Courage over Comfort

“We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time.” ~Brene Brown

At the beginning of 2016, I thought “believe” would be my 2016 word. As 2016 has gotten underway, my 2016 word has evolved into the word “Courage,” which is the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous. Believe is still an underlying theme of courage for me, but there are so many other areas of my life that require courage as well. Over the last couple of months, the word courage has evolved into the phrase “Courage Over Comfort,” which has gotten me through multiple challenges in all aspects of life so far in 2016.

Courage over Comfort in my relationships

The Iron Hippie and I have a great relationship, but like any couple, we do have our differences and disagreements. Being vulnerable by sharing my thoughts and feelings in a new and different way is hard and takes a lot of courage, but it will be worth it when this uncomfortable method becomes “comfortable” and less difficult one day. “Courage over comfort” is where the magic happens!!

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Courage over Comfort at work

I am not an emotional person, so incorporating more Developmental Designs (a social-emotional approach to learning) into my lessons and classroom is uncomfortable and has definitely taken courage. I keep waiting for the day when this style of learning into my lessons and classrooms becomes more comfortable, but so far it just hasn’t happened…so…I guess I’ll just living the “courage over comfort” theme at work also.

Courage over Comfort in training

Leap day was full of “Courage over Comfort” in my training. An FTP test on the bike was staring me in the face from my Training Peaks calendar, and I was intimidated. I have done these many times, but have never had everything fall together so I could experience a “successful” test, and this was precisely why I was intimidated. Sure I’ve seen improvements with them, but there has always been something that has happened for me to think “it could have been better if…” when I was done. This time around, I was determined it would be different. I would conquer this FTP test and not let it conquer me! #believe

I picked a gear and cadence and was determined to stick with it! 5 minutes in, I felt good and was questioning if I should be going a little harder. I decided to stick with my plan and reevaluate later in the test. 10 minutes in, things were getting tougher, but it was still doable. 15 minutes in, I just wanted to take a break. This is when I started mentally telling myself “Courage over Comfort” over and over and over. I pushed through the last 5 minutes and walla…I had the most successful FTP test I’ve ever had!! Why was this test so “successful?” It wasn’t about the 12 watt increase in power output, although I am incredibly happy and proud of my improvements. It was about my execution of the FTP test. This was the first test that I put it all together…physically, mentally, emotionally, and nutritionally. I didn’t have any lingering “it could have been better if…” when I finished this FTP test, and it felt better than AWESOME!!

FTP test results...My normalized power was 189 watts...this was 12 watts higher than peak Ironman Boulder training in 2015!!
FTP test results…My normalized power was 189 watts…this was 12 watts higher than peak Ironman Boulder training in 2015!!

My run on March 1 was also FULL of “courage over comfort!” I had a 4×1 mile progressive repeats run staring at me from Training Peaks all day long!! I knew this would be a tough run, since my legs were exhausted from my FTP test on the bike the day before. It was a cold day with ice on the roads (thanks to an early morning freezing rain, snow mix…gotta love Iowa winters), so I opted to run on the treadmill at the gym after work. When I got to the gym, there was no cardio equipment!! What?! They got all new cardio equipment in that morning and were in the process of putting all of the machines together, but so far, no treadmills had been assembled. So it was time for plan B…back to school I went to run on OLD treadmills with no televisions, no people, nothing to distract me from my own potentially negative thoughts. Thankfully I did have music on my phone to jam to as I ran. After my 2 mile warm-up, I set the treadmill to just under a 9 minute/mile pace, which I estimated to be my current 1/2 marathon pace (although I haven’t been running consistently for long, so I had no idea how accurate this was). With each mile, I dropped ~15 seconds off per mile. The first couple of miles weren’t bad, but by the 4th mile repeat, I was running at an 8:13 minute/mile pace and thought I was going to die! Hello “courage over comfort” and goodbye negative thoughts!! I was so proud of myself for not quitting when it got tough…boy did I think REALLY hard about making the pace on the treadmill easier so I didn’t have to work so hard, but I just kept telling myself “courage over comfort” as I pushed on through that final mile. As I ran my cool down mile, mentally I was super strong and on cloud nine, but physically, my legs were TRASHED!! So this is what it feels like to REALLY push myself out of my comfort zone…

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Change is uncomfortable, but that is why I have been embracing #courageovercomfort as my theme and mantra in all aspects of my life in 2016. Strength doesn’t come from what we can do, it comes from overcoming the things we once thought we couldn’t do. If dreams come true when we step out of our comfort zone, then you can bet I will be tapping into a lot more courage and a lot less comfort this year!!

