Last Monday, I ran 10 miles for the first time in 2014. I devoured the Gatorade chews I brought along with me, guzzled the water that my left hand was downright cramping to carry, and somehow made it to double digits for the first time in nearly 5 months.
And then I spent the rest of the day dead to the world.
My energy levels were not the same for days. No matter what I did, no matter what I ate, I always felt like I was in a state of ketosis, and my limbs were moving through molasses. I've been here before: up the mileage and your body has no clue how to respond.
Cut to this week. As part of my training schedule, I do a mild jog and a somewhat-easy run. Today, I was scheduled to run at least 8 miles.
To say I didn't want to do it is an understatement. I looked at my running shoes and immediately felt exhausted. It really had me reevaluate everything. Why am I even doing this in the first place? Just half-marathon (re)training takes up so much of my time. Even on "short" days, when you factor in getting ready, warming up, running, cooling down, and showering, you're talking at least two hours cut from your daylight hours. On longer days? More like four.
But I was reminded of something an MMA fighter posted on his Twitter: success happens outside of your comfort zone. Resting on your laurels is all good and fine, but you won't get anywhere. You take no risks, you make no sacrifices, you get no where. Instead, you do things, even when it is purely out of obligation, because you have blind faith that this will help you get you where you need to be. You talk to people you might not feel comfortable talking to. You present projects that make you lose sleep at night. All because you have this incredible set of goals and nothing is going to stop you.
I remember saying a while back that I don't think I'm particularly good at self-motivating. I just think I'm good at telling myself that it's not a choice. And, when it comes to getting what you desire, stepping out of your comfort zone is not a choice. Sometimes you have to put yourself in those situations that make you uncomfortable, that make you doubt yourself and your abilities, in order to take just one more step closer.
So I laced up my shoes, went on my run, and came back with a solid 8.5 miles under my belt. I cooled down, stretched, cleaned up, and had lunch, but without the "dead to the world" feeling like I had with the 10-miler. And, not even 8 or 9 months ago, a 6-mile run would've sent me into a semi-coma. I remember downright wanting to cry when I hit 9 miles for the first time. Likewise, I remember nearly choking on my own spit when I queried my first agent. Or when I submitted my first essay. Or when I agreed to read a collection of essays about my time as a model and realized that I had absolutely no idea how to start such an endeavor.
It's not just success that happens outside of your comfort zone. Life happens outside of your comfort zone. Plain and simple.