Who’s Better? On the Good & Bad of Competition…

GL Competition Jan Lena - 1

On competition….

Last weekend my sister and I ran a road race together.  Something that we do a few times a year, but recently, she has taken her speed to a whole new level and I can’t even begin to keep up with her (not that I ever really could.)

During this race, a million thoughts ran through my head (if only I were as fast as my thoughts), and as I ran, I was able to really think about competition and what it means to me.  Since I have been so vulnerable and honest these days and have received such positive feedback from you all, I thought I would continue in that vein.  I guess we will call this the “Lively Blog Series: Jan gets Personal” (in case you missed my last post: Would you Criticize HER? you can find it here.)

Okay, here goes….

I’m a personal trainer and a fitness coach, so I should be the best at everything that is exercise related, right???  Well, I could easily let that play out in my head, but the reality is, of course I am not the best at everything that I do, far from it, but I always try to find enjoyment in everything that I do.  That said, every time I tell a client or someone that I am running a race, they ask if I will win.  As much as I appreciate the vote of confidence, I can’t help but feel inadequate, as at this point in my life, winning a road race is probably as likely as Pope Francis sitting down with me for dinner tonight.  So let’s just keep going with this….

Perhaps at this said race I am already feeling a bit self conscious about the fact that I am not a fast runner and then, enter my sister.  She is an amazing athlete.  She makes it look effortless (although I know that it is probably not) and she has always been gifted in sports and is incredibly strong.  In fact, she would best me in most any physical activity.  And here’s where competition comes into the equation.  There are two things that can happen.

I could:

  1. Feel envious and inadequate, allowing my mind to go to a dark place full of negativity.
  2. Make less of an effort and act like I wasn’t trying in the first place so that I have an excuse as to why I didn’t do as well.
  3. Stumble into a place of self judgement, disappointment, and maybe even self loathing.


  1. Find joy in her ability AND mine.
  2. Honor and acknowledge her strength and recognize the qualities that I want to see in MYSELF.
  3. Be inspired to push ME to be MY best self and try harder.

As after all, like anything, competition can live in light or darkness.  Choose light and competition will drive you to be the best version of yourself and see in others what you want to see in yourself – OR – allow it to live in darkness and let jealousy, negativity, and envy rule your experience.  The choice is simple, right?

This particular race had a few turnarounds which meant that at a certain point, the faster runners would pass those not as fast.  As I began to approach the first turnaround, the lead runners started to pass me (I still had a ways to go) and I knew at any second I would see her.  I could spot her stride from a mile away (and her uber fashionable running socks).  And as she came sprinting down the hill, what she doesn’t know, is that I choked on my tears.  They exploded from my eyes.  I was so proud.  I was so taken by her drive, her strength, and her ability that I could hardly breathe.  And THAT is what carried me through the rest of the race and pushed ME to keep going and find the unadulterated joy in our collective efforts.  Forget about being jealous and feeling inadequate.  No, I channelled all of the positive energy and light that I had within me as I rode her proverbial tailwind to the finish.

So there you have it, competition.  Between siblings, friends, co-workers, employees, whoever; you can use it to raise the bar for everyone to put their best foot forward or you can allow it to bring out your less than desirable qualities.  The choice is yours.

Thanks, Bug for inspiring this piece.  Love you.

Jan & Lena at the 5 Mile Ocean to Bay Road Race. Truro, MA
Jan & Lena at the 5 Mile Ocean to Bay Road Race. Truro, MA


  1. Mom

    Well said Jan. Made me incredibly proud of you both. It also makes me proud of myself as I really tried as you girls were growing up to make each of you proud of your own special gifts. I have three incredible daughters who are each gifted in their own way and that I am a big part of their lives makes me incredibly grateful. Love is the answer.

    1. Jan Taylor

      You SHOULD feel proud! You always encouraged us, nurtured our unique gifts, and taught us to love each other. Well done, Fradoodle. 🙂
      And yes, love is ALWAYS the answer.

  2. Justine

    This is an inspiring read. You also are an amazing athlete! We all compete at different levels. I too will never win the race or lift the heaviest but I am grateful I have the legs and arms to participate. Looking forward to seeing you this summer!

    1. Jan Taylor

      Thank you, Justine! I’m so glad you enjoyed this piece. Your statement is beautiful: “I am grateful I have the legs and arms to participate.” Just perfect. See you soon!

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