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General Running • June 12, 2018

5 Tips to Slip Beyond Your Comfort Zone/ 5 ways Slipping beyond your comfort zone leads to PR’s

Runners are creatures of habit. We love doing the same things because we know we’re good at them. The same workouts, running routes, and routines provide comfort. But if we always do what we’re already good at, how do we get better? Sometimes the biggest improvements come when we go beyond our comfort zones and mix things up.

As a professional athlete for ZAP Fitness Reebok, I find an intelligent risk or change in routine can help me claw out of a rut. As an online coach for Team Wicked Bonkproof, I see this stand true for runners of all abilities.

Here are five ways you can break out of your comfort zone and see some of your best running:

Find a coach who will push you and make you accountable.

It can be hard to know if you’re doing the right thing to stay happy, healthy, fit, and injury-free. If you’re not quite sure how much you should be running, or how hard, and it can seem daunting. Many runners look to online coaches for guidance. At Team Wicked Bonkproof, we can help you plan and pursue your goals, no matter what they are. Having a coach, as well as a community of other runners supporting you and your progress, can help keep you on track.

Be excited about trying new things. Attitude is everything.

Getting out of your comfort zone means doing things differently. Have an open mind, and put positive twists on change. I used to get so nervous before big workouts or races. I would focus on all the things that could go wrong, or how it might not go well. My College coach sat me down one day and talked to me about how to re-frame my mind on the big workouts. Instead of letting your mind run with what could go wrong. Think about what you can control for it to go right! If it’s a new challenge, know that you’re going to learn something about yourself you didn’t know before. The night before races now I sleep soundly with the thought of that I know as long as I give it my best effort, I will be happy. Even if you don’t tackle the goal like you had hoped, at the end of the day, it’s just running! No one in your family will think less of you, the sun will still rise tomorrow, and you’ll have learned something to help you for the next time around.

Try a new route. There are always hidden treasures to make a simple day exciting.

Sometimes we get stuck in the same boring routes and forget there is so much more to explore. There is something exciting about exploring a new area, road or trail. You’ll often find the new routes are better than the old. Sometimes just driving 10-15 minutes away can lead to a whole new area you never thought of before.  In College, I spent every summer I ran around my hometown(which the largest loop around the whole thing was 3 miles, which gets boring fast), for over 4 years. Until one day, a friend asked if I had ever been to this state park literally 10-minute drive down the road. I had never even thought to check out this park, as I only knew it for camping growing up. Come to find out there are over 30 miles of well-maintained trails! It instantly became my favorite place to run every day! A place I had always known of but never bothered to check out ended up becoming my #1 venue!

Run with others who will push you and help get you through the tough stuff.

It’s hard finding the motivation to run before sunrise, in unpleasant weather, or after a long day at work. Having someone else there can serve as an extra push to get you out the door. If you don’t have a running buddy in mind, seek one out — local running stores and clubs are a great resource. There may be weekly community runs in your area that you never knew existed.

Try new race distances.

We all have our favorite race distances. Sometimes stepping up or down in distance can make our favorite race distances even better. Do you love running half marathons? Shorter races like the 5K (or even the mile) will help make that pace on longer distances feel slower and much more achievable. The athletes I coach will often do these “under-distance” races. These race serve as fresh challenges them and great workouts. This is something most elite athletes do. In fact I just raced a mile a couple of weeks ago! Even though I am getting ready for the Chicago Marathon, mixing up race distances will help keep things fresh and exciting!

Johnny Crain is a 2:15 marathoner powered by ZAP Fitness, Reebok, Gen UCAN, and Team Wicked Bonkproof. He was a 10-time All-American and 4-time National Champion for North Central College and has qualified for 3 Separate U.S Olympic Trials


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