We have gotten to the time of the year where many of us are looking at the next season of competition. For some this means signing up for races, dialing in workouts, nailing that FTP test, or cleaning up our nutrition. However you want to put it - we are all turning our sights on what 2018 has in store for us.
Too often, we can get caught up in worrying about what others are doing, training, eating, riding, etc. They are our competition after all, we need to know what advantages they may have that we too can harness, but what if I told you there is more than just one form of competition - and perhaps the most important form is the more subtle of the two.
Some of you have guessed that I am talking about external and internal competition.
But what does all this mean?
This is competition that is on most everyone’s mind. It pushes us to beat that individual in our AG, or best them at the local group run. This type of behavior can focus you more on the splits from the last race your rival(s) posted that you can lose focus on your own training.
While there is undoubtedly a healthy aspect to having a competitive drive, and it can fuel the path for performance improvement, it can also be a debilitating driver. With the advent of social media, and the athletic related social media sites (i.e. Strava, Garmin Connect, Athlinks, etc) it is easier than ever to stalk (or ‘research’ as some like to call it) your local and non-local competitors- which can hinder as much as it might seem to help.
For me personally, I am not a fan of Strava and here is why - quite frankly, I don’t care what others are doing - what training protocols they follow, what KOMs they went after and posted, and other extraneous bullshit they decided to post on that particular day. What works for them may not work for me - individualized coaching is just that - it is about the individual and not a one size fits all plan. We are a part of Evolve because we are looking for guidance in our athletic endeavors, whatever they may be, and as such, we are being analyzed workout to workout so our respective coach can map out the rest of the course. One workout does not make or break our season - it is about the day in and day out, and posting how great one workout was to try to up your competition is just a distraction from the real goal.
Here is my confession - I used to post a lot of snapshots of my workouts that I absolutely crushed. I was THAT guy. But truth be told, I was in perhaps worse shape (physically and mentally) from those big training days (Note: no matter how smart you think you are, it is impossible to be objective and coach yourself). Why you ask? Because what wasn’t shown was the population of missed workouts that occurred 2-3x weekly. I was merely showing the highlight reel of my training, and when race day would come others would often make comments on how I train too much, or train better than I race. It was true to an extent.
There was a mindset that changed for me (which will come in a later blog post) and part of that was focusing on internal competition. Once I made that my focus, the gains started to come and ultimately I was happier than ever to train and race.
This is the competition that you have with your biggest competitor of all - yourself. Think of how many times you have gotten into a workout or a race and you are internally beating yourself up or essentially talking shit to yourself. I have been racing for about 6 years now and can honestly say I have never heard the type of shit talking that I do to myself come from a fellow competitor. This doesn’t necessarily need to happen in a race setting, this can also happen during a tough training session, or a session that you quite frankly would rather go eat a burger and have a beer then complete. The biggest driver that should push you day to day is yourself. It doesn’t matter if you are a front of the pack, Elite AG athlete, middle of the pack or back of the pack athlete, or if you are just looking to finish - you can push yourself to new levels. For me personally, I wake up and tell myself to simply, “compete everyday”. This applies to my athletic life, as well as my professional and personal life. You have a choice to wake up everyday and be stagnant, or move forward and work to improve on yesterday.
Of course you will have days where you are tired, stressed, or just plain over it. It is going to happen….not if, but when. Think of some internal drivers that will give you that extra boost. This can be a picture of you from your first race, a picture of the finish line for the first Ironman you are training for, or hell a picture of a piece of pizza for all that matters. If you know how to talk shit to yourself, then you also know how to motivate yourself!
So what does all of this mean - simply put, go out and grab life by the f’ing horns and get after it - but do it for YOURSELF first and foremost. Whether it is a tough hill workout, knocking out a strength work session, or completing a damn TPS report at work go out and Battle. Every. Motherf’ing. Day - and if you can beat yourself each day, then you will also up the competition come race day.