|On the run at my first triathlon|
Being comfortable with being uncomfortable!
Is this even possible?
They say it is, though I am not sure if 'they' know what 'they' are talking about.
This expression of "Being comfortable with being uncomfortable" is usually used in conversations about change and embracing and adapting to change.
Change is good, I get that. I actually like change to a certain degree. I think we all need change in our lives, it keeps us fresh and on our toes!
Now in the COVID-19 world we are living in, we have all had our fair share of changes. Some if not most of them have been thrust upon us. They were not the changes that we would have made to our lives on our own. If you are like me, the constant changes, the unknowns of the last four months have made life a little stressful.
I wonder when this is all done, will we be stronger or weaker?
Will we have all learned that we need to take a chill pill some times, relax and just go with the flow! I wonder...
I would love to believe that this will help me in the future, but of course, like most if not all of life there is no guarantees that it will.
The reason that I bring that up is my inability in the past to move past a certain level of perceived pain and suffering and soldier on as they say. This subject has come up for me because of Ironman distance racing. It seems that I can survive the 2.4 mile swim. I can ride the 112 miles on the bike and still walk, yet when it comes to putting a run together for any length of time after that.... I fail...
Now if you buy into the typical line of thought with the title of this post, and see the uncomfortable portion as being the ability to accept and embrace change, I feel like I have that down pat. I have spent most of my adult life adapting to my ever changing surroundings.
In my previous career, I loved changed! I embraced change and that is what helped me move around and learn more in the company I worked for. So many of my co-workers back then could not change to a different model of doing things. One thing that works in your favor is if you are new, then it is not a big deal to change your habits, you don't know any different. I was fortunate to always embrace the idea of starting over and just learning. I like being a sponge of sorts when it comes to knowledge and application.
Ironman... a whole different breed is an understatement
I would have never upon NEVER dreamed that I would compete in an Ironman triathlon. If you would have asked me at various ages of my life, let's say at 20 or 30 or even 40 that I would train and line up at the start line of an Ironman event, I would have died laughing.
Now I like riding my bike but not for 112 miles, much less the idea of swimming and running, that would have never, I mean never been on my radar screen.
But here we are. The events that got me to the first start line for an Ironman race will have to be covered in another post.
Back on subject to a degree.....
There is the expression "you don't know what you don't know".
That expression is so true yet so many people cannot grasp it. Well when you begin the Ironman journey you must be willing to accept both the expressions and actually more truths than that. But for the sake of this post we will just work with being uncomfortable!
Who likes being uncomfortable? No one I would imagine and before you think that I am going to help you... you are sadly mistaken because I struggle with this one!
My coaches and friends who do these races have told me over and over again, everyone is suffering out there and you have to find a way to push past it.
Part of my idea to overcome the suffering and push past the pain this year was to schedule a once month 6 or 7 hour walk / run. I managed to do that for the 3 months of the year and then COVID-19 happened and that plan took a back seat.
What I learned on the those long walks was that I could walk a marathon and after the first two, I didn't really hurt or have any lingering aches or pains. Which would lead me to believe that conditioning plays a vital role in the ability to reach a certain level of 'perceived' pain and then push through and keep moving.
Now I did have someone with me in all of those long walks this year. That is huge for me in the sense that I had someone to talk with or at least know they were doing this with me even if we didn't say anything for blocks of time. My takeaway, suffering was more bearable if you have a partner.
So if conditioning and having a willing partner in the activity are helps to pushing past the pain, why have I failed to push past the pain.
When race day comes, I have logged some decent run/walk mileage in preparing for the race and when you are on the run portion of the race, there is plenty of company to say the least.
So... why have I failed to push past the discomfort? Great question, actually the 64 thousand dollar question...
Who the heck knows? My guess, there is a mental breakdown of sorts that happens. My mind wanders during the day. At my pace/speed my mind wanders at a certain point. I have learned this during training. I can focus for an hour, maybe even two hours, but once I get past a certain point, I begin to day dream. Almost like a little kids lying in the grass searching for a four leaf clover. If I am riding outside, I begin to look at the scenery and I naturally slow down. If I am running or walking, the same thing almost happens. The ability to stay focused wanes... my mind wanders, I slow down and then I begin to second guess myself and what I am doing out there.
And that is when it begins... The pain and suffering... My feet hurt, my stomach hurts, my head hurts, etc, etc, etc as the King says. [Movie reference from the King and I] The mental breakdown begins because of the perceived aches and pains.
So the whole point in writing this.... trying to understand my own psyche and how to overcome my own mind.
Because in the end that is what it is. It is mental, it is a mental game of sorts. Its not physical*, it is mental. You have to be mentally tough at my pace, my speed to finish an Ironman event strong.
We will see how this next year of training goes, can I get mentally tougher? Great question
Peace my handful of readers on this glorious day. Hope you stay safe and healthy
* Let's be honest, you have to train physically for an Ironman distance race, unless you are some type of freak of nature that can do all three sports at that distance without any training. I am sure there is that type of person out there, but I don't know any. Just my disclaimer