Thrill of the chase: When you beat the competition, what’s next?
Last week I was running along my regular route. As with any activity, there are good days, and there are bad. This particular run was a good one. The weather was perfect—sunshine coupled with 15 degree temps, a pain-free ankle, a comfortable pace, and steady breathing. I was having so much fun. Until SHE came along.
SHE was this lady—about my height and build—who brushed past me just as I finished sipping water from a drinking fountain. Dressed in all black, she ran about two meters ahead of me. Her long ponytail gracefully swished from side to side, its long black strands shinier than her running tights. Her footfalls were quick and even, and it seemed we were running about the same cadence. But I wasn’t sure, so what else was there to do but time my steps with hers, to see if we’d match. Or if I could go faster. Or if I could make her eat my dust.
And so my competitive ego reared its ugly head and got the better of me. When I settled on our pace, I forgot about the glorious rays of the sun and how rare they are during this time of the year. I disregarded the crisp, clean air blowing against my face. Never mind that my ankle was painless—isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be anyway? My breathing shifted from steady and smooth to ragged and labored. And then it dawned on me: I was no longer having fun. And why? Because I wanted to prove that I could run faster than this chick?
When our efforts shift from wanting to be our best selves to striving to be better than others, the enjoyment flies out the window and we’re left with constantly trying to beat someone else. When that person is beaten, there will be someone else to try and topple over. And it’s not fun. Not for me, at least. So instead of trying to shift gears and zoom past her, I went back to the pace I began with.
Minutes later, she abruptly stopped, propped her leg on the base of a lamp post and proceeded to stretch. I caught a glimpse of her; she looked like a younger version of me. Flushed and breathless, it seemed that she too had embarked on a race against me. I ran past her and was glad the race was over. It ended, not when she stopped running, but when I realized that I had nothing to prove.