The Awesome on the Other Side of the Uncomfortable

By Beau Seegmiller

It is raining outside. The cold, wet weather on the other side of my window reminds me of a drive less than two months ago late on a Friday night to get to Pettit Lake campground in the Sawtooth Mountains. I had spent the day teaching followed by coaching my middle school cross country team. I was tired and it was raining with a forecast for snow. I was traveling to complete the Alice-Toxaway Loop run the next morning. This spectacular 18.6 mile loop through some of the most stunning scenery in Idaho presented some significant challenges. The trails, far from smooth, are rocky and ascend to 9,000 feet over Snowyside pass. Snow would not prove helpful. I was uncomfortable with what the weather presented.

I do not think it an overstatement to say that we do not like to feel uncomfortable. Most of the technological developments over the last two centuries have focused on maximizing comfort while eliminating discomfort. This natural development is understandable since discomfort and pain usually indicate some very real problems that can even be life-threatening. Ironically, I have discovered that there are certain discomforts, uncomfortable moments, that are actually wondrous passageways to awe-inspiring moments that cannot be realized or experienced otherwise.

It was in a coaching seminar that I learned about the clear relationship between feeling uncomfortable and athletic performance from Joe Vigil, the famed Adams State Cross Country coach. Vigil said that most people live in a comfort zone. They seek out a state of always being comfortable and satisfied. They do not take risks. They also fail to stand out in the pursuits or tasks in which they engage.

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Pyramid of Performance – Joe Vigil

He continued by describing the next level up the pyramid of performance. This group of people are willing to make commitments. They have aims and objectives for which they are willing to get occasionally uncomfortable in order to achieve.

The next level involves high performers who are more willing to take risks and get uncomfortable in order to reach their goals. Vigil stated that this group approach being uncomfortable more often than they are comfortable.

The top level performers, the peak on this pyramid, are constantly pushing the envelope beyond being uncomfortable. In Vigil’s words they actually become comfortable being uncomfortable.

The olympic cyclist, Kristin Armstrong reflects Vigil’s words when she said, “I want to get more comfortable with being uncomfortable. I want to get more confident being uncertain. I don’t want to shrink back just because it isn’t easy. I want to push back, and make more room in the area between I can’t and I can.”

 

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Morning sun on the Alice-Toxaway Loop

I drove on in the rain that night, eventually arriving to the campground where my lovely girlfriend, Sara, had a warm meal ready for me, the tent set up, and my down sleeping bag laid out. I slept very comfortably that night and woke up to cool, clear weather. The foreboding forecast of snow never materialized and I ran along streams and lakes in the brilliant morning sun. The light in the mountain air lit up the stunning granite peaks. As I breathed in the clean, crisp air, I reflected on how ideal the conditions were for such a run. My run that day proved to be a profound experience of awe and replenishment that sustained me for weeks. In the end, for this weekend, the only discomfort I experienced had been in the anticipations of a worried mind.

Looking out the window at the rain still falling, I know that with the turning of the seasons uncomfortable weather will be inevitable and unavoidable. The question in my mind is where will I be on the performance pyramid. Can I become more comfortable with being uncomfortable? Will I be able to discover the awesome on the other side?    

See you out on a run!

Zen Running

by Todd Mahoney

Some of my earliest childhood memories involve (seemingly) endless waiting at finish lines at various running events.  So boring when you’re 7.

My dad was a running fanatic, he joined “the cult” shortly after getting out of the Marine Corps. Growing up, I remember stacks of running magazines and the endless fascination with shoes.  From 1979-1987 he ran this crazy race every year called The Race to Robie Creek – his favorite.  Occasionally we would have tailgate picnics on Shaw mtn road while we waited on Dad to finish a training run. We (my mom, younger sister and I) all thought he was certifiably nuts.  I tried some running in middle school but I found going in circles around a track uninspiring.

Karate was my thing.

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Todd running the 2017 Race to Robie Creek.

