Why You Need To Get Outside Your Comfort Zone

Have you got a big race coming up? Are you feeling nervous? Are you starting to wonder why you entered?

I have had conversations recently with a few of my physio patients who have signed up for their first ever Ultra-Trail Australia 100. They have all done at least one 50k event before, but the jump from 50k to 100k is a huge one, so they are starting to get the jitters.

"I don't know if I'm ready"

"I wish I had another month to train"

"I'm not sure if I can actually do 100k"

"I should have just done the 50k again"

These are normal thoughts. They can be helpful. But they can also be unhelpful. It depends on how you decide to frame it in your head.

If you feel nervous, that is because running 100km is outside your comfort zone. You might not realise it, but that is why you are actually doing it. Is is also the exact reason that you should do it.

If everything you did was easy and comfortable, then you wouldn't learn much about yourself. 95%+ of the Western World live inside their comfort zone and look what that is resulting in! Poor Health, Depression . . .

Sticking to your comfort zone is a ticket to ill-health and boredom. Getting outside it is when the good stuff happens - it just hurts a little bit along the way.

Starting a race that you're not sure if you can finish is scary. It is also exciting, and it can be hugely rewarding. If you do manage to finish, it can give you a sense of pride and satisfaction that is hard to describe.

If you don't manage to finish, then at least you started, which is a million times more beneficial and rewarding than not having started at all. You will have learned something about yourself, and you can hopefully use that to try again next year, or perhaps to take on a new and different challenge.

Pushing the "comfort zone" envelope doesn't have to be about the distance.

It could be trying to beat your current 10k PB.

It could be applying for a new job because you are not 100% happy with your current one.

It could be deciding to travel to a different country that you haven't been to before.

It could be standing up in front of a group and doing some public speaking for the first time.

If you get outside your comfort zone once, it will make you more likely to be capable of doing it again, and again, and again.

Embracing discomfort is where growth happens. It builds strength, fosters happiness and invigorates the spirit. It leads to a more fulfilling life.

You shouldn't try to live your whole life outside your comfort zone, that would also cause health problems, but you should definitely dabble with it on a fairly regular basis. At least once or twice a year you should do something that makes you squirm. At least just a little bit.

If you keep doing that, then your comfort zone will grow bigger, and you will ultimately be capable of doing and experiencing even more.

So. You are allowed to be nervous. You are allowed to worry. You are allowed to wish that you hadn't entered.

BUT - you do have to turn up to the start line just to see what happens. It could be good, it could be bad, but either way it will be a million times better for you than not starting at all.

Good luck to everyone who is doing something uncomfortable.