We often say that you’re only competing against yourself, as if it’s fine to be competitive with your past self and sometimes problematic to care about beating others. But maybe we should be kinder to ourselves as we age. It’s not PRs forever. As we age we can’t beat 30 year old or even 40 year old versions of ourselves as athletes.
We have written quite a bit on the blog about competition (see Tracy’s The Competitive Feminist) and the idea that in endurance and lifting sports you don’t have to view others as your competition. Instead, you can aim to get better, to achieve a PR, and to be better than the athlete you were yesterday. In this way competition is about self improvement, not about besting others. You’re your own competition. And that sounds lovely. It can make racing fun even for people who don’t think of themselves as competitive. I identified my past self as my competition in the fittest by fifty challenge. You see this idea reflected in the slogans below.
But there are at least two problems with this idea that you’re your own competition, lovely as it is.
First, this isn’t true for all sports. While some sports consist in individual effort and you…
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