Getting Uncomfortable....

Getting Uncomfortable....

Getting uncomfortable is the key to growth and success no matter what you are trying to do.  
This year I will run the NYC Marathon (baring any natural or physical disasters).  It has been a 15 year journey to this marathon.  I will give you the back story to the marathon another time....

A few days ago I decided to run the marathon in NY for time.  In light of the events in Boston I have a strong desire to run the marathon there next year.  Like photographers, runners are a unique group of people.  The running community is pretty amazing - supportive, encouraging, strong, determined and caring.  I want to be in Boston next year to stand with my running community and say not only “Boston Strong” but “Running Strong”!
In my mind NY was going to be my last marathon but now I know it’s just a stepping stone to be a part of Boston next year.
In order to qualify for Boston at my age I will need to run a 3:45 or better race.
That is a fast pace.  Much faster than I currently run.  Running is about to get uncomfortable.

Today is Sunday. I set the alarm for 6am and only had one glass of wine last night instead of two knowing I wanted to run a little longer today.
I hit the snooze button a couple of time before getting up and ready to run.  A pre-workout drink and a little coffee and by 7:10 I was out the door.  
There is something special about Sunday morning runs.... The streets are quiet, cars on the road seem to drive a little slower, cyclists seem to be friendlier and I love knowing I am out running as most of the community is just getting up.

Here in Arizona 7am is often too late to go for a run.  It heats up pretty quickly.  I really should have been out the door by 6.  I ran 7 miles today.  It was hard to get going since my legs were already pretty sore from doing back to back legs at the gym.  (Not my idea - my trainer made me do it).  After about mile 1 my legs start to loosen up and I’m feeling pretty good.  Another 1/2 mile later and I am comfortable running an easy pace.

Once I get into the “zone” my mind starts to redirect from “Oh please legs... work with me” to thinking about what is going on in my life.  

I started thinking about my FB group and how incredible it’s been to get to know so many new people and to watch a community grow right in front of my eyes.  It’s also interesting to me how many of those photographers are “uncomfortable” with their cameras.  I don’t think I realized how many people rely on post production because they don’t really understand how to get it right in the camera.

Then my mind started wandering to running again... I wandered back to running because my pace had picked up, I was headed up hill and it was heating up pretty quickly.  I was uncomfortable.  
I realized in that moment that my first response was.... “walk for a minute - slow down the pace”.  Then my next thought was “No, don’t slow down -power through it”.
Power through it?  Push myself, muscle through it.... Pushing myself leads to being more uncomfortable which leads  my mind to say “slow down...”  Slowing down is not the way to learn to run faster... slowing down is my mind giving in before my body does.  Giving in to uncomfortable doesn’t get me to the next level.

I refocus.... Then I start to repeat to myself “relax into it - relax in this uncomfortable space... don’t muscle through it - don’t power through it - embrace it.”
I start to relax, I’m still running hard but now my mind knows it’s okay to be in this uncomfortable place.  It’s okay to experience being uncomfortable.  Lean into it - relax and allow yourself to let this moment of uncomfortable become the new comfortable.  
It’s working, I’m relaxing, I’m okay even though I am uncomfortable - the pace feels better - I can go a little bit faster... how far can I lean into uncomfortable today?

As my running starts to become comfortable again as I pass this mini plateau - my mind wanders back to photographers just learning to get comfortable with their cameras.  One of the best pieces of advice I ever received as a young photographer (I was 19 - that was 23 years ago)  An elderly photographer at the time said “the camera should be an extension of your hand, the functions should be second nature to you.”  At the time (being young and kind of stupid) I thought this man was crazy.  It was all to zen for me at the time.... “become one with your camera Daniel-son....”  (Karate Kid fans will understand)
Al Friedman, a master photographer who never had an “auto” camera or a computer was so right.  He was a master photographer because he truly understood how to use the tool to create the image and he was a master printer because he knew how to make a perfect negative come to life in the darkroom.  