Do you stick with what is comfortable in your life, or do you rise to the challenge of trying to make the uncomfortable more comfortable? Where are you courageous in your life? What is your word/phrase for 2016?

Change Takes Courage

“Change is hardest at the beginning, messiest in the middle and best at the end.”  ~Robin S.Sharma

Change takes courage…when you move away from what is familiar into unknown territory, it takes courage.  When you don’t know what to expect, it takes courage.  When you don’t know what the outcome will be, it takes courage.  When you don’t know how the changes will impact your daily life, it takes courage. When you don’t know how the changes will impact your goals and dreams, it takes courage. It is time to tap into my inner courage and forge into the unknown.

I have been actively learning about living brave this semester in Brene Brown’s Living Brave Semester. Courage is not easy. Change is not easy. I am constantly having to remind myself to embrace courage over comfort in all aspects of my life and training.

I am actively working on changing some aspects of my daily life to master sabotaging patterns, to face the hard stuff, and to make me a more open, balanced, and a happier person.

I am also actively working on changing some aspects of my swim form, glute/hip strength, and recovery to make me a stronger and faster triathlete with fewer injuries.

Since this is the beginning, this is when change is hardest. I know it is going to get messy before the uncomfortable starts to become comfortable, but I am willing to work through the hard and messy to reap the benefits and rewards of all of the changes I am working on.

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Have you took on huge, uncomfortable changes to make you a better person? athlete? If so, what advice do you have for me as I endure this process?

Courage and ART…Running Update

The last 6 weeks, I’ve been fighting a bit of an injury.  While I haven’t been sidelined from all activity, I have been sidelined from running for the last 4 weeks.  I typically go to physical therapy when injured, but I decided to try something different this time around and the results…well…I’ll let them speak for themselves.

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Dr. Chris Feil is a Chiropractor who does active release therapy (ART) here in Ames.  He has worked with a variety of athletes in many different athletic fields.  He runs with Team Vardo (our local running group) and was confident that he could get me back in my running shoes pounding the pavement in no time.  I let him know that I had never been to a chiropractor before, but I was willing to give him a try and let him work some magic.

What is ART?  According to Active Release Techniques, “ART is a patented, state of the art soft tissue system/movement based massage technique that treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves.”

After seeing Dr. Chris four times in less than 2 weeks, he told me to try running for 20-30 minutes this weekend and see how everything feels.  I have to admit, I was VERY nervous and this is where the courage came in.

Courage

Courage is the ability to do something that frightens you.  I was definitely frightened to go out and test the legs.  “What ifs” infiltrated my mind…What if it would hurt to run?  What if I do more damage to my knee?  What if I don’t feel any pain while running, but find out later I’ve regressed?  What if, what if, what if???

I decided to run on the trails in the park by our house since it is relatively flat and I wouldn’t be far from home.  Courage…

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I started off really easy and could feel that I was compensating for what I thought I might feel instead of what I was feeling.  I really focused on not letting my body make compensations, forcing myself to relax and just run.  It turned out better than I could have expected!!  I have some work to do to get my speed  and distance back, but I will take the slower pace if it means I can run pain free 🙂

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Dr. Chris has definitely worked some magic and I am forever grateful that he has gotten me back in my running shoes pounding the pavement.  If you are currently riding that injury train or toying with a ride on it, I would definitely recommend visiting Dr. Chris.  He’ll get you off that train and moving again in no time 😉

When have you had to be courageous?  What do you do to help come back strong after injuries?  Have you tried ART?  If so, how did it work for you?