter 🙂 Looking forward to some British runs soon. xo.

  3. WalkToRio January 21, 2015 / 7:34 am

    I keep playing catch with people out in the streets. Sometimes I gotta let go because I would end up dead by the end of the workout, but it;s nice to see how unconsciously we all “race” each other.

    • Miranda January 21, 2015 / 8:59 am

      I’m glad I’m not the only one 🙂

  4. Martha B January 21, 2015 / 12:38 pm

    I totally agree with this. One of the best things I ever did for myself in terms of becoming a stronger runner was to start running with people who I KNOW are more talented and experienced than I am. I have always been open and honest with my training partners – aka – I am slow… run ahead… I will (maybe catch up)… but after awhile you just GET BETTER. Keeping up becomes a thing you really really want to do.
    Also… races… when everyone around me is running fast, I get so excited that I have to as well. It feels more effortless that way, when everyone around you is doing it.
    Good on you for embracing the “competition” instead of feeling intimidated by it 🙂

    • Miranda January 21, 2015 / 1:10 pm

      Thanks so much for your comment! I feel like so many people are intimidated by running with people who are faster or more experienced, but it is a great way to get better, almost without realizing it! I’m now suddenly motivated to find a new running group 🙂

  5. FLRunnerBoy January 21, 2015 / 1:59 pm

    Of course it’s a race ha lol 😛 I count it as a small victory any time I outlast someone on the treadmill 😛

    • Miranda January 21, 2015 / 2:00 pm

      So funny. I do too. I can just picture the mental dialogue: “I won’t stop till you do! I don’t care if I’m tired! I WILL outlast you!!”

  6. Alexandra Modica September 1, 2016 / 4:03 pm

    Hi Miranda – yes, this is (partially) true. A little, healthy competition is a good thing, and it’s the reason I love my track workouts (running in/with a group). However, it’s a two-edged sword. If you try to keep up with runners faster (and stronger) than you, you’ll risk blowing your workout plan, thus missing the benefits of said plan. You also risk burnout and injury. Newbie runners are most at risk because they have not learned how to adjust when their bodies scream STOP. So, while I enjoy a bit of a race with the person next to me on the treadmill I’m also perfectly content to ignore them 100% so that I can stick to my plan and not kill the benefits of a personally tailored training schedule. Happy trails 🙂

    • thoughtsandpavement September 1, 2016 / 5:23 pm

      Yes, you’re absolutely right. It’s all about balance I guess. Good to push yourself sometimes, but not ALL the time 🙂

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