It’s hard to beat a person that never gives up.

– Babe Ruth

I have always thought of competition as a good thing. Growing up, having someone compete with you in a sport, school or just for fun usually made you work harder. If it’s in a sport, you train and practice to overtake whoever is ahead of you. In academics, you are competing for a better college or program. When you compete for fun, it usually is a childhood bet like “Bet I can eat more marshmallows than you,” or “race you to the top of the hill.”

  Now in my 30s, the competition is usually at work. There you compete with a multitude of things: other businesses, time, co-workers, your past successes, etc. But this week has brought back a little bit of the competitive fire from my youth.

Working out on Monday, my lifting partner Joe and I took on the bench press. I’ve made steady gains since the beginning of the year, but after my vacation I have been trying to get back to my original standard. This has forced me to change my routine to overcome a plateau.

So, I sat down and did a few sets finishing with four plus two reps of 275 pounds. Still not back to 4×290, but getting there.

Joe, on the other hand, sat down at the bench and proceeded to put up five plus one reps of 315 pounds. Wow! I need to be hitting harder in the gym.

I left the weight room that evening and proceeded to bowl in our league’s championship. I opened the game with a 237, but quickly fell off from there. Luckily, our final bowler struck in the 10th frame to give us a one pin victory. Wow! I need to practice on the lanes.

Wednesday morning, I played my usual pickup games of basketball. Although I played pretty decent defense, my shot went from deceptively lethal to “Let him shoot, it probably has a 1 in 10 chance of going in.” I took several shots from behind the 3-point line but all shots rimmed out. Wow! I need to get back to practicing my shot.

All these things have made me look at my complacency in these three areas. Although I make sure to work out four or more times a week, I am determined to find the right program to increase all my lifts. With bowling and basketball, I need to incorporate some time to improve.

This is why I have always enjoyed competition. It is a way to test yourself against your peers and see what you are good at or can improve on.

Some people are self-motivators and other people need a push. I think I fall somewhere in the middle. I can only push myself so far, but after watching someone else do it or better, it creates a challenge that I want to complete.

So, here is to those that still compete and avoid complacency.

Zach Stich is the Managing Editor of The Fergus Falls Daily Journal. His column appears Thursday.

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