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Comfortable?

Painful Run

“Somewhere along the line we seem to have confused comfort with happiness.”

- Dean Karnazes

The picture above was taken somewhere during the second half of Berlin Marathon in 2011. Three years ago, if you would have told me that I would be running a marathon, much less one on another continent, I would have said you were crazy. But, here I am, having run two marathons on two continents and planning my third in the fall in South America. In fact, I just signed up for this summer’s CARA marathon training a few minutes ago.

And if it looks like I’m in pain in the picture, that’s because I am. Running a marathon hurts. But it also completely transformed my life. Before I started running into 2010, I was depressed and feeling terrible about myself. Then I decided to run the Chicago Marathon. Running a marathon is something that I had said I always wanted to do, but never really thought I would. It had been 5 years since I graduated from college and I had spent a majority of my time on the couch. I was the heaviest and most out of shape I’d ever been. But emotionally and mentally, I was in a place where staying the same wasn’t an option. So I decided to attempt what I considered the impossible.

It was February when I made my decision. I starting running at the gym on a treadmill, a half mile at a time. I measured a half mile loop around my neighborhood and in March did my first run outside. I was going for four loops, or two miles. Coming into the final loop, I thought I was going to die. Literally, my heart was beating out of my chest and I felt like I couldn’t breath. I seriously thought I was crazy. If I couldn’t even complete two miles, how was I going to make it 26.2?

But I stuck with it. That summer, I ran with the 10 minute per mile pace group in the CARA marathon training program. That summer, I hurt more than I ever had before. The runs were hot and grueling. My body was rebelling against what I was trying to do. I had awful shin splints and spent most of my Saturdays after training soaking, icing, and sleeping.

I also made some incredible friends and learned of the awesomeness that is the post-run brunch! A giant stack of pancakes never tastes any better than after you’ve run 16 miles. Ever heard of the “runner’s high”? It exists and it feels amazing. Each week the sense of accomplishment that I felt after the long run was unreal.

Slowly and steadily the training started effecting me in other ways. I was getting more confident. I was eating more healthy food. I was losing weight. I started trying other things, going out more with friends, and exploring the city. And when I actually completed the marathon and accomplished the impossible, it made me realize that I was much more powerful than I thought.This set me free to explore my limits, which I’m still doing today.

I just started a great new job, am taking improv classes at The Second City, and am in the middle of starting a non-profit organization. And I never would have started this blog if I hadn’t taken those first steps in 2010.

If I hadn’t, I’m not sure where I’d be today. But I’m pretty sure I’d still be miserable.

Trying something new can be scary and uncomfortable. But it also might just be the best thing that could happen to you. It sure was for me. Here are a few books that I read recently that just might help give you the “umph” you need to take your own first steps.

- The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

- The Dip and/or Poke the Box by Seth Godin

- The Flinch by Julien Smith (and this one is FREE!)

So this week, I challenge you to take a step outside of your comfort zone. And then take another. Each step gives you more confidence for the next. Take enough steps and you’ll change your life….and maybe even the world.

Make it a great one all!!!

  • Such a great story and testament to how we can either hold ourselves back or transform our lives! I’m so proud of you and all you’ve accomplished. I know there are great things in store for you and you make me want to do better!

    The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh

    May 16, 2012

  • Thanks so much Mrs! You’re quite the inspiration yourself :)

    jeff

    May 20, 2012

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