I realized something while running today. I went to the gym and wanted to run 3 miles without stopping at a good pace. This is easy for me in cool weather but unfortunately with this heat I have not been able to do it outside. Well, mentally, I thought I just couldn’t do it period, even inside on a treadmill, because it has just been awhile, but I told myself that I was going to do it, had a goal.
Midway into the run, I was tired, and wanted to stop. I was uncomfortable, and wanted to walk and drink some water, but I refused to let myself so I kept going. got to mile 2.5 and thought “it would be ok if I just walked for 10 seconds while I downed some water” but again, I refused to let myself. I was not happy. I was MISERABLE, bored, tired, hot, very sweaty, and wanted to quit. I kept up my speed and powered through the whole thing.
After, I walked for about 10 minutes just to cool off and do some thinking. From this workout, it’s very obvious I CAN run 3 miles without stopping, but it’s that UNCOMFORTABLE feeling I shy away from. As soon as it gets hard, I feel like I need to stop. There is a certain pace I feel like I could hold for hours, but one I push past that pace to go a little faster…it gets hard, and I want to quit. Of course, the key to getting better is pressing on through the uncomfortable pace until it BECOMES your comfortable pace, but let’s face it people, mentally that can be tough!
So I am putting together an “uncomfortable” plan of action. I am going to try to do more tempo runs, where I am holding a faster pace, but not for the whole run. Just in intervals so that I can boost my speed and my confidence at the same time, and hopefully those intervals will just get longer and longer. It’s amazing how mentally challenging running is. Now if I can just convince my head that my body can run a marathon, I will be good to go!

QOTD: What do you do to push yourself when you get to that uncomfortable pace?

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  1. I’ve been having a really hard time pushing myself past that uncomfortable point. Being new to running and preparing for my first half marathon I would rationalize it as “avoid injury” kind of thing. However, I’ve found that sometimes music really does help, I’ll tell myself “you just have to keep going through the rest of this song,” or using distance as the gage I’ll find myself thinking “phew, only half a mile left!”

    • those are both good ideas. SOmetimes I use landmarks, like, I can stop when I go past 10 more mailboxes, or that lamp post up there, etc. Good luck with your half, you can do it! it’s such a fun distance!

  2. I love this post 🙂

    I definitely think to see an improvement in speed or distance, you need to be uncomfortable. I kind of thrive on it now.

    I always remind myself that the discomfort is only temporary and I can do anything for 1 mile or 15 minutes, etc.

    Also, the treadmill is super-boring but it’s where I do most of my tempo runs and intervals, too. Since I can’t play with the speed, I play with the incline. I always leave it on a minimum of 1.0 incline. But I jack it up to 1.5, 2.0 or higher sometimes for a minute or tenth of a mile. These “intervals” really make time fly by.

  3. Ugh…”the un-comfort zone” 🙂 You go girl finishing that run! You’re so right–it’s totally mental.

    Also, I agree with Tiny (above)–music is such a motivator! A good playlist will get me through any treadmill workout! I think, “Just get through this song”…if the next song is also an upbeat one, I think, “Okay, just one more song…” and it keeps me going. Or, I’ll do intervals with my Ipod on shuffle–if the song is upbeat, I run fast. If the song is mid-tempo, I jog. If it’s kind of slow, I walk briskly on a higher incline. If I don’t like the song, I skip it. Just breaks up the workout for me.

  4. it’s funny….when i’m tired and stop for just 10-20 seconds, i run a MILLION times better when i start back up again! (weird how it only takes seconds to reprogram.) but i haven’t been pushing myself lately….unforunately. my right quad doesn’t want to cooperate lately. in theory though, if i could, i’d chose a faster song on the iPod to match my strides with. matching my strides makes running another million times easier 🙂

    • see thats what I usually do, stop for a few seconds, and then I do better, and while I will probbaly do that in a race b/c I will go faster, it makes me too comfortable in training if that makes sense.
      I need to put new songs on my ipod!

  5. May sound a bit silly, but I use mantra’s when I’m doing intervals or run races. When doing a hill workout where I have to keep up the pace, I’ll just repeat ‘I am the mountain’. When doing intervals, I repeat ‘Just another .5 mile and it ‘ll be over – the faster you run, the sooner it’s over’. And so on. It really works!

  6. c~o~u~r~t~n~e~y says:

    I like running to be relaxing, not uncomfortable, so I rarely push myself with pace. But when I do, it’s music that does it for me: “Galvanize” by The Chemical Brothers, “Halo” by Beyonce, “Four Minutes” by JT and Madonna, “Stronger” by Kanye, “Mississippi Girl” by Faith Hill, “Higher” by Matt Nathanson, “If You’re Going Through Hell” by Rodney Adkins (for the lyrics more than the beat), and “Fighter” by Christina Aguilera
    All of those are on my RUN FAST playlist =)

  7. When I get to that point, I start couting down how much more I have left to go. I tell myself I’ve already pushed myself x-miles, and I can definitely finish the last x-miles.

    One thing I do (if I’m running outside) is to pick an object in the far distance and stay focused on it until I get to it, by then, i’ve gone another 1/4 mile, then I repeat until I’ve finished.

  8. Hi! I found your blog through Skinny Runner – love reading about fellow runners! Anyway, as far as learning to push yourself, I have a suggestion. I am more of an endurance runner and distance junkie, so short, fast runs tend to make me feel like you described. One thing I have found is that running with people around me is a great motivator. I do group runs with a running club – super motivating and fun!!!!

    • hey! we have a “track club” but it’s really unorganized and not like a true running club sadly. Fleet feet does runs twice a week, but in order to be in their “program” you have to pay, and I just don’t know. Hopefully hubby will run with me more. But I agree, friends make it go so much faster!

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