When you are “frustrated” or ‘uncomfortable” lean into it.  Take a deep breath and relax with the feeling - don’t walk away - keep going because on the other side of uncomfortable is a break through and a new level of comfortable.  
It’s in that space of being okay with being uncomfortable that we truly grow.
Most people run away from that feeling of uncomfortable.  When you learn to experience it - lean into it - relax with it... You grow in ways you didn’t know were possible before....

NY in 3:45 and Boston... here I come!



Kristy Gilmore  commented on  May 5th, 2013

Ah, Michele I love you! I grew up in AZ and was a runner too. I connect to everything you just said. As I strive to reach the next level and the level after that, I have found my self very frustrated right before an amazing break through. Recognizing this pattern has allowed me to embrace the discomfort and achieve my goals!

Debbie  commented on  May 5th, 2013

I LOVED this post! As a triathlete who struggles to get faster and past the mental game when the ride, run or swim gets tough, and also a newbie photographer I appreciate these words and thinks it is wonderful that you are helping us learn! Good luck with your NY marathon endeavor, I am sure you will be amazing.

Sheryl Allred  commented on  May 5th, 2013

Michele, you go girl !!! Although I don't run, I love working out hard at the gym, and heading up to the mtns for hiking in the rockies, here in UT. My mom ran several marathons, and still runs (and swims) at age 76. She is a breast cancer (2x) survivor, and I believe running and staying fit has been a key factor to her current health. I look around every single day at the unfit culture we live in, and I feel so bad for people that don't understand why exercise is SO important! And Michele, you are so right, in that it is the mind that can be trained to power through what the body tells us is uncomfortable... the mind.... oh so powerful. You can train your body to run a race... but you must train your mind to win.

Jyoti Suravarjula  commented on  May 5th, 2013

Hi Michele. I bought my first point and shoot in May 2009 after coming to US. A friend who's been shooting for 23years, told me..." If you wish to learn Jyoti, never use an auto mode." My bridge camera had a manual mode. I switched it to manual... and never used auto mode. Not since the day 1. With no PS, no LR, no RAW... I learnt the hard way to get the images right in the camera with my P&S. Later when I upgraded to a DSLR, it was the same. But I started shooting raw. That needed minimal editing. So I taught myself Lightroom. Slowly... one tool at a time. I am still a SOOC (Straight out of camera) person. Need LR just to adjust contrast and remove an occasional spot. I am not there yet. As a photographer. I cannot see a person and judge immediately which angle will look good on him/her. I cannot read light and decide what is good light, what is not. I am learning slowly but surely. For me no PS or no auto mode was never a discomfort. Cause I never gave myself another choice. I never changed from the manual mode. So didn't learn how to not use manual. Didn't buy Photoshop. So do not have that choice. If this is called embracing discomfort... than may be this is it.

Jyoti  commented on  May 5th, 2013

About running and fitness... that is where I need to push myself. I just cannot make myself take any challenge. No... its not like I cannot walk.I walked 10K in around an hour 15 minutes. So not bad. I just cannot do it as a challenge. I just go on walks cause I like them... and on a whim I walk 5/10 kms. If it were a challenge... I'd never do it I think. That is what I need to work on. Not be scared of challenges and to take them. To do things not because I can do it... but to test what I cannot. I have no idea how to train myself to do that. :(

Charity  commented on  May 5th, 2013

I loved this post! As both a photographer and runner myself I can completely relate tI this post!!!

Michele Celentano  commented on  May 5th, 2013

Thanks for all the comments. Jyoti - you can do ANYTHING you set your mind to. So long as you set your mind to it!

Dan  commented on  May 6th, 2013

So what does it mean That I have to push my self to run with you LOL

Michele Celentano  commented on  May 6th, 2013

Dan- Your qualifying time for Boston is doable.... But let's go..

Michelle  commented on  January 17th, 2014

You are my match. I am following clues working on faith. I love you.

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