Have you ever watched greyhounds race? They chase a “lure” – basically, a fake rabbit – around a track. If you have watched it, have you noticed that the dogs are totally focused on the lure? They are not looking over their shoulder, trying to see if another dog is nipping at their heels, they are chasing that furry fake rabbit on a stick around the track, trying like hell to catch it. They could care less about the other dogs. Fuck ’em. I want that rabbit so I can rip it’s head off (this is what I imagine them saying, if they could talk). I know it’s a little graphic but it’s the truth.
Disclaimer: I do not condone or endorse dog racing. I am simply using it as an example here of “the chase”. If you want to have an argument with me about the political-correctness of dog racing, I’m not down for it. If you want to argue the validity of anything else I have said here, go big, it’s just my opinion and we all know what that’s worth!
How many times during the Open did you look at the leaderboard and see who was behind you? And then strategize on how you could stay ahead of that person? Your thinking probably went something like “Shit, Joe (or Josephine – your choice) just posted a time of 15:23 for 16.5 – I need to stay ahead of him/her so I need to run right around 15:00 even. Fuck me, I’m screwed.” If you were constantly looking behind you, you probably did the workout multiple times as well, just to make sure you stayed a little ahead of Joe. I think (yes, take this with a grain of salt…it’s only my opinion) that one reason this happens has to do with our confidence in our abilities as athletes. You find someone who you deem your equal, and you do just enough to stay slightly ahead of that person. Just enough to be “better”. If that’s all you want out of it, then you have accomplished your goal and I am seriously happy for you. You should be too.
But if you are still reading, you are one of those people who watched the leaderboard like a cat watching a gopher hole. Literally. For hours. Just sitting there, constantly refreshing, waiting for Joe’s score to “pop up” so you knew if you needed to redo or not. For you, I have a different piece of advice. Find a rabbit. Look AHEAD. Look 10 spots up the leaderboard and see who is there. Chase them. Use them for inspiration. Want to be like them (unless you know them personally and they are an absolute asshole. Then just focus on wanting to rip their head off). Focus all your energy on looking ahead. Ignore the footsteps behind you. If your goal is to be better, then you need to do MORE, not JUST ENOUGH. Constantly looking over your shoulder says “I’m not quite good enough to be up there (10 spots ahead) but I CAN beat that guy/girl (just below me). Have some confidence in your abilities. Looking at the guy/girl 10 spots ahead of you says “I know I might not catch you but I’m going to try like hell so numbers 2 through 9, get the fuck out of my way“. I’m pretty sure you know which guy or girl is probably going to end up with a better score. Or at least a better self-image.
Sometimes, there is no rabbit (or maybe it’s just not your thing – that’s OK). It’s just you. At that point, you need to focus on chasing yourself. Chase the you of a year ago, or chase the version of you that you want to be. Sometimes you are going to catch the rabbit (if you do, please be gentle, I really do like bunnies) and sometimes you are not. Learn to be OK with the times you don’t. This is not tiny tots soccer. Not everyone gets a trophy. And that’s why as a grown-up, you like it. There are winners and there are losers here. The funny thing is that even when you lose, you learn. And learning is how you get better. And getting better is how you win. So yeah, I pretty much just said that everyone gets a trophy. It’s just that some are furrier than others (and might be missing a head).
P.S. Anytime you have to start a post with a disclaimer, someone is going to hate you. So, I am apologizing to anyone who read the whole thing, including the disclaimer and still hates me. I don’t really care. I’m too busy looking at the haters 10 spots ahead of you.