Holding On To Uncomfortable: The Key To My Running

I recently realized why I am able to endure distance running.  It is often said that running requires a unique mindset.  My realization might just add proof to that theory.

The other day I was out for a run in the warm summer heat.  Lately I’ve had a few struggle runs and whenever it gets warmer, I tend to feel nervous about how things will go.  On this particular run, I made it to the halfway point and turned around feeling stronger than I had anticipated.  That is always a good feeling when you are uncertain of the outcome.

I started thinking about upcoming races that I haven’t signed up for.  There are two marathons this fall that had been on my radar, but due to work schedules, they aren’t going to happen.  There are also a few shorter races that I have been considering but the thought of them made me a bit anxious.
I started questioning why shorter distances make me so nervous compared to the half and full marathon.  I’m not ashamed to admit that the 5k is a distance I avoid.  I despise that race.  To me, it is a sprint.  I have a competitive mind when it comes to races (my husband would tell you that is also the case with many things in life).  As much as I try, it is incredibly difficult for me to just “run” a race.  I’ve attempted this during a 5k and the moment I start getting passed by young kids, I can’t help myself.
To race a 5k is in my mind, a mad dash.  It is 3.1 miles of fast running and feeling absolutely awful at the finish.  A 10k has a slightly better pace for me.
The half and full marathons are mentally easier for me because you can slow that pace a bit and settle in.  The key, I realized is that I’ve learned to learn to hold onto uncomfortable at that distance.
Running, in general, is an uncomfortable experience.  As you begin moving, your lungs work harder, you heart has to pump blood more efficiently, your muscles must do more.  Every cell in your body has to push more.  It is a taxing situation and it is uncomfortable.  It is hard!  
Learning to deal with the uncomfortable, to hold onto that feeling, and to move your mind away from that feeling is the key to enduring any distance.  You will likely always feel uncomfortable to some extent during running, but it will get easier.  That uncomfortable becomes more manageable.
Our minds are a vital tool in the sport of running.  Finding ways to hold onto that uncomfortable is the key to enduring.
How do you hold onto uncomfortable?

12 thoughts on “Holding On To Uncomfortable: The Key To My Running

  1. For me the quote by Haruki Murakami comes in very handy – “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” I applied this today during a long bike ride. After mile 40 I got saddle sore. So I told myself I could either focus on the discomfort and complain about it, or accept it, embrace it, and enjoy the ride. I did a fair bit of standing those final thirty miles but had a good ride. Thanks for this. I think I’ll do a post of my own on it!

    • I love a Haruki Murakami reference. Thank you so much for sharing this. Your experience is exactly what I’m talking about and so glad you helped share that it happens in all endurance sports. Love your positive mindset!

  2. You’ll appreciate this. I’m obviously a long-distance runner since I’ve done 44 half marathons and only 2 5k’s (one was with my daughter a few years ago). BUT I’m actually going to run my first solo 5k this September since my first one about 20 years ago. I’m very curious to see how it goes!

  3. I just read Susan Lacke’s memoir, “Life’s Too Short to go F*cking Slow.” She has a great line from her mentor, Carlos, who said that the pain was the best part because that’s how you know you’re alive. I’m learning how to embrace the pain. My previous attitude before was to simply endure it, but I think the next level is to embrace and be the pain.

    • That is awesome. I think you do have to embrace that pain in order to work towards your full potential. It’s hard but it is also such an amazing experience to see what you and your body can do and are capable of.

  4. AH this is so true! To me a 5k means pedal down from the beginning and no slowing at all. 5k in a long distance run is merely a good warm up zone letting me settle in for the long haul. I’m currently training for my second duathlon so I guess you can say I’ve learned to tolerate levels on being uncomfortable, especially on brick training days. It’s tough and it’s work, but it’s oh so satisfying in that place of being uncomfortable. Great post!

  5. Interesting post Sarah. I have run 5k’s that are a “fun run”, but I have never run a race that is a 5k. I do enjoy the long runs. Sometimes there is the uncomfortable, and at times like this I try and remind myself how fortunate I am to be able to run at 60 years old. Not everyone is that fortunate. Thank you for sharing Sarah!

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