When I got ready to run this morning it took a minute for the temperature outside to really sink in. It felt like almost exactly 40 degrees colder than it did on our run on Monday morning. The wind dropped the “real feel” down to 24 degrees. I questioned my clothing plan for the run, but then remembered to lean into the discomfort. Next thing I knew I was out the door with only a light shirt, light jacket, and a pair of shorts.
Something crazy happened on the run. I wasn’t cold. By the end of the run I felt pretty great. I wasn’t sweaty like normal, but I was wasn’t uncomfortable in the least bit. Quite the contrary, it was a fantastic run. The entire time I was more aware of the environment, I could feel the cold air on my legs and yet they felt warm (or maybe I was going hypothermic, but I digress…). Regardless, the run turned out to be a very joyful one. Had I gone with my “normal” I would’ve felt cold at the beginning, probably grumbled to myself, and then been a sweaty mess by the end. The run was incredibly invigorating and left me feeling awesome!
After the run I laid down and wen through my breathing practice for the next 15-20 minutes or so. In doing that I’ve been focused on doing forty deep inhales and exhales and then holding my breath as long as I can. Four rounds of that later and I’m feeling even more refreshed and plugged in. Today I could feel the burning sensation in my lungs letting me know that they were ready for air, but instead of inhaling I pinched my nose closed. Though it felt very uncomfortable I was able to push myself through to get a longer hold than I would have. Once I was done with all four rounds and checked my times I realized that I’d just set a new personal record for holding my breath, just shy of two and a half minutes! Not too shabby for someone who hadn’t been able to go even a full minute just a couple of weeks back.
After the breath practice I decided to go full cold shower instead of easing my way into it. I did it yesterday as well, but I never actually settled in and ended up taking about the quickest shower of my life. I grabbed my phone, fired up the perfect “lose myself” song (Rose Tattoo by The Dropkick Murphy’s), turned the water on to freezing cold, and jumped in. In an instant my lungs gasped for air and I felt a slight state of shock. In just a few seconds I got my breathing back under control. In less than 15 seconds I was in the zone and feeling great. Once past that initial discomfort I ended up taking the longest cold shower of my life, well over four minutes.
Each time I push myself past the discomfort I’m rewarded and punished. It’s really a weird dichotomy.
I’m rewarded with realizing that I’d just done something that I’d never done before. I’d grown, I’d persevered, and I reached a new high. By pushing myself and learning through my suffering, embracing the suffering, and using the suffering as fuel I did something I’d never done before. Not only had I done it, but I survived and was smiling through it.
I’m punished with the realization that I could have gone just a little longer. I’d pushed myself, but I could’ve gone just a little further. Could I have just worn the light shirt and no jacket and been fine on my run? Yes. Could I have held my breath for just one second (or more) longer? Yes. Could I have stayed in the cold water longer, taken less time to get past the shock, or even added ice to the tub? Yes. Did I truly give my 100% in each case? No. My punishment is knowing that I didn’t push myself truly to, or past, the edge. I let fear and discomfort ultimately get the best of me.
All of this means that to keep growing I have more distance to travel, more suffering to take on, and more work to put in. Sure, there’s this weird feeling of realizing that I didn’t reach my full potential, but it is significantly outweighed by my gratitude for having another opportunity to push myself further tomorrow. It leaves me hungry for growth and the opportunity to improve and be a little better tomorrow than I was today. Growth has been made, growth is possible, and growth will happen.
When I find myself comfortable I need to remember times like today. So much greatness and awesomeness lays just beyond the discomfort.