Healthy Competition: Learning to Outdo Yourself
Beating your own time and effort to finish the race
Spring marathon season is upon us and runners are in the final stages of their training. The weekly running schedule is down to a science, the race day plan is in place, and the right gear is ready to meet the starting line. It’s safe to say the winner of any marathon will not be a beginner. It will be someone who’s run the race before and is trying to beat his or her own time or place in their previous race. While healthy competition can involve other people, the truth is, the healthiest competition is that which pushes you to continually outdo yourself.
Pick Up the Pace
Despite the similar commitment, conditioning and willpower to run the race, a study of ultramarathoners who ran a 50-mile trail run found an important difference between those who finished the race and those who did not. They ran faster per mile. While many people check the scale every week, fewer assess their physical conditioning consistently. Assessing how you’re improving in the way of activity could be a new way to celebrate your healthier lifestyle and keep you from getting bored. Track your minutes per mile, or the number of reps you can do at a certain weight. Set a goal to build on where you started so you avoid burnout and get better results you can see, feel, and quantify.
Rest and Recovery
As important as improving your time and distance is in training for a marathon, recovery is equally as important. There are two ways to enjoy recovery days. In addition to enjoying at least one day of rest each week, some change the intensity and length of their workouts to improve their fitness. If you do sprints or any vigorous exercise, you should have a shorter workout and take more breaks than if you were cruising on an elliptical. If you go for an easy hike, you can stand to exercise for a longer period of time than you usually would. Periodically, try adding new and different types of physical activity so that you challenge your body in different ways. This will help your body recover better in the long run, no matter what activity you do.
While some have specific times they aim for, others have one goal in mind when they sign up for a marathon – just finish. There is something about passing the finish line that gives people a sense of accomplishment. This is the general way that many people look at weight loss. They have a goal of 20, 30, or 80 pounds and regardless of how long it will take them, they want the pounds gone. A way to challenge yourself to reach such a broad goal is to set a goal date. Likened to a race date, a goal date will keep you honest and keep you motivated to stay the course. If your weight loss isn’t lining up with your goal date, there’s always an opportunity to reschedule. Even in having to set a second goal date, your more experienced self is better prepared to finish the race.
Do you know anyone who got married a few months after meeting someone? Many weight loss hopefuls are likened to these newlyweds. They’ve made a lifelong commitment to something that carries challenges that may not be as obvious on their wedding day as if they’d been in a relationship for a long time. This is when it’s time to dig deep. In spite of unforeseen challenges in losing weight, be they financial in paying for a trainer or buying more expensive food, or schedule-wise i.e. sacrificing social time to plan meals or workout, don’t question if your rash decision to lose weight is worthwhile, instead consider that you’ve made a commitment. It’s easy to say, I made a mistake, but it’s harder to admit that mistakes are always waiting to be made whether you keep your commitment or not.
How do you try to one-up your previous successes?