I never considered myself to be a competitive person. I was never involved in team sports as a kid, never chased a trophy or a medal. I wanted to be one of the better dancers in my classes, but never really lost sleep over my turn out or height of my grand jete.
I wasn't until after college and I started cycling that I realized I might just be a little competitive. I started riding with my husband (who was my boy friend at the time) and I knew he was an accomplished and skilled cyclist so I wasn't competitive with him, it was much worse than that. I was competitive with myself or more specifically this perfect image in my head of myself. This Shannon vs Shannon has grown to a full out ugly competitive streak. When you are always trying to beat yourself, you never win!
Over the weekend I was working an Expo at a 5K where I met a lot of new runners. During our chats, most of them would tell me what their goal time was followed by "but I am not trying to win, just finish". That sounds a lot like me. Most of the events I enter, I am not trying to win but that doesn't mean I am not there to compete.
I personally fell that anyone involved in some form of endurance sport has a small twinge of competitive nature. You might not re-work your whole life to shave seconds off your pace, but you find a fellow racer and think "I should be able to beat her/him."
Are you competitive? Do you think it helps or hurts you?