Be comfortable with being uncomfortable by Marc Trussell

When I worked in marketing, this was one of the most memorable pieces of advice given to me by my boss at the time; it was said in the context of presenting and pitching to large groups of people; making eye contact, smiling, and owning the floor.

This advice also carries over to obstacle course racing or any element of endurance sport for that matter. I’m a big believer in making the training harder or more challenging than the event itself, and something I drill to my clients when coaching. 

When I was training for the Double Ironman in 2009, I would add in “special” training sessions to my schedule and I believe that these played a great part in getting through the 280 odd miles. The most memorable session being a 15 mile run directly before taking part in a 5k charity Swimathon.  The same went for my 100 mile ultramarathon in 2012, I ran 26.2 miles, the marathon distance on a dark January evening once my wife got back from work, I had been looking after my daughter all day, and had all day to think about doing it, telling myself reasons why I shouldn’t. I don’t enjoy training in the evening as I’m much happier training first thing in the morning, getting out before the rest of the family is up.  For this race, I also ran 100 miles in six days, which meant running to work, at lunchtime, and to home from work on some of the days. 

These sorts of challenges are not only physically but mentally challenging. The aim being with them that when you hit a low point in a race, you can, agree with yourself that it’s bad, yes, but not as bad as the training you undertook to get there in the first place. These sort of sessions are best planned in advance and added sporadically amongst your usual plan. The best training sessions, in my opinion, are those which you quite simply don’t want to do.

So next time you’re planning an easy run or training session, factor in something different, a dip in a pond or a random heavy carry perhaps…

And, on the day of your next Spartan Race, own the course, make eye contact and smile at the marshals and supporters. Be thankful for the position you’re in and be comfortable with being uncomfortable, your mojo will thank you for it! 

Marc Trussell is an Obstacle Race and Endurance Coach and the only Spartan SGX Level 2 Coach and Perfect Delta holder in the UK, his website is www.gomarc.net 

Mental Health: Pushing Your Comfort Zone

Welcome to the second part of my 12 months of blogging about mental health – Although released in March, it was actually written in February!

This month I want to touch on Pushing you comfort zone. And this can be on race day, an endurance event you’ve signed up for or also something in your day to day life.

Pushing, and being outside of our comfort zone is something we instinctively avoid, naturally we see this as a zone which is deemed to hurt us. But infact, it’s where most of the most valuable lessons in life are.

I learnt when I was younger, being really shy, that pushing myself into uncomfortable situations when I had to be the centre of attention, where I had to speak to people really did help me grow into being comfortable in my own skin and become more confident.

In my sporting life, the 12 Hour Hurricane Heat, was pushing me outside of the comfort zone. It started at midnight and lasted nearly 16 hours, with a 600 Burpee finisher after we had done hours of brutal PT and team work based tasks all with a heavy ruck on, and usually carrying a heavy telephone pole type log between us.

I’m accustomed and (Semi) comfortable with OCR and endurance sports, so why would I put myself in that situation? Well for me I wanted to learn what I was capable of as well as see when the darkest hour is upon me, what my true mindset would be.

Being pushed to that end degree, gave me new light and focus. It gave me a new reference point in life. You know what, life really isn’t as tough or bad as it can be, we live fairly comfortable existences for the most part… 

Pushing into that uncomfortable zone, is where we grow, its where we realise. Yes, life is hard… But my god, it could be a lot tougher.

It makes you appreciate the small things and appreciate the comforts of just being warm and dry… So next time you fell like a situation could be uncomfortable… go for it!

Mental Health – Part 1

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Mental health has soared over the last few decades and many are easy to dismiss it as ‘the new bad back’ but unfortunately a lot of us suffer from it day to day in some form. But what is more prevalent is our lack of being able to openly talk about it.

I’m not going to sit here and state that I have a mental health problem, I feel in control of my feelings and generally most days are good! But like all of us, this hasn’t always been the case.

I grew up as an incredibly shy child who found many social situations induce a form of  crippling anxiety. But over the years I’ve learnt to push myself into those situations which has made me realise that, well, they are never as bad as they seem!

Today, I am someone who is fairly confident in their own skin. Don’t get me wrong, I can still have battles with my confidence in the most stupid things and sometimes my anxiety and shyness does consume me and I can’t always push through it, but on the whole I can control it and it doesn’t cause me too much of an issue.

I also seemingly have a very hectic mind with thoughts darting about all the time, good and bad. But I have learnt recently that I can battle this by journalling, blogging or my latest – Voice recording my thoughts down to get them out of my head! I know it sounds lame, but I actually find it very useful!

Physical fitness has also helped me, especially doing it first thing in the day, it clears my mind and sets me up for my days work or tasks.

We need to understand that Health & Fitness is not just about our physical fitness, but also about mental wellbeing, and this is done by reflection, mindfulness and It’s not hard to see some of the people that look the most ‘physically fit’ are probably some of those with the most pressure and unhappiness in their pursuit.

During December of 2018, I decided that I wanted to make an effort to give back to those that have helped me over the years and also to help raise awareness or funds for a cause close to me.

This year I will be raising funds for MindUK. I will pledge to post at least one blog post per month regarding mental health this year. Make it a hot topic on my social media feeds & I will also I will be putting out some of my thoughts – Via the stream of audio of my opinion on some issues present in modern life which i believe affect our mental health.

Keep your eyes peeled as i update you on the fundraising page when it is live and also the events which I will be taking part in to raise funds.

Feel free to contact me via DM or email at anytime for advice, or if you just want someone to talk to!

Mindful Exercise

We all know that life can be stressful, with average commutes of well over an hour into work, unrealistic deadlines to meet and not enough hours in the day to complete them… Some of you may even have children or other dependants, which adds a complete new dynamic to the stressors of life and the responsibilities you hold.

But can you use exercise as a form of escape, a place to leave your daily stress at the door? For me, I find that the effects of exercise really calm me down and help me to let go of some of that pent up stress that may have been building up throughout the day.

One example of this would be a serious interval or track session where my mind has little time to think apart from placing one foot in-front of the other. My thoughts in this session will only be on the task ahead which limits any external influences from the day entering my mind. However with this type of workout a new mental game comes into play, and that’s the one of convincing my mind that the body is capable of pushing through the pain!

Another example of my escape in exercise would be when I’m going for a slow, easy effort, like your typical Sunday long run. I will run and let thoughts enter my mind, maybe reflect on a recent situation which has happened that day or week. Sometimes I will think of all the things I’m thankful for and ponder on them, including the ones I love. This leads me into a positive attitude once my session has finished, almost like a mindful therapy session.

Other days I may leave the headphones at home and I concentrate my time on how I am moving, and how I am breathing, again moving my mind away from any daily stresses and thoughts and move that concentration onto that singular simple task of running. I find this has a very calming effect, and it can also make me more aware of my surroundings rather than blocking them out which again leads to added appreciation of whats around me.

I feel that over time, this is one reason why I have learnt to love running more and more, as I use it not only for the purpose to keep me fit but also a place to ponder my mental playground and check in on my mental wellbeing. In a day and age where life is full of distractions and we are constantly glued to some form of information, it’s good to check in, let go and switch off.

I’m a strong believer that a lot of people would actually benefit a whole lot more mentally from regular exercise, not even taking into consideration the great physical benefits, so next time you go for a run, relax into it and reap that mental wellbeing.