“OMG! What is that girl thinking wearing those shorts?”
“Who does she think she is lining up that far in front?”
Let’s face it. Get a bunch of competitive Type-A chicks all on one starting line and there’s bound to be some cattiness. But does it have to be that way?
My name is Salty and I admit I am competitive and sometimes that competitiveness has crossed over into catty-land. Here’s an example. Pepper and I once had a falling out over a race. Up until that race I always finished ahead of her (I know, hard to believe!). I knew that would change eventually but I did not expect it to happen as it did. I always imagined I’d be super happy for her as I’m a fairly level-headed person, but when she actually beat me for the first time it was hard for my pride to take. I ended up getting upset that her friend ran with her for the last couple miles of the race. I blamed her pacer for her having an unfair advantage, but really I’m the one who gave her the advantage when I stewed about it the last two miles rather than focusing on my own race.
It took a few days but I eventually realized that I was being catty. I extended an olive branch in the form of an invitation to get some beers and we’ve been great friends ever since. I am so glad she gave me a second chance!
I know I am not alone. Despite our best efforts to act like grown-ups and to support each other in our sport, often we devolve into catty she-beasts wondering who she thinks she is wearing those tiny bunz or lining up so close to the front or this and that. Or we might get all reverse-catty and think someone else, someone who hasn’t even noticed us maybe, is snarking on our tiny bunz or our starting line placement. Why is this?
When we race it’s like a performance and we feel vulnerable to critique. In a way we lay our egos on that starting line. Our race performances mean a lot to us and often we let them become barometers of our self worth. Well, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way and in fact this cattiness is actually detrimental to our performances!
When we judge others it’s usually because we’re really hard on ourselves. Being hard on ourselves is no way to maximize performance as it causes negative thought patterns and tension. And we all know that positivity and running relaxed are two of the keys to performing at our best. When we’re nice to those around us, we’ll feel better about ourselves and more relaxed. It doesn’t mean you have to be a doormat or can’t want to win or finish ahead of as many people as possible.
Here’s where I bust out my inner nerd. Did you know that the word ‘competition’ comes from the Latin word for “come together?” Imagine going to a race and instead of viewing all other competitors there as a threat think of it as a big party where we all get together to do what we love and see how far we’ve come. Imagine wishing all the runners around you good luck and hoping they run their best. Imagine a another racer coming up to pass you in a race and instead of thinking “SH*T I SUCK!” or “Who the H#$L is THAT?!” you say, “Great job. So happy to have company. Let’s roll!” and try to stay with her.
Since that race where I got all catty on Pepper, we’ve become each others’ biggest fans and both run better because of it. In 2011 we finished 3, yes 3 races holding hands together! The last one was the Columbus Marathon. It was my A-race last year and Pepper decided she was going to pace me because she wasn’t ready to race herself. It was a terrible race for me. I experienced the dreaded marathon bonk, but I have never had more fun in a race and I doubt I would have made it to the finish without Pepper! The above picture isn’t the best. To fully appreciate the togetherness check out the finish video!
For more on cattiness, check out Shalane and Kara’s take on the subject in this video: