A little anecdote from the Gospel of John about Easter Sunday has got me, a runner, smiling out loud. You remember what happened. John and Peter had gone to the tomb of Jesus -- a tomb the women had reported as empty. John records that he and Peter had a little "race" there and that he had reached the tomb first (John 20:1-10)
When Peter finally arrives, puffing and panting, John has stopped at the entrance while Peter goes straight in. Finally John tells us that "the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside, and he saw and believed." I think it's hilarious that John goes out of his way to tell us not once but twice that he had reached the tomb before Peter had. Never underestimate male competitiveness.I believe there is a competitive streak in every one of us, whether you are a runner or not. If we keep that tendency under control, the competitive push within us can become a great motivating factor in our lives. It can stimulate us to train harder and push ourselves further than we might have otherwise. But there are many other benefits of running that have nothing to do with age group awards, bragging rights, or finish times. I find that when I am in a competitive mood, I sometimes no longer value my weekly runs for their own worth but only how they can prepare me for races. The tendency is to push too hard, and finally you push too far and break down with fatigue or injury. Then you either can't or won't run. When, however, we put competitiveness in perspective, we can gain pleasure and joy from running at any pace, even a slow one.