We run so we can step into the territory that we usually avoid. We can see if there are dragons, and if there are, slay them. ~Deb Leathers
When explorers ventured off the European mainland they would have to bring a cartographer, a map maker, along who was to plot out the new locations and place them on a map in relationship to known locales. For an area that was not explored the cartographer would embellish the map with images of sea monsters and dragons to warn future explorers that this area is unknown and the unknown is to be feared because here be dragons.
The mythology that surrounds this phrase is may be a bit suspect but it’s application is definitely universal. One of the things we seek to do as humans is increase our comfort level, whatever that level may be, we create that comfort through power, information, material things, or relationships. These are all environmental factors that we have mapped out in our lives and established a knowledge of what we amount of each we are comfortable with and that comfort zone is where we tend to live our lives.
My early family life was a two parent household with two older brothers. It was a safe place most of the time peppered with outbursts of fighting from my parents. As the youngest, I grew up during the most tumultuous period of my parents’s marriage. Their arguments would start as quiet whispers in their room that would then simmer into biting words over meals until after an hour or two my father would explode–there would be yelling, he would feel bad, apologize to her and the cycle would start again. There was no room for me in this cycle. I was a overly cautious kid, fearful of hurting myself. These fears delayed my learning how to swim and how to ride a bike. This delay ran slap counter to my older brothers and so my parents didn’t know how to deal with it. I have this memory of riding my bike in the backyard and my mom telling me to take it into the street, but I was afraid. I told her I didn’t want to because if I fell I’d get hurt and she became so exasperated she turned her back, saying “Fine. Then don’t.” And she never came back out. From that point on I was never pushed and I simply stayed at home watching my parents relationship implode. My mom was a great stress eater and I learned from watching her. Activity was not my outlet–ice cream was, and I used it to build the foundations of a comfort zone that would protect me for the rest of my life.
When I became a runner and starting my weight loss journey, I was in my earlier forties, and my life had become too comfortable. Maybe comfortable is the wrong word. Because I wasn’t comfortable with my place in my environment–I was complacent. I had been unconcerned with my every growing appearance and I had no real goals for my future. But running forced me to examine my life and helped in the refurnishing of my comfort zone because it motivated me to set goals.
My early goals were simply to finish races, and so within the first year of my running I had accomplished that task for every race I signed up for from 5K to half marathon. My next goals focused on completing longer runs without having to walk, learning to pace myself and developing more mental strength.
After hitting my 100 lb lost goal in 2014, my goals became more focused on what can this body do. So that brings me to today. I’ve had a year of PR’s for every distance race I’ve run this year from 5K to half marathon, and part of that accomplishment is because now I’m working on training my mind.
Training my mind has been the hardest thing to do because my mind houses the memories of what I used to be, of how I used to look and how fearful I was. And there are times on a run that I start thinking about how hard the race is becoming and my mind fills with negative thoughts. To combat these thoughts I have been working on my focus during a race. I have found in all of my races this year that my focus, even in long races, make the difference between finishing with a PR and just finishing. The longer the race the more difficult this process is, and it is something that feels daunting to me especially as I have set this Boston goal for myself.
I realize that my comfort zone is continually in a state of flux as each success and failure help me broaden it’s walls. I know that during this experience there are going to be times that I don’t want to leave my comfort zone but I realize……
If you want to do something, or become something, eventually you have to move forward in spite of whatever conditions are challenging you. The only other alternative is retreat, and when it comes to the things that really matter, that’s not an alternative at all.~Dave Griffin
I need to return to my earlier story about my back yard bike riding. After my mom went into the house, I remember sitting down on the back steps and cried. She was not returning and I was hurt by this, but looking back now, I’m not sure that’s why I was crying. I was at war with myself because I was scared of the unknown. In my mental map the street was filled with dragons and I did not think I would survive them. Thankfully, something clicked in me. I pushed the tears away from my face, I got on my bike and rode up the driveway into the street and in a few petals I was at the flying down my street the wind in my face and feeling like I was free.
That feeling may be why I love running so much. It reminds me of the first time I took a risk on my own. In my comfort zone there’s a picture of myself on a bike to remind me of the day I ventured into the land of dragons and survived.
My training plan this week: Tapering leading to the 72 mile River to sea Relay where I’ll be running around 12 miles.
|Chestday||5 Miles Fartlek (3min/3min)||Back/Bis||5 miles
|Rest||Rest||River 2 Sea