Comfort Zones and Challenging Beliefs

Winter running

I’ve spent the last five years or so saying how much I hate winter running. I hate being cold. I hate slushy, slippery sidewalks. I hate being cold. I hate getting out in the dark of the morning. I hate being cold.

By the way, did I mention that I hate being cold?

This year when January hit, I set myself a list of goals and resolutions for the upcoming year. One of them was to run at least 1,000 km in 2014. I’ve never set a mileage goal like that before, and I thought it would be a good way to challenge myself a bit, since I seemed to struggle somewhat in the running department in 2013.

I knew that running 1,000 km meant that I couldn’t take three months + off from running like I’ve been doing these past several years. That left me with only one choice: dragging my ass out in the dark and the could and suffering through winter running. And so that’s what I’ve been doing.

Something that I’ve been slowly realizing over these past six weeks or so,  that finally hit me square in the face this morning as I was hitting the streets in -17 degree windchill (that’s about 1 degree Farenheit for my non-Canadian friends), is this:

I don’t hate winter running.

Sure, it’s not my favourite condition for running. But I’ve been enjoying the fresh cold air and watching the mornings slowly get lighter and lighter. The worst thing about the cold is the thought of it more than the actual reality. I’ve been so busy telling myself that I hate winter running for the past 5+ years that I haven’t taken the time to decide if that’s how I really feel.

The thing is, we all hold beliefs about ourselves. We tell ourselves that we’re unattractive. That we don’t like “healthy food”. That we can’t lose weight or be healthy. That we aren’t athletes. That we can’t change _______(insert whatever undesirable quality we have).

We cling to these beliefs because holding onto them serves a purpose. It keeps us firmly planted in our comfort zones. If I didn’t challenge my belief about winter running then I could keep myself hunkered down in my warm cozy bed every morning. I wouldn’t have to risk being uncomfortable.

But here’s what else I know about comfort zones. Sure, they’re comfortable, but they also keep us from growing and getting better.

I know for a fact that I am stronger and in better shape this January compared to last January. I’m getting out there and putting in the miles. My body is happier and healthier for it. Sure, I don’t get to spend that extra time snoozing and snuggling with my husband, but that’s not going to make me a better runner, now is it?

We all enjoy our comfort zones. And sure, they’re good for a while. They’re safe…and sometimes we need that safety and security in our lives. The problem with comfort zones is that though they may be safe, they also hold us back. And if you ask me, success as a human being isn’t about being comfortable and being safe all the time, it’s about reaching and stretching and doing better and learning.

So wherever our comfort zones are, it’s important to try and break out of them every once in a while. Challenge those beliefs about ourselves that are only holding us back. This year I’ve learned that I don’t really hate winter running after all. And heck, if I can learn that, them I’m sure there are a whole lot of other beliefs I’m clinging to that are holding me back as well.

What if we all started letting go of our negative beliefs?

2 Responses

  1. I completely agree with you on this. Especially your example of winter running. I used to hate running in the cold and while I do not run all of my runs outside, I DO try to do at least once a week and it is always such a good run and I love the fresh air and roads vs the mill.

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