Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable!

Posted: December 21, 2010 in Uncategorized

Training for a marathon requires going beyond your comfort zone simply because you’ll increase your mileage each week. Many of you will be running the requisite mileage for the very first time at training. I love when a runner proclaims, “I have never run 10 miles before!” That enthusiasm is infectious and inspiring.

By going beyond your comfort zone you’ll be on the road to discovery. You’ll learn that life is truly lived beyond your comfort zone. Once you realize that, by pushing your physical limits, you’ll be capable of achieving far more than you ever imagined. These incremental accomplishments are the cornerstone for greater challenge and achievement.

How deep into the well of pain are you willing to go to achieve your running goals? In my 35 years of running I have experienced considerable pain whether it was attempting to improve upon my 2:33:13 marathon PR or trying to squeeze in just one more mile on my 112 mile effort in a 24 hour race. I have learned to manage the physical pain quite well but I’ve found that dealing with the mental anguish can be a greater challenge.

It is important that you mentally prepare for the onslaught of pain and discomfort. Your physiology will always be a limiting factor but you have far more control of how you mentally handle pain. I had a breakthrough moment in one of my early marathons when I decided to push the pace when the pain first appeared and I actually felt better. It’s human nature to assume the best way to relieve pain is to slow down. I have learned that you can increase your pace for a short distance and once you return to the previous pace when the pain first appeared, it actually feels easier. It seems counter-intuitive that you can feel less pain by increasing your pace but you should try it. It builds confidence that will serve you well in your running.

Focusing on your form and breathing will also allow you to relax when you’re uncomfortable. Negative thoughts are a natural byproduct of being uncomfortable. Rather than allowing this negativity to consume you and diminish the quality of your run, you should focus on all the benefits of enduring this discomfort (e.g., you are getting physically stronger, mentally tougher and you’ll be able to endure the closing miles of the marathon with greater ease from a mental and physical standpoint because of this effort).

As your coach my aspirations are far greater than simply getting you to the finish line of the 2011 Boston Marathon in ‘relative comfort.’ I want to see you adopt and incorporate the mantra of ‘getting comfortable being uncomfortable’ into all facets of your life so that you’ll place yourself in a position to experience enlightenment and inspiration when you least expect it.

You may actually be the source of inspiration for all the people who live well within their comfort zone!

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