Discomfort and Greatness

By Lisa Menninger 

Have you seen that Nike ad that is running during the Olympics?  It’s an adolescent boy, carrying some extra weight on his frame, running into the camera shot.  The voiceover talks about how we define greatness. Every time we push past what we thought we could do and take another step in uncovering what we are truly made of, we find our greatness within.

I love that commercial, because I have found through years of training and coaching, that is absolutely true.

We tend to think of greatness in terms of world-class athletes, or internationally known figures who achieve remarkable feats on the world stage. But that description is but a small percentage of greatness that happens each and every day. Every person is capable of greatness.  We achieve it through tolerating discomfort as we push limits, working hard and maintaining consistency.  We cast off doubt and fear and forge ahead, hoping we have what it takes to get it done.  Stay in your comfort zone and your personal greatness can allude you.  Push into places that are uncomfortable and you can uncover what you are truly made of.  We can find things inside us we didn’t know were there.  It helps us figure out what we are made of and perhaps what we are meant to do and to be.  This is how we can find greatness in ourselves, and therefore WE define that greatness.  We choose the goals.  We choose the work.

Exercise is a perfect place to do this.

For running, small, regular measures of discomfort in the form of endurance work or speed work, give way to improved strength and speed.  Perhaps you run a little longer than usual.  Or you pick up the pace for the last 5 min of your run, in spite of the fact that it is uncomfortable.  Maybe next time you pick up the pace for 8 min.  Or you do an interval session of a faster pace for 30 seconds at a time, then going back to an easy jog for 30 seconds, and repeating that 6 times.  Maybe you get on the stairmaster at your gym, since you normally avoid it because it feels hard for you.  Perhaps you get involved in a weight training program and find you are stronger than you expected. You can take these steps in other areas of your life.  Maybe you skip that cola at lunch and have a water or a La Croix instead.  What if you made the effort to eat at home, grocery shopping and meal planning rather than heading out for dinner several times a week?  Maybe you decide to greatly reduce or eliminate sugar from your daily diet.  Perhaps that thought of any or all of that makes you uncomfortable.  But you can still do it, no?

It is the most challenging events in our lives that teach us the most valuable lessons about ourselves.  Those events pull from us a strength, resolve and power we sometimes don’t know was there.   We face challenges and break down our own notions of what we can do,  our own limitations, finding a new and very concrete confidence and a deeper understanding of our true capabilities.  You are always stronger than you think you are.  You are always able to do more, handle more than you think you can.

So get uncomfortable and find the greatness within.

Lisa Menninger has educated and inspired hundreds of people ages 12 – 83 for the past 15 years as a corporate speaker, personal trainer, and athletic coach.  In addition to her personal training clients and athletes (triathletes, runners, and cyclists), she has brought her message and experience to corporations, associations, non-profits, clinics, schools, and athletic groups.  Lisa is an ACE certified personal trainer and coach and we are happy to have her as Salt Lake Running Co.’s Official Coach and Training Program Coordinator. Lisa is available for personal and group coaching through her training programs. Find out more here.

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