Step Out of Your Comfort Zone This Year
I love running marathons. It wasn’t always that way. For a long time I loved sitting on my sofa, watching TV. I still do to an extent, but I do it a lot less now. Now my spare time is filled with running, cycling and going to the gym. I don’t do it because anyone is making me do it, or because I think I should, I do it because I enjoy it and because I feel lucky to be able to.
My decision to spend less time on the sofa and more time moving my body happened 10 years ago. The decision to do it was easy to make, the doing it took a little while longer. Sitting on my sofa was where I was most comfortable (both literally and emotionally).
Nobody could see me sitting there night after night, nobody was going to judge me or look at what I was wearing. Stepping into a gym was a whole new territory for me. I didn’t know how the machines worked, what I should wear or what I should do once I was there, and I was too scared to ask anyone in case they realised that I didn’t belong there. I belonged back home, on my sofa, watching TV.
Looking back on those first few trips to the gym, the tentative experimenting with various gym equipment and the exhausting attempts at running on the treadmill, it feels as if that’s a whole different person to who I am now.
I’m a qualified run coach and personal trainer now, which means that as well as knowing how all those machines work, I know what they do to my body. But I also know that every person in any gym I walk into was new once. Every person has had that anxious feeling that everyone knows they’re out of place and that they’re about to be discovered as an unfit fraud who should just go home and sit on the sofa.
I’m glad I went to the gym that first day, and I’m glad I kept going back. That first visit has led me onto a different path. It took me away from my comfort zone on the sofa, and helped me keep running away from many others.
A couple of years ago I couldn’t swim. The idea of getting in a pool, putting my face in the water which would go up my nose and make it sting, and then pushing off from the side to where I couldn’t touch the bottom filled me with fear. It took a big leap of faith to turn up to my first swimming lesson. Just like that first trip to the gym, I had all the same anxious feelings. But I also knew that pushing out of where I felt comfortable would bring rewards, and it has.
I swam in a crystal clear lake in sardinia. I swam in a pond on Hampstead Heath, leaving the bustle of the city at the waters edge. I swam with 2,000 other thrashing bodies at the swim start of an Ironman. I swam non-stop in a reservoir for 3,800 metres.
When I find myself up against something that feels like a challenge, and I think about running away and retreating to where I feel comfortable, I remind myself that I did all those things. And that they all came from taking that first step away from what felt comfortable.
Take a step out of your comfort zone this year and train for your first 5k or a marathon. My training guides will show you how.