Last Sunday’s run started out relatively normal – fast, even. After our warm-up and fifteen minute walk, we cruised into Forest Park, down the hill by way of the Lindell sidewalk entrance. I was rockin’ out to Nicki Minaj. There were loads of other runners/walkers/bikers/stollers in the park. The set-up was perfect for a great afternoon run.
Two minutes in, I realized I hadn’t set my interval timer app…
And that the “arm band” I was using was more uncomfortable than usual…
And that I had drank all of one glass of water that entire (hot-ish) day. At 9 am.
All of a sudden, the run went down hill FAST (and not in the good way). I yelled at Ashley to keep track of the interval on her watch until it was time to walk so that I could set up the interval app. The app didn’t work. I yelled at her again on the path and was annoyed/frustrated/flustered/distracted when I started the second interval.
Shit did not get better. By the end, I was overheated, my lower legs were hurting, my breathing sucked and my mental state was the worst.
Sometimes, running f*cking blows.
Last Tuesday was the first shitty run I’d had since starting my training plan six weeks ago – all of the others leading up to it had been pretty smooth – lots more walking, mild spring temperatures, better hydration… blah blah blah: BETTER.
When it came time to run again that following Tuesday, I was optimistic that it’d get right back to feeling awesome during my run – it couldn’t be total shit two runs in a row, surely. Right?
That run blew the big one too, from a physical standpoint. Side stitches, stomach issues, legs that felt dead… nothing was right. Luckily, I’d done some thinking in between the two epicly terrible runs, so during the Tuesday one, I used my brain to get through the run, focusing on certain parts of my form, making mental lists of why I was running in the first place and what I wanted to gain from it beyond just the physical goal accomplishment of completing a half marathon in September.
I finished that run strong, conquering the hill at the end of our route with pride and knowing that even though the run totally blew, I had finished. And I’d be better for it.
When Friday morning rolled around and my alarm went off at 5am, I brainstormed a great list of reasons not to go running – and one of the biggies?
Last time (and the time before) was hard. Really, really hard.
Luckily, optimism kicked in. I told myself that even if I had to walk the whole stinkin’ time, getting out of bed and going on a run was what I would need to get myself through the weekend still committed to this goal. And then…
Friday’s run was positively wonderful.
I breezed through it – my pace was quicker, my breathing was regular and strong, my legs felt great after. I actually couldn’t stop smiling. I stepped out on the balcony and snapped this picture and felt on top of the world:
So today’s post, the third of my bi-weekly series of Goal Smash Wednesday posts, is about feeling uncomfortable.
During those two horrendous runs, I was absolutely uncomfortable – prior to that, the workouts had felt really within my fitness level. Prior to the crappy runs, I was doing 3 minutes running; 1 minute walking intervals – during the week of crappy runs (week 5), my intervals jumped up to 5 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking, totaling about 3 miles for each run.
This was the point in the other training plans I’ve tried in the past that I’d usually quit.
Either that, or I’d never get to this point because I’d keep walking whenever I felt like it instead of trying to push through to the end of an interval so that I would be able to do the next set of workouts when the time came.
I’ve never liked being uncomfortable. Not just in running – in all aspects of life. I work pretty hard to avoid being uncomfortable – emotionally, physically, even mentally and spiritually.
This week, with those shitty, uncomfortable runs behind me, I realized:
Being uncomfortable is CRITICAL to growth in most aspects of life.
As I drove to and from Bettendorf this weekend for wedding activities, I caught up with a podcast I really like to listen to from time to time called The Accidental Creative.
There were two episodes that spoke to me the most on this particular topic.
In the first, the author/podcaster Todd Henry, was speaking about distractions and how often, when we’re engaging in the hard work of creativity – of turning thoughts into value when you’re not really sure what the direction or end product is going to be – we find every excuse to do something else, like checking email or social networks, because we’re looking for the instant gratification of accomplishing a task. Many individuals use distractions and smaller, mundane tasks to provide that feeling of goal/task fulfillment that you can’t get from the long, grueling process of really creating something at length…
…they use distractions to get through the discomfort of hard mental creative work.
Then, in a later episode, Henry interviewed riCardo Crespo and he spoke about being uncomfortable directly. Two quotes that really stood out to me from this podcast were:
If you don’t do that (whatever it is that makes you uncomfortable), then you’ll never know what it is. But if you do it, and it really is uncomfortable and you’re not ready, you can always step back and attack it from another angle… If you take that step, it’s only going to reward you over and over.
And this little gem, for the competitive types like me:
I find that most people default to just living in the comfort zone and I gotta be honest, if you’re going to live there, then great for you, less competition for me.
So with all of this going on, I took a little bit of time to reflect on where in my life I’ve been avoiding being uncomfortable and where I might benefit from pushing the boundaries a bit so that true personal growth can take place.
Here’s my list:
- In personal (read: romantic) relationships, I avoid feeling uncomfortable by not putting myself out there.
- At work, I avoid feeling uncomfortable by not taking on more responsibilities for our team and sticking to what I already know how to do.
- With this blog, I avoid feeling uncomfortable by continually putting off the re-writing of my About page because I think bios are super frickin’ hard to write and I’ve been avoiding the customization of the new theme I selected because I need to learn some CSS and know it’s going to be challenging/time-consuming.
Alrighty. I know this is getting long, but I do want to include the re-cap of weeks five and six of half marathon training!
Re-Cap of Training:
- Intervals were 5 minutes of running and 1 of walking, for 30 minutes or 2.5 miles (on Sunday) plus warm-up, cool downs, and strength/cross-training routines.
- I didn’t do my best job of sticking to the schedule I had planned during this phase of the training I got all of the workouts in but am not sure that the timing/scheduling was optimal for them.
- Painful side stitches during the fourth and fifth intervals of my crappy runs. In addition to everything else about them that totally blew.
- It’s getting hotter out. So this will be something to adjust to.
- I didn’t quit. Even though I really wanted to after two bad runs in a row. Sounds silly to celebrate that, but honestly, knowing my track record, perseverance will always be celebrated.
- Made it up at 5am on Friday morning again to destroy my run before a long weekend.
Today’s Blog Everyday in May prompt was to rant about something – so I guess my rant was about being comfortable with being uncomfortable? Eh, close enough. Linking up over there with Jenni and also with Shanna for Random Wednesdays!
What are you doing to avoid feeling uncomfortable? Do you think you could push the limits and grow a bit?