I had an interesting conversation with a new member who is recovering from an injury and has been pushing himself so that he can be ahead of the recovery curve. He had gone a bit too aggressively which resulted in a minor relapse. He then missed almost two weeks of working out.
That got me to thinking about competition and how it is not always a good thing. Don’t get me wrong, we have a very competitive UVAC Swim Team and Masters Swim Program and I love watching them race. But I’m not addressing those of you who are into competitive sports. I’m talking about exercisers who feel the need to compare themselves against the person who is working out next to them. And then feel that they are somehow in a competition. You know who you are if you are on the treadmill at 4 MPH and a person gets on next to you, running at 5MPH, so you increase your speed to 5MPH also. So instead of running your last mile at a good pace for yourself, you gasp for breath and max out at about 2/10’s of a mile. Then you shut the treadmill off and then pretend that your workout is over. I’m a competitive person. I’ve found myself in similar situations. But I have learned that if I try to “compete” with the guy next to me or put the pin in the weight stack the same as the woman who was ahead of me I am asking for trouble.
Comparing yourself with someone else not only can lead to injury, but more commonly it leads to a sense of frustration and discouragement that could prevent you from making yourself healthier and stronger. Just like in the old wild west where there was always a faster gunfighter, there will always be people who are stronger or faster. Use your competitive streak to compete with yourself. Push a little to improve your strength and stamina, but in your own time. There’s no rush.
By Rich Synnott, UVAC Executive Director