Yesterday, as I sat in my bathtub, waist-deep in freezing cold water, soaking my exhausted legs, I looked back upon that mornings 20 mile training run and basked in the sweet, blissful contentment of completing it.
I smiled to myself knowingly, for only hours earlier, my mood had been very different.
At mile 13, I had stopped to rest in the cool shadows of a giant tree in the park. I was tired, sweating, desperately gulping down water whilst wrestling with thoughts such as, “If you give up and go home now, no-one will know, or care”. My legs were aching and I was hot. Too hot. My pace had been all over the place and the miles were passing extremely slowly – each step that I took felt like my running trainers were laced with lead. I had been stalling every few miles or so, deliberately procrastinating; checking my phone for messages, re-tying my shoelaces and standing, hands on hips, staring at the dusty path ahead of me. It just seemed so very daunting. Runners and cyclists had whizzed past me and I felt angry at them for having the energy and enthusiasm that I was lacking. Now, standing under the tree, it was time to face up to the option of whether to keep going or go home.
I kept going.
What I described above is a common thought-process when I train, and I have become quite accustomed to my defiant justifications as to why I should stop what I am doing. The thing is, I never do. I never stop. Why? Because I have learnt that the more I push myself out of my comfort zone, despite feeling uncomfortable, the more I eventually start to enjoy my run, the more miles I master and the better I feel. There’s nothing more fulfilling than the knowledge that you could have given up, but you didn’t.
It’s a great feeling, right?
Recently, I’ve noticed that this way of thinking has started to trickle into other areas of my life, too.
Let me give you an example.
Last week, I was invited for dinner at a friend’s house in East London. Although it is easier, (and far less complicated and time-consuming) to drive straight to her house, I always opt to navigate a complex myriad of tubes and trains instead. Why? Because I’m terrified of driving through central London. On this particular occasion, however, I decided that I would just drive. Simple as that. I didn’t even give it much thought. I just made the decision to drive and that was it. I really surprised myself. Even when I was sat at a red traffic light in my little car, right underneath Big Ben, freaking out and shouting out loud, “OH MY GOD, I’m at a red traffic light right underneath Big Ben! Big Ben! Wow! I’m driving in Central London”. I was ok. Why? Because I was pushing myself way out of my comfort zone, and when I do that, despite feeling uncomfortable, the more I achieve, the happier I feel and the more I LIVE my life.
It really is a beautifully refreshing feeling to know that you challenged yourself and grew, spiritually, mentally and physically, as a result, isn’t it?