The One-Man Race: Defeating Your True Competitor

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by JOHN RUSHIN

The One-Man Race: Defeating Your True Competitor

“It is positive to want to go first, provided the intention is to pave the way for others, make their path more easy, help them, or show the way. Competition is negative when we wish to defeat others, to bring them down in order to lift ourselves up.”

–Dalai Lama

I have a confession to make: I hate competitions.

Alright, maybe “hate” is a strong word. My outlook on life is upbeat and I try to view everything through a lens of objective positivity, therefore I do not hate anything. Suffice to say that within myself I’ve cultivated a hearty dislike for competition. I think that sounds better…

If you are the type of person who measures your success in terms of how you place in comparison to the rest of the field, I think you need to take a moment and re-evaluate your reasons to compete. Do not seek motivation for your performance in defeating others or being the best. These are negative notions which are born out of spite and pride rather than of positive sources.

Though I consider myself an avid CrossFitter and endurance athlete, even one who enters quite a few events, I am quite adverse to competition. It is not in my nature to want to compete against others for anything. Call it what you will — I am simply not motivated by trying to outperform others for any reason. I do not find enjoyment in comparing myself to other athletes, nor do I relish in any triumphs I may have over the field. My motivations are not found in feeling superior to others or pushing myself to go harder in order to defeat someone. Winning does feel good, but there is a lot more to it than that; if that is your primary focus, you are missing out on the true spirit of athletics.

Finding the Middle Ground

Finding the Middle Ground
Yes, I realize how odd this sounds coming from someone who has made physical training, coaching, and competing his life’s pursuit. One could even go as far as to say that this goes against our very nature as human beings. It is hardwired into our primal minds that competition — specifically victory in competition — will ensure our survival or at least help us to obtain some level of gratification.

What’s more is that I’m certain I’m not the only one who feels this way. Going into an event the majority of the field most likely has similar feelings. When one is not motivated by striving for first place and conquering all other competitors, they ride a fine line that could easily lead them into something of an apathetic view point towards their performance in the event. These are the individuals that simply show up to participate and as a result do not push themselves in the slightest.

There’s got to be some middle ground here. Something in between the hard charger who wants to satisfy some internal urge by asserting his or her dominance over all the other athletes and the “apathetic athlete” who simply wants that “Participation” medal at the end of the day.

Every time you approach the starting line, every time you’re facing that barbell, every time they are counting down to the start of a WOD, there is no one else present in that moment except for you.
So what is this middle ground and what motivates those who walk it? Why do they enter these events where it is inevitable that they will be competing against hundreds or even thousands of other athletes if their goal is not to dominate? The answer to all of these questions lies within each individual.

Every time I approach the starting line to a race or am preparing to start a WOD there is only one competitor in the field that will be an even match for me. This athlete will truly test me and push me to my mental and physical limits every time. He will be inside my head pushing me along with words of encouragement and positive thoughts while at the same time trying to drag me down because the pain to continue pushing just seems too great. This athlete is the only one that matters to me, the only one that I want to out lift, out run, out swim, or out bike. This athlete is myself.

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