There is something about competitive sports that I really enjoy. Yesterday, while watching the beginning of the ACC championship game, I actually got emotional. (Someone is making a few amazing commercials.) The drive, the determination, the hard work, the absolute strength that those athletes show is absolutely amazing. I still remember a few years ago watching the Boston Celtics play the Miami Heat when Rondo dislocated his elbow. He kept playing and continued to put forth his absolute best, 100%. There is something indescribable about watching an athlete (or anyone else for that matter) give it their all. It warms my heart.
Today during hot yoga, I had a revelation. I finally realized that what I thought was the genuine quality of competitiveness, is actually the flaw of comparison. I made a point to place my mat in the front corner right next to the heat vents. I didn’t want to be distracted by looking at how much better someone else was than me, or how much better I was than someone else. However, when I found myself looking to see if anyone else had a better dancer pose than me, I finally started to see my problem. Then when the instructor said we could come out of camel pose whenever we were ready and my initial thought was I want to be the last one coming out of camel pose, I came to understand that this is a serious problem. Really Tracie? Why are you competing/comparing yourself with the sweaty stranger across the room who you don’t even know? Why are you getting your value from how much better (or worse) you are than someone else? Shouldn’t it be more like you held camel pose for as long as you could today and that’s all that matters?
Over our delicious paleo dinner tonight, I shared my thoughts with Mario. I then came to realize a few more things… I have a fabulous older sister who I love dearly. She is one of my best friends and she is one of the most giving people I know. Growing up, however, I always followed in her footsteps and did all of the same things she did. I took a lot of the same AP/Honors classes, took the same dance classes, was a member of the same dance team, etc. I was pretty decent at all of those things, but I was never as good my sister. I’m 99.9% sure I spent my childhood years comparing myself to her accomplishments. On the flip side, I loved to play basketball, rollerblade, play tennis (or at least act like I could), go hiking, ride my bike, or anything else that required being outdoors. (I have no doubt in my mind that my poor neighbor hated when I called her every single day to come out and play.) I never followed through (as a younger Tracie) with the things that excited me the most and therefore, I don’t think I’ve ever really understood what I do well, other than by comparing myself to others.
I know I’m a good runner but I compare my times with the other local 29 year olds. I know I’m good at yoga (thanks to all those years of dance), but I’m often times too busy comparing myself to someone else to appreciate the fact I’m trying my hardest in that 100 degree room. Whenever I get beside anybody on any cardio machine at the gym, my goal is always to go faster and harder. I get my value by comparison. Not good.
My point is that perhaps I have done well with my running because I want to be near the local fast runners. But if I can just let go of comparing myself to them, maybe I’ll be able to find my best and not my best in comparison to… I need to give it my all and not just enough to be better than someone else. As Mario reminded me tonight – coaches always tell their athletes to give it 100%. It doesn’t matter the outcome. It matters that they give it 100%. Recognize your flaws and improve upon them. I mean isn’t that what Michael Jordan did?
Happy Trails and Happy Running,
Recovery Update: I’m reading Chrissie Wellington’s book and it’s keeping me happy and focused. Hot yoga is helping with that too. 🙂