I have mantras. Which is funny, because I’ve never been much of a “mantra” person. They seem too abstract and “wishful thinking” for me. I like physicality and results. But that’s stupid. Mantras are great, and as a coupling to the physical efforts of running, they are immeasurably valuable. Running, as has been said many times before, is probably as much mental as it is physical.
With a new job and new schedule for running, I found myself repeating the mantra, Never Get Comfortable, primarily when I wake up at 5:45 to get ready to run. Basically to get me out the door, but I’ve found it also extends to many other facets of running. Let’s talk about the great wall of getting out the door first.
At 5:45 am there are many reasons to NOT run. There is that absurdly heavy warmth of sleep embodied by a soft bed, leaded eyes and a temperature controlled house. There are the running shoes that have not yet been put on or the call to slowly ease into the day instead of the slap in the face that is training in the pitch dark. Yes, there is the comfort of all that. Which is why the best thing you can do is NEVER GET COMFORTABLE. For me, at least, it keeps me on my program.
The alarm goes off, the day’s first insult, and before the idea can even get in my head to slowly rise from slumber, I say to myself, “Don’t get comfortable.” And before I know it, the covers are off and I’m struggling to squeeze on my tights as I force myself awake and out the door. Once I’m up, I’m good. Once I fight the urge to relax and stay warm, I’m good. I WILL run. All it takes is getting uncomfortable, so I can get into the run, feel the rewards, and eliminate all potential regret of NOT running. It’s AFTER the run I can go back to being comfortable.
Then there is the comfort (relative, obviously) DURING the run. Mind you, this doesn’t apply to recovery/preparation days where you are supposed to be comfortable, but instead during workouts, during those moments that the strain of the effort seems too much to bear and all you desire is getting back to running “comfortably”, just enjoying the experience.
Yesterday I had a tough speed workout on my program. After 3 miles of warmup, I was to run 3 miles at Marathon Goal Pace, into 2 miles at 1/2 marathon pace, into 1 mile at 10k pace. That is HARD. It’s hard because even though the distances decrease further into the run, changing gears becomes that much harder as the accumulation of the effort builds and builds, so the last mile takes an incredible amount of physical and mental concentration, taking you into places that are the furthest thing from comfortable.
Admittedly, as I neared the end of the 2 miles at 1/2 marathon pace I started to doubt myself, doubt my ability to change gears, doubt my ability to run the entire last mile. I debated getting comfortable. The siren call of backing off and notching up the shortened workout to early training and prepping for the next day sang in my head, loudly.
Then I told myself. DON’T GET COMFORTABLE.
And I ran past the mile marker, doing whatever I could to change gears going into the last mile. And even after changing gears, the distance of that mile wore on me and I found myself almost instinctually backing off ever so slightly, letting my body run more smoothly, letting my legs turn over quickly but not AS quickly, and immediately I reminded myself, DON’T GET COMFORTABLE, instantly forcing my body into a state of tension and consciously quickening my leg turnover.
I ran the fastest mile of the session, despite not feeling as if I was holding on.
The mantra wins again.
Let’s face it, running is NOT comfortable. You can do it enough so that certain paces feel relatively “comfortable”, but the comfort of running will never compare to a soft bed, warm blanket and rested eyes.
However, the comforting feeling that comes from completing a run, beating through a seemingly impossible workout, or pushing past absurd limits is unparalleled.
Never Get Comfortable.