Who Needs a Comfort Zone Anyway?

By , May 13, 2015

Preparing for this race I have pushed my comfort zone in so many ways I wasn’t sure it even existed anymore. It obviously started with swimming, but it has extended to so many other areas like the number of hours each week in the saddle, running on a treadmill, even into the amount and types of food I eat each week, and the number of hours of sleep I get. I’m not even sure I remember what comfortable is, and that’s how I know things are exactly as they should be.

The thing about pushing your comfort zone is that you find new ways to be comfortable as you adjust to the new levels and the new routines. It’s amazing. To the point that when I’m not working out, or something comes up and I need to postpone or skip a workout, that makes me surprisingly uncomfortable. Talk about a flipping things upside down!

This is why last week I was shocked when my comfort zone got trampled…again. Just when I thought that I was comfortable in my discomfort, that I had hit my rhythm with the preparations left to complete, with the race day still ahead, the rising temperatures, and my bike setup, my comfort zone (which I was convinced was no longer contained) got rocked with the latest obstacle: a work trip to Asia June 7-12. The week before the race.

Where else would I want to be two days before the race?

Where else would I want to be two days before the race?

Part of me wanted to laugh, part of me wanted to cry. At first I thought it would be impossible to actually get back in time for the race. I ignored the email and didn’t even think about booking for four days as I waited for my comfort zone to adjust yet again. I didn’t mention it to a single soul, or even dare whisper it under my breath. But resisting the discomfort or ignoring it only makes it worst, whereas accepting and embracing it allows you to re-establish control and regain comfort. After all, embracing discomfort has got me this far in my preparations!

When I asked a past competitor what they thought about 36 hours between landing and the starting gun they said compassionately “it’s what the pros do!”.  Not sure that’s exactly true, and I’m a far cry from a pro, but it would be a taper week with little training. I normally adjust to travel well and maybe jet lag would help. It would be a good way to not obsess about the race details for the week before. I had similar travel plans for the marathon.

It was on the fifth day I finally discussed options with my boss (who is an incredible athlete), talked to my wife (my #1 supporter), called in my mom (because she is my mom) to help at home, and booked my ticket. At this point, I say why not. My comfort zone went out the window when accepted this challenge, and after all, who needs a comfort zone anyway?