I have heard the expression 'big fish in a small pond' and that can work against you. When you're the biggest fish in the pond, you won't be as motivated to grow even more. Even if you don't compare yourself with others, you won't be as inclined to take steps to become 'better'. Fortunately, this world is vast with the number of people, and for people such as I, I see that there are still a lot of people that are better than me at running. I look at the Olympic athletes that are competing this year in London, and compare myself to them. I look at the ultra-distance runners that compete as a sponsored athlete for different organizations, and I see where I'm at compared to them. I see that compared to both of them, I'm still nowhere close, that I need to keep on climbing.
You don't go up mountains riding an escalator. It takes steps to climb up and conquer it. I take each individual that is faster than me as a step. Through my training, I start beating the people that used to be above me because I'm training with a reason to go past that step. To me, being the fastest long distance runner in the city isn't worth anything compared to the fastest long distance runner in the state or the country. As I become the big fish in the small pond, I 'enlarge' my pond and take the challenge to the next level. After reaching a certain point, because I compare myself to the others in the pond, I grow, and once again, 'enlarge' the pond.
Comparing myself to others in this way has always encouraged me to go further and go beyond my limits. When you look at comparing as a competition, it becomes a healthier sort of comparison, an encouragement. Looking at those Olympic athletes and professional ultra-distance runners, it encourages me to chase after them and reach for my goals. I can always look at them and compare myself to them and see that I can improve and get better, that all I need to do was to continuously take steps.
Let's use comparison to help you improve and reach towards your goals.