What Running Taught Me About Being Uncomfortable

Written by: Jorinde Berben
Image credit: Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

It’s week 6 of our running program, which I briefly mentioned in this previous post, and we’re still keeping it up! Yay for us!
Apart from improving my stamina, it has already taught me a lot of valuable lessons as well. That’s the thing about running, right? It gives you time to think.

So here are some of my top take-aways:

  1. I’ve learned that it’s easier to have a partner beside you when you’re tackling difficult things. Whether it’s those first 5 minutes of a run, or processing difficult feelings; it’s just easier when you can share it. Does that seem too self-evident to mention? Think of the hard things you still try to do on your own and ask yourself how you could lean on someone to make them easier to bear. And think of the ways in which you could support someone in the hard stuff they are taking on.
  2. Another lesson I learned is that outside conditions play a role, but your gear matters more. If you can choose your environment, you can go and select those optimal conditions (a cool, sunny day in the forest). If it’s going to rain all day or you’re pressed for time, grab a rain jacket and just face those drops and the gray asphalt.
  3. The most important thing I’ve learned, however, is how to rest in my discomfort. I’m learning how to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. I know when I start running, that the first minutes won’t feel the best. This could be the first 3 minutes when I’m well rested, or the first 10 when I’ve had a rough week. The aches have become predictable and the nagging in my head, saying I would rather eat potato chips than run, is a familiar backing vocal to my inner motivational voice.

By now, I know that this feeling doesn’t last. My body just needs time to adjust to this new reality, and it needs time to get comfortable with it.
There are many situations in my life that echo this pattern: from learning how to survive as a divorced parent, to adjusting to a new group of students every two months or teaching a course I’ve never taught before. And in my relationship with my partner, it takes a very deliberate approach of sometimes opening myself up a little more than I feel 100% comfortable with, in order for me to grow in love.

Each time I conquer my discomfort, I gain more freedom. I learn to trust myself more and prepare myself for taking on the work that is ahead of me and that may challenge me. It’s no longer just about that 5 km run. It’s about so much more!
It’s about the course to become a life coach I just signed up for even though I’m afraid I’m already too busy. It’s about starting that business with my partner and not knowing where it will take me. It’s about showing myself when I have no control over the consequences and other people’s opinions.

“In a world that wants us to walk around like representatives of ourselves, being yourself can be a revolutionary act.”

Luvvie Ajayi

Not just to the world around us, but to ourselves as well.

This doesn’t stop with your own life. Being comfortable with discomfort can encourage you to stand up for those who are pushed down, to speak up when your silence is more appreciated and to trust that, even if things turn out bad, you have yourself and others to fall back on. Feeling uncomfortable is the only road to true change.

The TED-talk by Luvvie Ajayi is a beautiful example of how courage is key to the better world we all want to see. Enjoy!

2 thoughts on “What Running Taught Me About Being Uncomfortable

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