It’s supposed to be uncomfortable…

My long runs are getting long which means they are also getting a little more uncomfortable, both mentally and physically.  Physical is pretty obvious.  Today I ran for 3 hours and 42 minutes (12 extra minutes due to getting a tad turned around on the trails) and around 2.5 hours I usually start to feel discomfort in my feet, my leg muscles start to talk to me (not angry yet, just a little annoyed), and I start feeling a little chaffed.  The mental games start about 30 minutes later–“What the? Melissa, why are you spending your Saturday doing this?”  “How will you ever finish a 54 km race if you’re already falling apart 3 hours in?”  “You’re not as tough as you use to be…”

I was pulling myself up a long steady hill, 5.5 miles from home, feeling a little pissed off at myself for feeling worse than I believed I should, and my thought of the day came.  “Its supposed to be uncomfortable, Melissa.  If it wasn’t uncomfortable, it wouldn’t be worth it.  Embrace it and push into it.”

When you set a goal, its usually because you want to in some way be better–getting your health in line, being a better parent, friend, spouse, employee…whatever.  Being better requires being uncomfortable for a while. It means telling your ego to leave (not always fun to do).  In relationships, for me, it means not having to be right.  In running, it means being okay with a little chaffing, muscle ache, and over all fatigue– When I look at the pain/unpleasant sensations as something that is suppose to happen–like a growing pain– it hurts less and I’m able to push harder towards my goal.

Of course there is a time and place for comfort.  Like right now, I’m going to make myself as comfortable as possible in my bed (air-mattress, we spent our bed money on plane tickets and tuition but its not so bad after sleeping with roaches and giant spiders in SE Asia and India)!

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3 thoughts on “It’s supposed to be uncomfortable…

  1. Shawn

    In my therapy last week we talked about hurt vs. harm. A little hurt is a good thing because you are pushing yourself, but pushing yourself to the point of doing harm is not so healthy. It was a good topic as I reflected on how sometimes I am so focused on my goal that I push myself past hurt and end up doing harm. Harm actually sets you back from achieving your goal.

    However today, I am going to be laying around drinking hot tea. I have some nasty cough-cold bug. Hope I did not pick it up a the hospital – I always worry about hanging out with sick people – but I also worry about giving my germs to people with people with comprised immune systems – so I must get better quickly.

    • Melissa

      That’s a good point, Shawn. I think the key is being able to distinguish between temporary discomfort and damaging pain. If its actual pain, then your body is saying, “Do something different! This isn’t working!” But discomfort can be managed and will bring your towards you goal. I think its common to get the two confused and people think, “This hurts” and stop pursing their goal when their body was really just saying, “Hey, this is uncomfortable but I’ll deal with it and build back stronger.”

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