For a long time I stuck to what was safe—what I knew I was good at. I stayed quiet when conflict arose and I avoided being uncomfortable. Over the years I’ve realized that on the edge of discomfort is real change—the kind of change that molds us into better people. Now I have a tendency to seek out those uncomfortable situations expecting to discover something new about myself.
There are some situations that are almost painfully uncomfortable, like speaking truth to a family member or friend, or leaving a job for a new adventure. Those instances of change are hard—really hard. Sometimes those uncomfortable situations become a little easier when we push ourselves in other areas, which is what running does for me. It’s a chance to ‘safely’ step out into discomfort—to challenge my body, mind and heart and see what happens.
Pushing my body to its physical limits and trying new things keep me on that edge of discomfort and self discovery. Over the past few years I’ve stepped off the road in the winter and have started snowshoe running. It was a chance to mix things up, get uncomfortable and find out how I would show up in those uncomfortable situations. And what I’ve learned from this endeavor applies not just to running, but to life:
Let Go Of Expectations
Often, your expectations get in the way of finding joy in things we do. When I first started snowshoe running I had no expectations, unlike running on the roads where I expected to run xx:xx times for specific distances. The terrain is so varied and difficult and the conditions so different—you could run a certain time on a course one year in 3 inches of snow and then face 12 inches of snow on the same course then next year—you cannot possibly translate road paces to snowshoe running. When you’re headed into an uncomfortable situation, let go of your expectations, you’ll open yourself up to finding joy in every challenging aspect of the situation.
Get Comfortable With The Unknown
It can be hard to be the “newbie,” to head into a situation where you don’t feel competent and have no idea how you will do. Becoming uncomfortable with the unknown and embracing the factors that are beyond your control, is truly one of the best ways to discover strength inside yourself that you didn’t know was there. When I started snowshoe running i knew nothing, figured it out as I went, asked questions and found that I was a lot stronger than I’d previously thought myself to be.
Find The Joy
With all its struggles and difficulties, life is meant to be filled with joy. It may not seem like it is at times, but finding joy in the difficult and uncomfortable moments is what allows us to conquer them and move forward. Snowshoe running was uncomfortable and challenging for me, but ultimately it was fun!
I’ll never be the fastest. I’ll never win an Olympic medal. But if I don’t constantly push into myself to be faster, to try new things, to be better than I am today then I won’t meet and overcome the resistance of discomfort—I won’t ever change.