The Reality of No-Pain No-Gain and The Comfort Zone Thing

I like to be comfortable and I hate pain. I’ll bet you do too. No one avoids going to the dentist or paying off the balance on my credit card better than me.

For a year or more I’ve been working within my comfort zone. Every workout has been pre-empted with a mental reassurance of  ‘You’re good, girl. Just do what you can do’.

Guess what?

That doesn’t work.

The reality is that if you want to exceed, or better yet, excel at anything you are going to experience some pain. You are going to be uncomfortable. The rewards that come from both of these not-so-awesome ‘feelings’ are worth it. Life beings at the end of your comfort zone.

 

Comfort Zone

Dealing With Uncomfortable Pain: Outsmart Your Brain

I had to begin to reevaluate my own reality a few months ago when, for the second year in a row, it was looking like I wouldn’t be ready to run the Illinois Marathon (IM) half marathon. The IM is a huge annual event in my hometown (practically). I work in C-U and the this event brings that community to life on a level you might not be able to understand until you experience it.

I love the Illinois Marathon. Last year I didn’t participate for reasons too boring to go into here. This year, for similar reasons I thought I wouldn’t participate again. And then, something happened. I was sitting at my desk at work and my inner voice that always says “You’re good, girl” spoke to me in a different way.

She said, “What is wrong with you? Two years in a row you’re not going to run the half in the Illinois Marathon? ” I realized that if I didn’t do it this year I would never do it again.

At that moment I registered for the event and spent the next six weeks training so that I would be ready to, once again, run 13 miles.

Out of My Comfort Zone

My long runs took place on Saturday or Sunday morning. It was spring in Illinois and that means it’s either too chilly or too warm. There’s no in between. On some days it rained.

The first week I ran seven miles, the next week eight. Finally I got up to a painful, uncomfortable nine miles. There were days I didn’t want to go. There were days when my brain kept talking me out of going one more mile.

Why?? I want to do this. Why is my own brain working against me?

I’m not sure but I think it has to do with the way we have convinced ourselves that the status quo is good enough. We start to believe that we shouldn’t ever have to experience pain or be uncomfortable. I don’t know who to blame for that and it doesn’t matter now. If you can overcome that voice in your brain that tells you ‘you’re good’ when you’re not or that ‘you’ve got this’ when you don’t, you can reach your goals.

Was It Worth It?

Oh yes! It was awesome. Here I am at the Memorial Stadium Finish Line with my daughter.

half marathon

And here’s me with my daughter and other like-minded people I know that are willing to push to reach their goals.

IM Collage

After the half marathon I was ready for more painful and uncomfortablness.

I ran the Lake Mingo 7 mile trail run last week. The trail run is a series of rugged hills that suck the life out of you followed by valleys where you feel like you are going to fall head over heels. I was not comfortable at all after mile 2. But, look at me. I got a medal! I got fourth in my age group.

Lake Mingo Train Run

Here’s What I Know

I could not have done this without these 3 things:

— Changing my mental attitude to put an end to the complacent acceptance that whatever I can do is good enough. It’s not, and that thinking leads to nothingness.

— Seeking out people who are willing to be uncomfortable with me. If you can find people that can handle a little pain and you are able to support each other in the process you’ve struck gold. The picture below is a group of us that conquered the Lake Mingo trail.

Lake Mingo

 

— Accepting that there is going to be some pain in the process. It might be rain hitting your face on a training run or having to get out of a warm bed a lot earlier than you want to. If you are going to get what you want out of life getting uncomfortable and experiencing some pain is  inevitable.

It’s not easy being exceptional but, I know that you can be.

I’m begging you to settle for nothing less.

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