Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Uncomfortable.

“If we're growing, we're always going to be out of our comfort zone.”
― John Maxwell

It's getting hotter, as it does when summer is inching closer. The morning run isn't quite as delicious as it was a few months ago when I didn't break a sweat until mile 2; when I could come home from a 3 miler NOT looking like I went for a swim. I did 8 miles this morning. And I did them faster than typical. I felt a little guilty because I didn't do speed work last week, and I took both Saturday AND Sunday morning off-- no running. (OH, the glory of 2 lazy mornings in a row!)

As I ran, and my legs grew tired and my mind started tipping to that "maybe I should just stop and walk" place, I shifted my thoughts to just how exhausting, uncomfortable, and well, just plain crappy some workouts can be. But training is like so many other things in life-- if we remain in our comfort, we remain the same. Comfort says, "But I've never done that/gone there/thought that before..." Comfort says, "Oh, that's not for me." "I couldn't possibly." "Maybe some other time."

If we want to change, become better, in anything, we have to be willing to be uncomfortable. We have to "get comfortable with being uncomfortable" (a quote that is attributed to Jillian Michaels). If your training doesn't leave you tired, sweaty, and at least a little sore, then you are NOT training.

The trick is knowing that the pain is coming, and pushing into it-- through it, instead of letting it push you down-- defeat you. I read an article somewhere (sorry, it's been awhile) where one professional runner seemed to take offense at the use of the word pain. He preferred the use of the word "discomfort." I think his word choice is probably part of his mental training-- pain means stop; discomfort means push through. And let me clarify-- the pain I'm referring to is the ache in the legs-- the feeling that your legs have suddenly turned into petrified wood, that your lungs simply cannot continue to accept oxygen and push it through your body. If ever you are training, and you feel a sharp pain, then that is a sign of injury--stop!

Chris McCormack, a professional triathlete, just wrote his thoughts about pain in this article on the triathlete side of Competitor Magazine's online edition. He says:
Our biggest challenge in triathlon is overcoming that part of your mind that tells you to slow down or stop. I have found that the best way to achieve this is to accept (or “embrace”) that moment of absolute suffering. Treat pain like an old friend. It’s not that you enjoy suffering, but when you accept it as a moment that signifies that you are pushing yourself and advancing toward your goal, then you have begun to approach pain management from the right direction. 
He uses the phrase, "Embracing the suck," which has now become popular everywhere. But at the heart of the phrase is truth. If you want to avoid pain, you will avoid a chance to better yourself.
 I couldn't resist.

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