The Competitive Edge

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I don’t have it. I know I should, I’m a pretty good runner who has had some success in races, but I don’t. I’ve been in races where I’ve allowed people behind me to pass, giving up even a potential podium spot. And yet I’ve still had a considerable amount of success as a racer. Now that I have considerable experience racing at pretty much every ultra distance I have taken the time to look back and do some self-evaluation. I’ve come to a solid conclusion about the type of competitor I am. And through this process have discovered that there are likely three different kinds of people who toe the line in any given race.

  1. The Non-Competitive Racer – these folks are simply there to have fun, make new friends, and cross the finish line. If you ask what their goal is in the race it’s always the same; ‘to finish’. They train at a level that’s comfortable and race in an equal manner. The great thing about this kind of racer is that they are never disappointed in the outcome.
  2. The Personal Competitor – these folks are goal setters. They are meticulous, smart, and focused. However, their focus isn’t on the podium, their goal not to win. Instead, they go after a time and effort that is often right at or possibly beyond their limit. For them it isn’t good enough to just ‘finish’, they want to do it well and know they gave their all. They train to be better every day and race to reflect that. Disappoint can be a hazard, but often isn’t because they value the fight more than the result.
  3. The Ultra-Competitive Ultra-Racer – these are the rare few who have eyes for nothing but the podium. They go out like lightning and often crash and burn just as quick. They train and race at their limit with no forethought or plan. Often, if they know they don’t have a chance to take it all they will bow out, citing an excuse to justify their own hidden disappointment. They frequently taste success, but just as often defeat. They are the all or nothing crew.

So there you have it. I’ve given this a lot of thought and likely I’m only partially correct. But I think I’ve pretty much nailed down every type of racer I’ve encountered. And as for myself, well, I’ll let you decide. I know where I stand and I’m comfortable there. Time to go out and push myself to my limit.

Racing at the Red Mountain 50k in 2012

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Author: Craig Lloyd

See more of Craig's work at Refuse2Quit.com

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3 Comments

  1. A person might fit one of these profiles in general for most of their races. Though sometimes a person might chose a different goal for different race. I was a Non-Competitive Racer for my first 50k and then did a trail marathon as The Personal Competitor.

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  2. As a relative newby to trail running, this is very helpful…thanks!

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  3. Mike, I think it is possible for people to bounce between all three at different times in their career, although it is more likely they’ll go between one and two than spending any real time in three. Glad we could help Michele.

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