You have to Breathe Uncomfortably to Improve

It might sound counterintuitive, really, how at the point of my writing I'd finally clocked a decent 58mins 30secs, making it my fastest 10km of my life so far. I never thought I'll be able to hit a record like that as I'd been dwelling on the 1:05 plateau before I touched the 1-hour mark. It wasn't easy as I was basically panting and soaking wet at the end of every run.

Amidst the whole COVID saga, I'd been doing discord run with Ernest, one of my boys. The fun in doing discord runs comes when you're both running at the same time no matter how far apart. Hosting music bots on our channel makes it a better experience. It's nice to not run alone, and perhaps it was a major motivation factor for me, more than I expected.

I thought that having people to run with gives me excuses to stop. "Let's stop at 10", "Let's slow down", and so forth. I always thought that having people to run with is my safety net. Then I realized that the purpose of having a safety net is to not constantly look at the net all the time and know that it's there. It is to look forward, push yourself forward and know that the net will catch you when you fall. The whole purpose of a "safety net" gives another level of meaning with just a mere paradigm shift. Maybe reading Seneca really helps (hurray Stoicism!).

We planned a new route again, and perhaps it is all that freshness that makes the run more interesting, thus allowing us to clock the distance. Perhaps there is a lack of uphill elevation, and there are several traffic lights stops which allows me to catch my breath, but this time round I try pushing myself harder in each kilometre, without worrying about the next. Then I realized it's because of my breathing that allows me to be able to do such pace. It was uncomfortable; the breath was hard, strong, each one hurling the weight of my body, delivering myself forward with light strides.

I still do my usual running meditations, but I realize that sometimes throughout my running, I'd begun to... get too comfortable. 5km was a challenge years back, and over time it felt like a walk in the park. 10km was my next milestone, and now it just felt like an hour affair of "work". I could switch off, do my running and back; and still get my body to work and sweat. However, I wasn't improving; it was too comfortable. I had a comfortable pace, and a more comfortable breathing. Each breath and pace felt so easy that it was as if I'm taking a morning jog in my retirement years. And that's not the way; running became my "to-go" comfort zone instead of "to get out" of my comfort zone. I love running, and I love it too much; it was effortless, it was too easy compared to pushing myself in the gym. And that's not a good thing.

It wasn't what I intended of course. I realized that during this run that over my past few runs, I made the most improvements , shaving a good 8-10 mins from my first run in 2020. I realized that I'd been pushing myself more in the past few runs, and perhaps we all have it inside us and we don't know just because we didn't dig deep enough. But pushing myself, writing my running thoughts and observations religiously allows me to be more aware, perhaps more grounded and also makes me improve. It is very ironic because improvement wasn't in my cards for running. Back then I just wanted to "be able to run 10km". That was my goal, and I used to do 10km in alittle close to 80mins. (I was a very physically weak person and I get physical exhaustion very easily when I was a kid). I'm still trying to push myself till this day. And since I'm in the 58min-region, I'm going to try or die trying to stay in the 58-1hr region now. I'm still trying to get a hang of it, and I'll continue to log my observations and mental health as I keep running, but all these would slowly, eventually, and definitely make me a better person.

So constantly make yourself uncomfortable, push yourself little by little, make sure that you're breathing to keep up, and know that your body has way way way more capabilities than you think you can handle. You'll be fine, you'll be strong, you'll be okay, and you'll be better!

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