From age 10 to 18 I would get sweaty and bruised every week in a karate gi. Because of that,  I developed a healthy interest in some of the eastern philosophies our Sensei incorporated in our class.  It helped me pin down this connection between my physical self and nature I’ve felt. I’ve always found being in the great outdoors a spiritual connection – part of my youth was spent growing up in the Ketchum/ Sun Valley area.  My version of “church” involves mountains, trails, rivers and pine trees. 

Fast forward to 2014.  After a year of suffering through the run-three-miles-nonstop obstacle, I had just completed my first “race” – the FitOne 5k.  It was fun. I was hooked.  As I was recovering (you would think I just ran 12 miles!) I came across this group of runners hanging out under this canopy with “The Boise Area Runners” logo on it.  One of them introduced herself to me and we chatted briefly.  She handed me a card and told me about their group runs.  From day one I found this group to be welcoming and friendly.  They are a valuable resource of running knowledge and encouragement.  It’s nice to have people you can share your victories and failures with over a beer. People who “get it”. Over the years some of the faces have changed but the vibe is always the same. 

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Todd and Andre after the Turkey Day Run.

Every runner has their reasons for lacing up and heading out.  I actually don’t do it for fitness, though it is a nice side effect.  I’m not into medals and the only person I compete with is myself.  I run for this zen like experience I get out on the trails with the critters and trees.  Sometimes I might catch a glimpse of the ghost of my younger self when I’m running up Rocky Canyon.  I love that I have a great location and a  great group of people to do this with.  

Cheers!

~Todd

May Monthly Mile

We had a great run last week for the Monthly Mile. We had six runners log their first BAR Monthly Mile time and five other set new PRs. Additionally, one of the new PRs was the fastest time we’ve seen on the track, 4:40! Great job to all the new and returning runners.

If you’re interested in tracking your improvements in running, we run a timed mile the first Tuesday of every month at the Boise High track. Details and a list of times is available on our Monthly Mile page.

BAR Ambassadors

We’ve been going through some behind-the-scenes changes recently within the club. We’ve now adopted our first set of official by-laws and are in the process of becoming a member of the Road Runners Club of America. Most of the time, this won’t change how the runs have been happening. What it will do is help provide guidelines for the club as well as a structure for everyone’s voice to be heard.

More details will be coming soon, but for now, if you’re interested in becoming a BAR Ambassador (voting member of BAR), check out our Membership Page.

The other change we made was to set up a Square account so we can now take credit card payments. It’s set up for donations currently, but we’ll be adding the option to purchase BAR swag soon. No more need to carry paper money on the run just to buy a T-shirt at the end.

These may be little things, but I’m still excited to see it happening.

Run a Day

Apparently Mark Zuckerberg has encouraged people to run a mile a day. He feels it will improve people’s overall health, which is probably true. Looking into it, there’s a group that tracks people who have run at least a mile a day for at least one year! The numbers on the Running Streak page are crazy. Some runners have been going for over 30 years without missing a single day. I’ve been running for years and that still seems like a lot of running. I’m interested in seeing how long I can go without missing a day (or more  likely doing too many miles and getting injured).

Anyone interested in starting a BAR Running Streak club?

Broadway Bridge Detour

So a central part of the Greenbelt is closed until Fall 2016 because of construction on the Broadway Bridge. This will impact many of our Greenbelt runs. There is a detour around the construction which is mapped out here. This extra section adds about 0.5 miles to any Greenbelt loop (unless you were planning to go across the Broadway Bridge, of course).

On the north side of the river (through Julia Davis park), take the last driveway out of the park to Myrtle St. Stay on Myrtle past the Ram as it becomes Park and take the first road on the right, Ferguson St. This will lead you back to the Greenbelt.

Going back, get off the Greenbelt just after the small wooden foot bridge and follow Leadville Ave south for one block. Turn right on Belmont St then right on Longmont Ave. This takes you behind Chili’s and brings you to Broadway just outside the construction area. Cross Broadway and stay on Cesar Chavez Ln until you can get back on the Greenbelt.

The whole detour should be well signposted but if you have any questions about where to go, grab one of the regular runners at the next Greenbelt run and they’ll make sure you don’t get lost.

One thing to note about the map is that Google doesn’t seem to know about the stairs up to the W Parkcenter Bridge which adds a larger loop than you need to run.