How to get Comfortable with Discomfort

By Hayden Shearman

This is one of the holy grails of running success: can you learn to be comfortable despite experiencing discomfort?

Understand the Different Degrees of Discomfort: If you’ve ever walked with a two-year-old, you would have experienced their abundant energy at the start only to hit rock bottom, petrol light on, running on fumes, full on tantrum just 200 metres into the walk. So, it’s easy to understand how learning to deal with different degrees of discomfort comes as we mature.

We know a five-minute walk won’t kill us, but that two-year-old needs some practise, testing out the waters to see how much walking intensity they can handle. We do the same with our running training, gradually introducing our bodies to ever greater degrees of intensity and discomfort.

Spend Time in the Shallows: Likewise, if you’ve seen kids run a school cross country, they typically have two speeds: all out at the start (and a little at the end) and plodding in-between. But as we mature as runners we spend time at many different gears, we experience them gradually and get used to them in shallow water before we dive head on into the deep end when it’s time to race.

This is why it’s so important to regularly have workouts that test us mentally, but also not to let them get too heavy or else we find ourselves (or our bodies through injury and over training) throwing a tantrum from too much discomfort, too soon.

Find a Purpose: If you have something to run for you will find that strength and perseverance to go to dark places. If you’re chasing a certain time, or trying to achieve a certain level of fitness or running for a charity or a loved one, you will be way more motivated to go to the well regularly in training.

So, be encouraged to ask yourself what spins your wheels when you’re running. And if nothing comes to mind, why not set out some goals, choose a race or find a charity or cause to run for?

May you forever be comfortable in your discomfort!