that annoying competitive drive

I experienced something interesting this morning when I was doing a triathlon swim workout. 

In the lane next to me is a woman who’s been attending these same workouts with me for the past five or six months.  We’re similar in pace, although I’m reasonably sure that’s because she’s gotten a bit faster in recent months.  She’s very nice, is ramping to her first tri, and has recently completed her first half marathon.

So we were doing some work included 3 sets of 450 yds divided like this : 100 (sendoff interval 2 min, final 25 fast), 150 (sendoff interval 3 min, final 25 fast), 200 (final 50 fast), with some rest in between.

This is a pretty good workout, and ordinarily I wouldn’t think of it as that challenging.  I like growing the intervals and regulating (even shrinking) the sendoff times, because this is how you increase stamina.

But – I noticed that Shannon (think that’s her name) was going just a bit faster than me in the first set.  Usually I’d catch up and edge her out in the fast portion of each repeat.  In the second set, she was pulling ahead enough that I couldn’t close the gap.  By the third, she was well ahead.

Man it bugged me.  Which is dumb – because – hey – Good For Her!  She’s worked hard to get faster, and it’s showing!  Also – it’s just a workout.  Also, my body is still recovering from the marathon on Sunday.  I’ve run a couple of times, but don’t have any pickup at all.  It’ll take some time to bounce back.

So – why does this bother me?  It’s totally irrational.

I think this illustrates some innate thing in me, and probably other people too.  We tend to measure ourselves against time goals, or against others, and it’s hard to maintain a sense of perspective.  I felt the same way when one of my running friends blew past me going up a hill on a long training run.  Typically I’m faster, but that day he simply had more reserve.  Good For Him!

The thing I had to work on this morning in the pool wasn’t my form or my stamina.  It was my attitude.  This morning’s workout was all about perspective.  There’s nothing wrong with measuring yourself against others, but the last thing you want to do is to have that take the fun out of it.

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