QT: Getting Uncomfortable Can Lead to Greater Growth (Best Of-ish)

This post/episode was originally published in April of 2018. The following post/show notes are basically copy/pasted from the original post, but the audio is a new take on the subject.


I was listening to the Jocko Podcast awhile back, and he said something that really caught my attention.

He said that growth only happens when you step outside of your comfort zone.

Growth only happens when you go beyond what is comfortable to you.

Do you want to grow as a runner? Do you want to get faster? Run farther? Keep setting new PRs?

Then you better start getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, eh?

So Just Run Faster Then?

I hope that I’m making myself clear here.

If not, allow me to spoon feed you:

Making yourself uncomfortable in the pursuit of your running goals does not mean you should simply run faster in training.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s look at some actual places in your training where you may be a bit too comfortable and talk about how you can get uncomfortable in a hurry.

5 Places You Might be Too Comfortable

When it comes to trying to promote growth, you don’t want to go all willy-nilly to try and get uncomfortable.

The best things you can do is take an honest assessment of where you are as a runner, identify the areas where you are a bit too comfortable, and focus on one or two areas to go from nice and cozy to fricking miserable.

Do that? And you might be surprised how much growth you can see in a very short time.

Not sure where to start? I’ve got a couple of suggestions.

Stop Running at a “Meh” Pace

You know how I just said you shouldn’t just assume that running faster is the key to being uncomfortable and growing in our sport?

I’m about to walk back that idea just a little bit.

A lot of runners tend to run “meh” more often than not.

What do I mean? I mean, it’s not very hard, it’s not very easy, it’s just kind of meh.

Why do we tend to run men? Because it’s comfortable.

Going hard? That shit hurts!

But going legitimately easy? That just feels off most of the time.

So what do we do? We trend toward the middle. Toward comfortable.

If you aren’t seeing much of a gap between your normal pace, your easy runs, and your speed workouts, this is an area where you can see huge leaps by making yourself uncomfortable.

Learn to slow down on your easy days and push yourself to go hard AF on your speed days.

I don’t often make guarantees, but I promise you’ll be uncomfortable if you do this.

And you’ll see some serious growth as a result.

Pump Up the Volume

There’s something to be said for running more.

When was the last time you bumped up your overall training volume outside of the build for a race?

You want to get “better” as a runner? Run more.

Obviously, you should bump up your mileage intelligently.

But if your base mileage has basically been the same for the better part of a decade, then guess what? You’re comfortable.

How do you go about getting uncomfortable here?

Maybe you add another day of running to your regular weekly routine. Maybe you add an extra mile or two on each of your easy runs every week. Or maybe you focus on building up your floor to raise your ceiling.

There are plenty of options for adding a few more miles into your week here and there. You just have to actually do it.

Do the Little Things

Little Things Matter

You want to get better as a runner, so you’re supposed to run more right?

Yes, but not while skipping out on the little things that you need to be doing to supplement your growth as a runner.

Wait, you’re not regularly doing the little things right now?

Well maybe you should start there!

Look, the little things are important. Like, really fricking important.

So if you’re not doing them, for whatever reason, you need to start.

I don’t care what your excuse is, it doesn’t mattter.

  • You don’t have time? Find time.
  • You don’t know what to do? I’ve got resources available.
  • You don’t have a gym membership? No worries. You litereally need zero equipment to cover all your bases.

You know the real reason you’re not doing the little things? Because you are comfortable with your normal workout routine.

And that’s why you’re not seeing the growth that you should expect to see.

Hire a Coach

Need a coach? I know a guy…

Seriously though, as a coach I’m not a miracle worker.

Not even close.

But one of the things that I like to think I bring to the table is the ability to help push my clients outside of their comfort zone.

As runners, it’s easy to set goals for ourselves and now know the best way to go about getting from where we are to where we want to go.

As a coach, that is kind of my job.

So I put the plan in place and push my clients down the (sometimes) uncomfortable path that will help them get to where they want to go.

And the other good coaches that I know do exactly the same thing.

Want more info about my coaching services? Just click here.

Set. Bigger. Goals.

What are your running goals?

Are they big AF?

If not, maybe setting your sights a bit higher would be the kick in the pants that you need to keep moving in the right direction.

As we grow and evolve as runners, we need to remember to update our goals accordingly.

A year ago, maybe you had a goal of finishing your first marathon.

But after a couple of 26.2s, simply finishing a marathon isn’t that big of a deal to you anymore.

You’re comfortable with your ability to finish a race.

Time to set a new, and bigger goal.

Aim for a new PR. Maybe think about running an ultra. Set a goal to BQ.

Whatever it is, pick a goal that is scary to start working.

You might be surprised at what that will do for you…

It’s OK to Be Comfortable

I do want to make one thing clear before I end this post: it’s ok to be comfortable.

There’s nothing wrong with keeping things the way they are.

Shoot, you may even see some minimal growth in your running performance without veering out of your comfort zone.

But if you want to see some big growth, some major improvements, there is only one way to get there.

You have to consistently get outside of your comfort zone.

By definition, it won’t be easy and it may not always be fun.

But it works.


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How Have You Gotten Outside of Your Comfort Zone Recently?

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