Competition with Myself, what’s it worth?


When I decided to begin bike racing half way through the 2008 season, I thought I was going to take the sport by storm, dominate and crush the competition!

…And that is NOT how it turned out!  I quickly got my ass handed to me!  In fact during my first race, I was lapped twice before being pulled out of the race by the official!  After the race, I was so depressed, embarrassed, and de-motivated.  I thought to myself, “How was that possible? I am a brute, and have dominated most of the sports I have competed in!”  It felt like a horrible dream, or rather a nightmare!   And it became very important for me to quickly change my mentality, before I got to the point of giving up and throwing away my bike!

Over time, I began to realize that cycling is so much more than just raw strength.  Amongst other things, it is about the amount of time on the bike (the more you put in, the more you get out), patience, dedication (cycling is a lifestyle), bike handling, efficient peddling, strategy (knowing when to make an effort and when not to), the correct bike fit, and bike fitness.

I also realized that many of the people I ride with, amongst, or against, have been riding for years, in many cases since their teens or 20’s.  Their bodies have developed differently (cardio-vascularly, ability to convert oxygen, and ability to perform under anaerobic stress, etc.).  It is not an “apples-to-apples” comparison when it comes to comparing myself to others.  So, the easiest and quickest way to overcome the need to compare myself to “other” riders was to look within, and at, myself.  Compare myself to myself!

I still catch myself comparing myself to other cyclists sometimes, during or after racing, or even during training.  I beat myself up because I feel that I didn’t perform well, or I wasn’t as fast as I thought I should have been.  When I catch myself doing this, I immediately turn it around and compare the day’s performance against what I have done in the past on the same ride – “How did I do last time?  How did I feel?  Was my power output less or more?  Was my cadence faster?  Where was my heart rate? etc., etc.

The secret lies not with other people, but within me.  If I constantly improve against myself, my hard work and dedication will naturally translate in the “real world,” by allowing me to significantly improve my performance when I’m in competition with other people.

It’s interesting that this coming November I will have been cycling seriously for four years.  And, year after year, the older I get, the stronger I become!  So, comparing and competing against myself is working for me!


I remember when I first entered the corporate world.  I was always comparing myself to other people, particularly co-workers at my level!

I was always worrying about the possibility that my work was not as good as someone else’s.  It forced me to do stupid things, like staying at the office much longer than was necessary if someone was still there after hours, due to the possible perception that that person was more dedicated than me!  Constantly observing what other people were doing, and mirroring other people’s habits, caused so much unnecessary stress and resentment.

The day I realized I was my own person was the day that I freed myself!  It was so liberating and instantly built my confidence.  It substantially decreased my stress and the need to beat the crap out of myself!  Deep down I always knew my work and contributions were of a higher standard.  But, when I was constantly comparing myself to others (in some cases against less talented people) it seriously held me back!

So, comparing myself-to-myself, what’s it worth to me?  It’s worth peace of mind, the ability to relax and feel good about what I am doing, and it frees me from unnecessary stress.  It allows me to hold myself, and only myself, accountable to my goals and the things within my control.

What’s it worth to me?  Turns out, it’s worth a lot!

~ by Jens Wallrabe on August 29, 2011.

4 Responses to “Competition with Myself, what’s it worth?”

  1. I love reading these. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself and for your honesty.

  2. The race people are on is never against the clock or others. It is seldom against one’s self either. The path that most people take usually falls short, somewhere around the face. The real goal line is in the understanding of the race, the path and your place on it. The racer is the race.

  3. Aw shucks. Thanks for sharing.

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