I was comfortable.
When I was young, I really didn’t like running. In fact, unless there was a clear and obvious benefit, like not being late for dinner or scoring a run/touchdown/goal, I pretty much didn’t run…ever.
Then, I turned 43 and decided it would be in my cardiovascular system’s best interest to get off my ass and run. So, I began to run…short distances and then built up to the 3 miles that would become my all too familiar comfort zone. That 3 miles was where I lived, where I felt good, where I stayed.
Fast forward to summer of 2013 when I was having lunch with AC, a friend of mine. We were talking about running…well, he was talking and I was mostly eating (I’m a sucker for split pea soup). I was telling AC about how I preferred to stay at my 3 mile limit because my body was telling me that it hurt to go further. 3 miles was my happy place. I stayed true to it and my body stayed happy. No pain, no discomfort. I know this because when I ventured into the 5 or 6 mile territory, I’d feel the consequences of sore knees and sore other parts. I respected the 3 mile zone. And then AC started in….
Me: I don’t like to run more than 3 miles.
Me: Because I get sore knees when I go more than 3.
AC: That’s because you’re not used to running more than 3. You’ve been running 3 and that’s what your body is familiar with. If you ran further, you’d get used to that too and then you wouldn’t feel the pain.
Me: Uhhhh….what? Wait, that makes complete sense.
I was holding back my progress by limiting myself to what felt right, not realizing that I had stopped pushing myself. I got soft. I got complacent. AC’s logic was like a light bulb going on above my head and all of a sudden, I began to envision that maybe, just maybe I could bust through the glass ceiling I had created in my mind. Isn’t that what Nike meant with their “Just Do It” campaign? So, I started pushing myself further, little by little. After all, if I could run 3, then 4 is only 1 more mile. And if 4 is doable, then 5 or 6 is completely within reach with a little more effort and focus. And if 6 is achievable, then why not go to 7 with a little extra effort. And if 7 is attainable, well…you get the idea. After all, if other people can do this, why can’t I?
So, I set my goal to run my first half marathon this December. It turns out there is a routine that when followed, can lead you being completely ready and physically capable of finishing a half. I’m about 2 months into my training and you know what? The 10 miles I ran last weekend felt just as familiar as how 3 miles used to feel just 2 months ago. In fact, the more I run and the closer I get to my goal, the less this becomes about running. It’s about reaching for more. Challenging myself to be more.
I think we all get into our own comfort zones at work, at home, with our families, in all areas of our lives. I’ve gone years doing then same things, having the same routines, eating the same foods, etc. While I have been mostly pretty happy with the various areas of my life, was I really living up to my potential? Was I pushing myself to really be my best or was I just comfortable with where I was? Sometimes, a friend can hold up the mirror and open our eyes so that we can see ourselves in a different light. Maybe we can eat healthier, or work smarter, or run farther if we just simply ask ourselves “is this the best I can do”? Maybe if we set our sights higher, we’ll get used to stretching ourselves and create our new normal.
Is there an area in your life that you’re tolerating? An area in which you could do better? I bet there is and I bet there is no better time than now to just decide to try and be better….to just set a small goal…to Just Do It.
Salt n’ Pepa were right….Push It.