I was talking to a group last night about breaking out of our routines and doing things that open you up to more growth and more opportunities. Sometimes the very things we dread are the things that are going to make the most impact in our training or even in our lives.
I shared with them the story of how a lady named Jenna. Jenna was apparently not really an outdoors type of person. Hiking wasn’t one of her things, but she was constantly being hounded by her boyfriend to go hiking with him. My understanding is that he was the outdoors type. I assume he was into hunting, fishing, hiking and all that stuff. With Jenna not matching up perfectly with his personality I am sure that created conflict from time to time.
Jenna’s boyfriend kept harassing her about going hiking to see a sunrise. Now to many of us that may seem like an amazing thing. Seeing the sunrise from a mountaintop and being one with nature, I would jump on that opportunity. Jenna on the other hand was less than enthused. Jenna saw it as getting up at 4am and hiking up hill in the cold to see a sunrise that happens 365 times a year. Not something special and not something she was interested in.
Now being a good girlfriend, and I assume after much begging from him, Jenna agreed and they set a date. The early morning hike in Acadia National Park in Maine led Jenna and Henry to a mountaintop where they saw a sunrise at a place where the sun basically hits the United States of America for the first time each day. And that’s where Henry asked Jenna to marry him. The place where the sun first hits the United States each day was a fitting place for Henry to pop the question, because Jenna’s father was President George W. Bush. The freezing early-morning hike that Jenna took even though it seemed hard turned out to be the proposal moment she had dreamed of her entire life.
My point is that sometimes the very thing that we dread the most will have the most impact. When we get out of our comfort zone, we can really make changes. In training for my first half marathon last year I was really struggling with gaining endurance. I was convinced to do some speed work by a friend and things started changing. I had a routine of long and short runs that where giving me the comfort of knowing that I could finish the race, but I wasn’t going to finish without walking. I wasn’t looking to be extremely fast and I really struggled with running hard anyway so the idea of a speed workout was the last thing on my mind. I didn’t need speed…I needed more endurance.
During that speed workout I was doing 1 or 2 laps around a track as fast as possible. I figured out that I could push myself harder than I thought for that shorter distance and my legs and lungs would recover pretty quick for the next one. My next long run I realized that applied to hills as well. It may hurt bad getting up the hill, but my legs and lungs recovered quick and I could keep going. Soon after that I quit walking on my long runs.
My training took a turn because I broke my routine and did something that seemed hard and I didn’t want to do. That same lesson can apply to every aspect of your life. Look for opportunities to break your routine. Even if that means you have to do something that seems out of your comfort zone. Because as we all know, you never grow stronger when you are in your comfort zone.