“Happiness is pushing your limits and watching them back down.” – New Balance ad
This morning marked another trail running first – my first night run. This took my inexperience to a whole new level, because not only have I not build up my trail legs yet, but now I was going to tackle technical trails in the dark. I looked for excuses not to go on the run and stick to my regular route on roads instead. It’ll be too dark out, I’ll be exhausted after staying up for the election, I’ll fall, I’ll slow the group down, I’m not in trail running shape yet. Like with anything in life, you can come up with excuses until you’re blue in the face. It’s much easier to stay complacent than venture into the unknown. But that doesn’t mean that you should listen to that voice inside your head telling you no.
The run was creepy at first, I’ll admit. It was unnerving to only see a small portion of the ground right under my feet and nothing else. Greg thankfully took the lead and I just had to follow in his footsteps. My worst fear happened less than a mile into the run – I tripped over a rock and faceplanted into the dirt. That fall shifted everything for me; I faced my fear, realized it wasn’t so bad, and then was able to relax and enjoy my surroundings. I loved tuning in to my other senses – hearing the animals waking, smelling the wet earth, and then watching as the sun slowly rose over Birmingham.
My fear holds me back fitness-wise at times – I’m afraid of pushing myself to the point of discomfort. It was difficult mentally to want to run past 6 miles at first, because I was afraid that I’d get tired or need to stop. My current fear is speedwork. I know in order to get stronger and faster I need to sprinkle speedwork into my runs, but the thought of running fast and feeling short of breath makes me balk.
Fear, or hesitation can apply to any type of workout; people are scared of physical discomfort. Sure, most people can physically run a marathon if they train properly for it but it won’t be easy or comfortable, which is why most don’t even try. You can simulate a race by fueling and drinking like you would at water stops, but you still don’t know how your body will react, and that unknown is what throws people off. But once you’re willing to take that risk, you’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish. And say you don’t meet your goal, that’s ok. You either learn from your experience and try again, or choose a different goal to work toward.
An ultra running friend I met on Twitter, Dan, asked if I wanted to train for a 50 miler in March. My immediate knee-jerk reaction was hell no! I’ve never run a step over 26.2 miles, how would I ever run 50? After pausing and thinking about it more I realized that I shouldn’t dismiss the thought so quickly. Yes, 50 miles may not be realistic right now, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t train for a shorter race.
The same applies to everything in life. Just because it makes you uncomfortable doesn’t mean that you should avoid it. Branch out, try new things, make mistakes, and have a good time doing it.
Is there anything holding you back now because it’s out of your comfort zone?