The Benefits of the Comfort Zone

People always tout the benefits of “getting out of your comfort zone”…and for good reason. Making yourself uncomfortable is a great way to grow, to learn, and to improve in an endeavor and as a person.

Running is right smack in the middle of my comfort zone. Swimming and biking are a little closer to the edge of discomfort; one of the many reasons I’ve chosen to sign up for the Rev3 Quassy 70.3 triathlon and the Lake Placid Ironman. It’s why I’m on a quest to raise $10,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I’ve run 5Ks, 10Ks, 15Ks, half-marathons, marathons, in the snow, in the rain, in the heat, and everything in between…why not step out of my cozy comfort zone and try something new?

Also in my comfort zone: tailgating.

Also in my cozy comfort zone: tailgating. Not to be confused with running.

However, there’s something to be said for being comfortable. Running has always been my personal preference for bettering my life and the lives of others. Although, 13 years after I joined the track & field team in junior high, I’m still no expert. I’m obviously not immune to things like injuries and I still haven’t found the perfect shoe. However, running has taught me to be an expert at other things. It teaches me the value of patience, reminds me to relax, helps me listen, and encourages me to reach for my dreams (and more often than not, reach for a bagel, grab a cup of coffee, and settle in for good conversation with friends post-run…which makes life so sweet.). Running makes me feel strong. It connects me with other people. It gives me confidence in myself.

It makes me happy!

It makes me happy!

After the past couple months of non-running, I’ve found myself permanently in an essentially no-comfort zone. I go into every workout a little on edge; never quite sure what it will bring. Sure, that’s fun sometimes. Other times I find myself practically crying into my swim goggles wondering why I can’t get my form quite right or why my body won’t do what I want it to. Not that running never makes me want to throw my Brooks down and stomp around pouting…just way less than anything else.

Today, three simple things gave me a little extra pep in my step; an Alter-G, my iPod, and some running shoes. After my PT appointment at Finish Line Physical Therapy, I was able to schedule 30 fantastic minutes on their Alter-G treadmill, which allowed me to run at a lower percentage of my body weight; my PT recommend 80%. So, I ran. Pain-free. It was like running on clouds. I listened to my old running playlist (which happens to be from Philly in November; perhaps I should update that?). IT WAS THE BEST THING EVER. With less pressure, I was able to run at my normal pace and get super sweaty. It felt so great.

Like beer-after-a-200-mile-relay great.

Like beer-after-a-200-mile-relay great.

It was just comfortable…and this little foray back toward the middle of my comfort zone was all I needed to get a boost of energy and confidence.

For now, I’ll continue to don my bike shorts and swim suit more than my Brooks, until those respective sports creep into my comfort zone. And then, who knows what I’ll do.

What’s in your comfort zone? How often do you get out of your comfort zone?

I’m a writer currently living in New Jersey and blogging about running, fitness, wellness, and motivation. I want every reader to laugh and feel empowered, balanced, and motivated! Subscribe by email to get 1-2 newsletters a month with post updates, my favorite articles, running playlists and more!
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7 Comments

  1. May 1, 2013 / 2:29 am

    My comfort zone is short runs and low resistance cardio boringness so I like to step out and train for harder runs and I’ve started swimming too (it’s weird)

    • May 3, 2013 / 8:24 am

      How’s the swimming going? Let me know if you discover any secrets to make yourself instantly faster, I NEED THEM!! :)

      • May 3, 2013 / 12:58 pm

        Trust me if I figure something out I will shout it from the rooftops and share it with the world! I’m a terrible swimmer haha

  2. Beth @RxBethOnTheRun
    May 1, 2013 / 8:55 am

    I love this post! Running makes me feel strong, has brought a whole new group of incredible friends into my life and gives me confidence in myself too. You said that so perfectly, it was like you were in my mind. But at some point running and meeting new friends was outside my comfort zone. Hang in there and have faith in yourself and biking and swimming WILL become your comfort zone too! I think you’re doing AMAZING friend! You are strong, determined and inspire me to never give up!

    • May 3, 2013 / 8:25 am

      VERY great point! At one point this was out of my comfort zone too…especially meeting up with random people I didn’t know! And now look :) Thanks so much for the kind words and for continuing to motivate me every single day!

  3. May 1, 2013 / 11:58 pm

    Good question!! Comfort zone: swimming, riding in my own, running easy. Non comfort zone: riding my bike in a pack and running fast(track workouts, tempo runs by myself and 5k runs)
    I get out of my comfort zone pretty often!!

    • May 3, 2013 / 8:26 am

      Ahh riding in a pack IS a little scary! I think I’d rather do that than be alone though. Just not toooo many people :) Running fast is definitely pushing the comfort zone for me too!

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