Friday, July 23, 2010

A little friendly competition

On the first night of my Running Room Learn to Run clinic, I met my Sole Mate. We fell into pace during the first run and have stuck together ever since. We’re both running newbies. We're the same age. We get along, but don't know much about each other outside of running. She is a perfect training partner for me. We are so in sync that our RR instructor thought we knew each other before the clinic.

During our last day of Learn to Run, the instructor pulled us aside for a little chat about our first 5K race on Saturday. She told us to get our game faces on because during tomorrow's race Sole Mate and I are direct competition.

We hadn't thought of that. It never crossed our minds. When visualizing the finish line, I imagined crossing it with Sole Mate; one of those hand-holding, high-fiving joint victory moments. But one of us will have to finish before the other. There's no avoiding it.

This is my first race and I plan to finish in 30 minutes. I'm certainly not in it to win it, but I am competitive. It's one of my greatest strengths. My competitive nature motivates and drives me: to get the best grades; to do the best job; to do one more agonizing push up. I constantly try to one-up myself. My competitive nature is also a weakness. I am my own worst critic and expect perfection of myself. I also rarely take the time to acknowledge accomplishments because I'm already focused on the next goal (case in point – I’ve already signed up for Running Room’s 10K clinic).

The more I thought about it, the less comfortable I was considering Sole Mate “the competition.” Perhaps I can simply shut of my competitive nature for one race. This race is about celebrating; celebrating a new found friend and being stronger than I was before the accident. Instead of obsessing over beating other runners, I’m focusing on running a good race and attaining my time goal.

Regardless of who crosses the finish line first, I plan to give Sole Mate a big hug and marvel at how far we’ve come over the past 10 weeks. In the next race we may be each other’s competition, but tomorrow is just like every other time we hit the pavement.

SOTS wonders... what happens when your training partner becomes “the competition”? Is it possible to and should you try to turn off your competitive nature during a race?


  1. I honestly think that is the weirdest thing ever for a RR coach to do. As a RR instructor myself, I'd never tell my participants that they're competing against one another. I always tell them they're only competing against themselves and that every race completed is a personal best. But then again, I'm all fluffy kittens and rainbows.

    I can't believe someone would do that in a LTR, a clinic all about getting to the finish line upright and smiling.

  2. Marie - I hear what you're saying about the focus of the race. I do want to defend my instructor though. She's wonderful and has been nothing but encouraging through this entire process. When talking to the group she emphasized finishing upright and smiling.

    It was in a private conversation with Sole Mate and I that she pointed out that we're direct competition. I believe she did this because she recognized that the two of us are naturally competitive and didn't want us to make the realization on our on during the race.

    Tomorrow I'm adopting your "fluffy kittens and rainbows" attitude.

  3. In university, one of my Sole Mates was my competition. It was weird because I thought it would bother me a lot more than it really did. She and I are both competitive, but I would say that she's a different type of competitive (and I didn't realize this until after our first race.) She was faster on a consistent basis, and always finished ahead of me. In training we ran together, always. But in competitions, it seemed as though success for her meant being the fastest out of our little group of racers. On the other hand, I like to compete, but with myself. If I place well, then that's great. But I've found that competing with myself and my own personal best times is a lot more rewarding.

    Good luck with your race this weekend - you'll rock it!!! :)

  4. eatspinrunrepeat - I love your attitude! I'm definitely going to adopt it. Thanks for the well wishes. I'll update you on Monday and let you know how it goes.