On Competition

I came across a great blog post on competition by Tommy Hackenbruck of Ute CrossFit in Salt Lake City, UT.  Coming off of our recent competition I am personally fired up to improve myself for the next one, but also just for the next workout – can I do better than my last one?  Can I compete with my own inner-voice that is telling me to stop, to rest for a few more seconds?
I hope you all find this as inspiring as I did.  Find a competition, whether it’s an actual event, a training partner, or within yourself, to keep the fire stoked!
As the weekend approaches and a few of us trainers prepare for a CrossFit competition in Orange County, I want to share with everybody my reflections on why competition is not only an integral part of your development as an athlete, but also as a person.  First of all, we make great efforts at our gym and within our community to keep the CrossFit Games competition in perspective.  It is ONE competition that many of us get excited about, and train for, but it is not the only competition that our members take part in and certainly not the most important.  The most important competition at Ute CrossFit is EVERY competition that is entered by any one of our athletes.  The focus and goal of this gym is to help each person achieve and exceed their fitness goals, and to help create a culture that makes us better in every aspect of life.  We put tons of time and effort creating programs like kids camp and daycare classes so that you can be stronger families, just as we put effort into writing specialized programs so that you can be stronger athletes.  Just as competing in CrossFit Games is an important part of some of our lives, we feel that each and every client needs to find a competitive outlet in some way.  This can be a 5k run, the dirty dash, or simply competing against somebody else’s time on the whiteboard.  Competition builds character, pushes us to do our best, helps us achieve higher goals, and teaches us more about ourselves (good or bad) than we could learn otherwise.  In order to grow as a person or athlete, you need to compete at some level.  It is healthy, it is what you were made to do.
A ship in harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”  ~William Shedd
We understand that each person is different, and some of you may even claim, “I don’t like beating other people, I would rather them do well.”  (That’s a direct quote from my wonderful sister Jenny).  If you feel bad beating somebody, or claim you don’t like competing, you just need to change your perspective.  Competing doesn’t mean you want to see others fail.  When you work extremely hard in a workout, or on your mountain bike, and you barely beat the person next to you, chances are both of you are better because of it.  If you didn’t give your best effort, the other person wouldn’t have worked as hard to try to keep up with you.  Now the person next to you on the mountain bike isn’t mad because you beat them, they are happily thinking “wow, that was the hardest and fastest I’ve every ridden on my bike!”  By giving your best efforts, both people benefit.  We strongly believe that good healthy competition, with the right mindset and perspective, will always leave us better than if we had sat on the sidelines.  It not only teaches us to push a little harder, give a little extra effort, but it pushes those next to us (our teammates), inspires those watching us (our kids), and rewards those pulling for us (our coaches and friends).
Adversity causes some men to break, others to break records.”  ~William A. Ward
If you are a member at Ute CrossFit then you better have goals.  Hopefully those goals are achievable, measurable, and you have a timeline to accomplish them.  By competing daily, with yourself or with others, you will get closer to those goals.  As a Football Player at the University of Utah we had signs in the locker room that read: “compete every day”.  When we lifted we were paired with other guys that were the same strength as us, so we would compete to be stronger than them.  In warm-up and conditioning drills we were lined up with the other guys at our position so we could race them in every single drill.  By giving our best effort on EVERY SINGLE DRILL we grew and progressed into elite athletes.  Without the daily competition our progress would have slowed or stagnated.  Because of the competition, the fastest guy on the team constantly had someone right behind him about to catch him.  He gave his best effort to stay ahead.  On that same token the second fastest guy on the team was motivated each and every day to take over the top spot, his goal was to be the fastest.  Goals keep things in perspective, they remind us why we work hard, what’s important to us, and also let us know when we are making progress toward achieving success.
So remember to compete.  Compete with yourself and beat your old PR, compete with a friend and make each other better, or sign up for a race or an event and start training with a little more fire and a little more purpose.  Do it for yourself, you will be better for it!
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”  ~Theodore Roosevelt

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