Yesterday was one of those days when I really, really didn’t want to run.
I had eaten a bunch of candy at work, I felt tired, and it was cold and rainy as I walked home from the park and ride. For the entire walk, I debated just skipping my five-mile run and spending the night cozied up on the couch with Aaron and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
Somehow I convinced myself to go. I think it was because I promised myself I’d take the easy route that goes down a big hill instead of up it.
But by the time I left, I figured if this was going to be a miserable run anyway, I might as well embrace the discomfort and take the uphill route.
As I ran the first few miles toward the base of the hill, I thought about discomfort. I hate it because I feel like it means I’m not fit enough to complete all my runs with ease, to lift weights with perfect form every time, or to do all the moves in barre without taking a break.
Discomfort means I’m not good enough.
Then I remembered a pair of women I saw running on the Lake Sammamish Trail last week. One woman was on the bigger side, and the other was clearly coaching her through the run. They were taking a walk break, then started running again just as I passed them. I heard the coach-type woman say, “Sometimes you have to be uncomfortable."
And it’s true. It’s easy to think that someone who runs faster than you has it easy, that they never feel discomfort. That they or you shouldn’t feel discomfort.
The truth is: If you are uncomfortable, you’re doing it right. It means you’re pushing yourself to be better.
Last night, I pushed myself to not only run up the big hill, but to do it without stopping. I started this training cycle having to take three 45-second walk breaks up the hill. Eventually I was able to only take two breaks, and last week, one.
Running up the hill last night was still uncomfortable, but I told myself that was good. I was doing it right.
And you know what? I made it all the way up without walking. I had even promised myself I could walk once I got to the top, but found that I didn’t need to. I was ecstatic. It was one of the best runs I’ve had in a while.
I almost didn’t run because of silly reasons: candy, rain, and my cozy couch. I don’t hesitate to take a rest day when I really need to, but I know the difference between when I genuinely feel burned out and when I’m just making excuses.
It would have been such a shame to miss out on an amazing experience because I wanted to be comfortable. I’ll remember that the next time I desperately don’t want to run.
And I’ll remember the triumph I felt at the top of the hill the next time I feel uncomfortable.