pushing past comfortable

[I wrote this several months ago.  Now I am in training for my first full length marathon.]

Yesterday, a friend and I ran 13.1 miles.
(Which involved getting up at 3:30 am to drive to a drop point on the other side of town in order to be bused to the way-out-there start-lines, where we stood huddled in the cold and dark, clustered around heat lamps with all the other participants until it was finally time to start the race. /Whew!)

My plan/goal was just to finish. I was thinking of keeping a nice slow pace (“la-la-dee-dah”) and breezing into the finish having accomplished merely running father than I previously have.

My friend, however, was in this to push hard and make a time goal.

So we found ourselves running at a nice stiff pace that I usually reserve for much shorter distances. I kept thinking we’d eventually slow down, but the miles flew past and we kept that pace like clockwork. The last two miles, pushing to the end of our limits I was SURE we’d slow down, but still we kept that pace. (It was NOT comfortable at this point.) And then finally the homestretch and a sprint to the finish, and zohMyGAWD that hurt SO MUCH!!… But we did it.

It made me realize how much I hold back, satisfied to stay in comfortable safe areas, when actually I have the capability to push farther/harder/faster. This, not just in running. In personal relationships and my professional life as well.

It’s a fairly straightforward thing to pick up the running pace a bit. Not so simple to explain what that means in personal and professional aspects of my life, but it’s something I am thinking about.

There is this: I would NOT have kept up that pace if I had not had my friend next to me, motivating me, encouraging me. (Thank you Katy.)

Meanwhile… My knees and my quads are ANGRY at me for keeping that less-comfortable pace. Ice packs and ibuprofen are helping.

[Here, here and here are the posts chronicling the building of my active life.]


  1. Thanks for this. I just came across a comment by Joseph Campbell that’s sticking in my mind, “The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.” I suppose that hearty yes requires crossing the threshhold of comfortable more often than is . . . comfortable . . .

  2. I recommend you read “The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy to apply this to all aspects of your life. It is an eye opener. I think you will love it! It is helping me in all areas of my life as you mention. Inspiring!

  3. G – congrats on training for your first full – good luck. I love how running has the potential to connect us with our bodies and provoke us to think about the bigger picture. I love it when life proves us more capable than we give ourselves credit.

    Last marathon I ran in October I went out uncomfortably strong, kept up the exact pace for 24 miles only to hit the wall, degrading myself to a near walking pace and a caustic attitude as I crossed the finish line. I think the lesson learned was push, but listen to yourself along the way and make adjustments. Don’t be afraid to change pace when needed. Adjust for hills.
    Thanks for sharing!

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