A former roommate set up a “competition jar” for me much like some people have a “swear jar”. Every time I tried to turn an every day thing into a competition, I had to put a quarter in my jar.
I’m a competitive person. But I’ve found ways to use my competitive spirit as a healthy form of motivation and drive. When I have no one to go for a run with, I push myself by constantly trying to catch or keep up with the stranger in front of me on the running path. That’s healthy and effective. But when does competitive working out become unhealthy?
I don’t have the answer. I’m not sure that there is one specific answer that fits all people and all situations, but I do know this: when you feel so competitive with the person working out next to you that you cheat, that you do less reps to finish faster, that’s no longer healthy or motivating and you lose in the long run.
CrossFit, which is self described as “competitive working out”, is what has me thinking about this. Most of the time at CrossFit, unless you are in a competition, you are the only person counting how many reps you complete. It becomes tempting to cut a few off so that you are the fastest athlete or so you aren’t the slowest. And there’s nothing motivating, productive or healthy about cutting yourself short.