Tuesday, March 6, 2012
The word "competition" can conjure up images of stress, opposition, and fear, but competing doesn't necessarily have to be against an intimidating opponent. I have found that competing against yourself is an effective way to progress when it comes to improving your fitness. You could try to run the 800 meters against Usain Bolt, but that would only make you feel like a slow failure. If however, you monitored and kept records of your personal best efforts, you can compete against yourself. This way you can feel like a champion whenever you make improvements.
Since I was a teenager, I have kept stats on my height, weight, measurements, how fast I can run, how many push ups I can do, etc. For years I watched my stats slowly decline as I aged. About 12 years ago, I got fed up with watching my conditioning slowly deteriorate so I pulled out my chart and went to work. I'm 43 now and within the last year I've set personal bests in nearly half of the 20 categories I have kept track of and even started dunking in basketball games again after not being able to do so for over 4 years.
If you don't know what your personal best time is for running a mile or a 5K, or how many push ups you can do, then I challenge you to get back in the game and see what you are capable of. Keep records of your personal bests if you don't already do so. You don't need to compete or feel intimidated by the people who run 5 minute miles at a race you may be running. Just compete against yourself instead and constantly strive for improvement.
I'm not saying you need to be super competitive and try to set a new personal record every time you exercise. There should still be times when you just go out for a run because you enjoy it or you do some other physical activity you love, but competing against yourself is a great way to keep you moving forward and keep you from getting discouraged in a very competitive world.