This summer I attended a mountain bike race that my nephew was in. I watched as hundreds of bikers did battle with the trail, mixing mud with blood. One of my sons ran this year’s Twin Cities Marathon. We waited along the route for a glimpse of him at mile 21. As we waited, people ran by with pleading looks of pain, knowing that relief was still six miles away.

There is only one question I have when I am a witness to these acts of competition. “Why?”

I have come to see that I am pathologically non-competitive. I see nothing wrong with competition. I personally don’t see a need for much of it.

My wife is a BIG Vikings fan. I am a big fan of hers, so I watch games with her, not much caring who wins. The goal of every team is to get to the Superbowl. Whether they get there or not, it all starts over again at the beginning of the next season. The only games I truly enjoyed going to, were ones where my kids were playing. I’m not saying that competition is meaningless I’m only saying that it doesn’t motivate me…or so I thought.

Last year several people I know participated in a 5k run on Thanksgiving. Thousands of people were there, and the goal was to have fun without the worry of who won. We all could be winners. The spirit of festive non-competitiveness hung in the air.

I decided that that was an event I could support. It fit within my philosophy. I started training for the run, realizing that I may have let myself get a little too out of shape. So far I am progressing.

However, I have realized that I am in competition. I am competing with inner voices. They continues to whisper in my ear about how I need to stop, how I can wait until next year, how my back is bothering me, and a myriad of other complaints, both somatic and psychological. There is a fierce competition going on inside me on a daily basis to keep moving forward.

I have discovered that this is a competition I want to win. I want to be able to say “I did it.” So maybe I see value in competition.I guess I’m growing. I acknowledge that I am not a fierce competitor, but I am engaged.

I don’t plan on going overboard. I do have standards. One is that I would rather break a sweat than break skin. And I would rather fight myself than fight you.

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