Wikipedia describes the comfort zone as “a behavioral state within which a person operates in anxiety-neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviors to deliver a steady level of performance, usually without a sense of risk.” As athletes, it is very easy to fall into “comfort zones”, you have a set training pattern with set amount of intensity but you expect to gain results. This strategy will only at-best maintain your current fitness level.
“If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten. ” Anthony Robbins
Leaving your “comfort zone” is difficult and brings with it the perceived inevitability of failure. But failure in itself is not a bad thing; many of our greatest accomplishments began as failures. Has a baby ever begun walking without countless falls? Comfort zones are a blessing not a hindrance. They were engrained in our DNA long ago to teach us about fear, exhaustion, and success (amongst other things). Comfort Zones are not a cell to be trapped behind but a line for which we choose to cross to better ourselves as humans.
This brings us to me. I am John Taylor, and amongst other things, I am an Obstacle Course Racer. What does that mean? Well I run, jump, carry, crawl, swim and just about anything else that is asked of me at any particular race. My particular struggle with a “comfort zone” is running. I do not consider by any stretch of the imagination that I am a great, or even good runner (which is made worse by the fact that I race against world-class runners). So my solution to this is: I RUN. I run as much as possible, I run short, I run long, I run fresh, I run tired, I run sick, I run in the rain, I try to run in any condition other than ideal. I seek out great runners and try my hardest to keep up with them. Yes, I do complain and I do not enjoy this training, but I do them because I know they are outside of my comfort zone.
BANDERA. The word itself represents not a step but a giant leap outside of my comfort zone. Sitting with a couple world-class ultra runners about 6 months ago, I was challenged “You should do the Bandera 100k, it’s really HARD.” The Bandera 100k is a trail race covering 62 miles over some of Texas’s most brutal rocky terrain. So without thought, I signed up and began running more than I ever had before. I trained as best as I could and come race day I suffered more than in any other race to date, but in the end I completed the distance and am proud to call myself a Bandera 100k Finisher.
Whatever your fitness or athletic goals are, a better “you” exists just outside your comfort zone. Find a way to challenge yourself even in the smallest ways and you will be pleased with your results. Don’t fear leaving your comfort zone; instead be thankful that you have one!
This is a guest post by VPX Team Xtreme OCR Athlete John Taylor. John stands 6'2, 190lbs, is a 39 yr old MRI Physicist and father of 2 awesome kids! He is an Extreme OCR and Extreme Endurance Athlete and here are just a few of his accomplishments: 2 time Spartan Ultra Beast (2012/2013), Survival Run Nicaragua 2013, Survival Run Hunter/Gatherer, Bandera 100k, and 20+ OCR’s! Next up for John Taylor in February 2014 is the Nicaragua 75km Survival Run plus the 100km Fuego Y Agua Ultra-marathon in just a 3 day span.