I dive in the water, warm up, swim some 50s and build my pace and after a 1000 or 1500 yards it's time to start. The Main Set. Sometimes it's 100s, or maybe my favorite-200s, or if I'm really lucky (note sarcasm) 10x400s. (right Jen...actually I did like that set even though it sounds totally dreadful). The point is--I have my speed. I know how fast I can 100s, 200s, 400s. I know what I can do. I push off, streamline and kick harder than on other sets. I'm pushing it. I'm working hard. All is well.
I'm cruising along....thinking I'm working hard....really really pushing....and I hit the wall. Ok. Yup. That's my time. That's my "I just worked hard on a 100 yards time..."
It's not enough. I have more.
So on the next one, I push harder, I dig deeper as I pull, I engage muscles that are dormant most days, I find a new place....a place that I don't find every day. I'm breaking away. OUT of that comfort zone. OUT of that safe fast place. Into a new zone...a new speed....the speed that will make me faster this year. The speed that will get me ahead just a little bit more. And maybe that's all it will take.
When I run, my comfort zone is the easiest to find of all three sports. It's just where I go. It's my pace when I'm told to 'just run' steady. Yeah baby...it feels so good. When you're cruising along: step step step step step and before you know it you forget you're running. I love that. Some days, you need to throw some speed in the mix. Let's say I'm running 4 minutes fast......4 times. Not so bad. I can do that...I can run fast for 4 minutes! I can push it! And you know, I know about the pace that I should do on a moderately flat route. (no total flats in my neighborhood) And that pace hurts. But I can make it hurt more...and I must. If I'm going to have a fast season and go faster than I did before, I need to push beyond where I think it hurts. I Must get Out of my comfort zone.
You can work hard or you can tear it up.
I believe it taking things one step further. If you think you are working hard...challenge yourself. Make it hurt MORE. Dig deep deep inside for one more gear. One more zone. One more level. Proove to yourself that you can find the place that will make you better. If you want to get better (and I think we all do) you must challenge yourself.
That comfort zone is a dangerous place. We all have it. And if you can't figure out how to escape....you're stuck.
So GO FOR IT! Next time your coach gives you the green light to PUSH HARD....do just that...only push HARDER than you thought you could. You'll be proud when you finish.