Why You Should Make Your Running Uncomfortable
Reading time: 3 minute(s) - 500 words
I don’t mean wearing the wrong size trainers or other kit. I mean uncomfortable because you are pushing hard.
One thing I got wrong for a long time was not pushing hard enough. You have to get used to being uncomfortable. You have to get comfortable with that - or you do if you want to improve.
When you do your next run, aim to find a pace that you can only just hold on to. And then… hold on to it. For the whole run if you can.
The idea being: that uncomfortable pace will condition you to run faster. And we all want to run faster, right?
I spent many years running at the wrong pace. I focused on going the distance.
But I got worried when my breathing started to blow. I’d back off. Also, I was a little obsessed with running long distances. So I’d focus on that.
I was missing an important part of the equation, though.
Slogging my guts out for miles and miles wasn’t making me any fitter. And I wasn’t getting any faster.
Ramping up the intensity
I’ve spent the past 12 months running harder. I had to keep the distance down at first - I started by doing lots of 5K eyeballs out on stalks efforts.
In truth all I was doing was learning how to be uncomfortable - and keeping going.
It took a while, but it did start to work.
I also mixed in hill work. Running up them as hard as I could. I must have looked like a maniac puffing and blowing like a broken steam engine. But that helped too.
The only thing was: it didn’t take much for me to slip back to my safety mode.
Getting your head right
While I was hammering along on my run today I worked on being outside my own pain. It’s a simple trick, but it works. First, I relaxed. I made sure my head was up and I was taking in my surroundings.
Do what you can to take your mind off the hurt. Some folk listen to music. I know one runner who does maths equations in his head.
Whatever it takes.
But the point is always to get comfortable - while being uncomfortable.
I read back that last paragraph and saw something that needs emphasis. The ability to relax is vital. Or I think it is. When I’m pushing hard, I tell myself to keep calm, breath deep and enjoy it.
It seems to work.
Anyway, the point is: getting comfortable with running hard is a sure way to improve. There are some other factors too - I’ll get to those in upcoming posts.
Oh and make sure you don’t push so hard that you injure yourself.