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Comfort Zones: Step Out, Push Up, Expand Your Reach.

I like comfort. Don’t we all? Some of us like to remain in a constant state of comfort, others like to push the boundaries of our comfort zones, and some like to teeter on the edge of both worlds. I’m one of those people who teeter totters; however, as of late I’ve been stepping out, pushing up, and expanding my reach in running and it feels so good!

I’m one of those who typically has no trouble putting myself in uncomfortable situations. Comfort is nice, but challenges are what change you. I can work through my own discomforts but don’t really want to worry about others, so when other people come into the plan, I tend to be pretty conservative on the comfort scale.

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Unfortunately, this comfort scale carries through to family excursions and travel. Luckily, I am married to a guy who has a great sense of adventure and enjoys pushing beyond his comfort level. Recently, we were discussing the new fad of taking cold showers as a means to make yourself deal with discomfort. My husband said, “I push myself, my mind, and my body every day. My body feels discomfort and I give myself challenges. I don’t need to do it with a cold shower. Cold showers are for people who don’t push themselves in daily life.” Great case and I can agree.

We are both runners, but lately he’s been challenging himself on trails. I’ve had this desire to give trail running a go, but one big thing has held me back – time and kids. When you have kids, time is just short. But lately my husband’s spirit has prevailed and I’ve been stepping way out of my comfort zone.

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I’d tell, not ask, the kids we were going to explore trails, pack fuel, gather gear, bring a book, and get in the car. No questions. No whining.

In our last three excursions there has been no whining and there has only been happy, curious questions. We leave our cozy, Sellwood neighborhood and 45 minutes later find ourselves parking at a trail head in the Gorge. Our first adventure was Larch Mountain.

Larch Mountain is an extinct volcano that has become a beautiful forrest which provides moderate, sometimes difficult, terrain.  My husband and I took turns doing the 6-mile loop down into the crater and back up. It was 2 miles of fun downhills, 2 miles of traversing over challenging rock, and 2 miles of rolling beauty back up to the parking lot. As a typical road runner, escaping the road was a blessing. The nature, peace, and fresh air was sorely needed in my case. My husband has been running a whole lot of trails these last several months, so his opinion of the trail was different than mine. I had to push up hard over the terrain, but his approach was to hike over the difficult terrain. As a road runner and former track runner, all I think of is speed and power. As a trail runner, you hike sometimes and other times you float over the trail. IMG_1235

The four of us benefited from this trail excursion. Our kids did not do the six mile trail that we did, but they did run and explore a quarter mile up to the viewpoint and back down, a couple of times. They read and listened to books out in nature as well. Larch mountain beat my expectations by a mile.

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Usually, I don’t feel the need to fuel during a typical run. However, on this run at mile 3 my body needed something. I ate a date and drank some water which sustained my energy for the rest of the run. Refueling following the run was not something I thought would be necessary, but trail running affects your body quite differently than road running, so I grabbed Picky Bars new flavor Moroccan Your World that had turmeric, cardamom, ginger, and pistachio in it. It was the perfect blend of flavors for post-workout nutrition.

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This run is more proof that getting out of your comfort zone is important for growth. Our whole family explored and had fun, I ran in and up an extinct volcano that made me a bit nervous beforehand, and I pushed my body way passed its comfort zone. The rewards of a run like this are whole body exhaustion, spectacular views, and the healing of nature.

 

What will you do today to step out, push up, and expand your reach?

 

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