Distress, distress, distress into comfort.

Weekly Wrap. Week 3.

This week, I am mostly happy that the last week is behind me. Last week included quite a few brutal swims, which pushed forward my boundaries of uneasiness, a 3 hour indoors session and a long run outside with weather bouncing from -12 to -10 degrees in Celsius (10.4 – 14 Fahrenheit). In total, I had over 10 hours of planned training sessions, which most likely have gone overboard – as I had done 5 minutes cycling-wake-up and 15 minute yoga routine almost every morning. All this came to a conclusion, that this week’s 8 hours of training felt like a vacation (EDIT: here’s to a hope that my coach will not read this 🙂 ). This week was definitely within my comfort zone for every workout I had an I think which is yet to come.

Together with the comfort of this week and some interesting thoughts from different sources throughout the week, I decided to touch the topic of discomfort’s transformation and blending into indifference and finally into a comfortable state, which no longer bothers you or triggers you. I myself try to be more mindful of the times, where there is a huge need to step outside of physical or mental inconvenience and most likely not go back, if possible. Few things influenced this direction lately and I will share them with you further in this blog post. Before jumping into that, please stop by and have a view on a memorial day run we had in Vilnius last Sunday, where I joined my local running club buddies and run alongside – I want to say the army, but I guess we will settled down for alongside  soldiers.


Negative degree runs.

See? Told you we were running with the army!

So the last two Sundays were spent running around in not the best conditions. As I messaged my coach – I would much rather prefer to run in Lanzarote, than in Vilnius right now. Vilnius has been cold, grey and snow-squeaky as of late. And not the pleasant fluffy squeak of snow, rather the one which is almost frozen, sharp and rough. Memorial day run, on January 14th, was a run with a lot of people, celebrating freedom and sacrifices, which were made by Lithuanians during breakthrough from USSR army in 1991 in Vilnius. A lot of people sacrificed their lives in protest to the move of USSR army and this day commemorates those sacrifices by covering the distance from the cemetery they are burried at to the place the biggest part of protest happened. The more I participate in memorial runs, the more I appreciate where Lithuania is right now and understand people wanting to break out from the regime. To think of it, they fought for the freedom, which I can use to do so many things with my life nowadays. One of them is the freedom to run. And I am forever grateful for that.The run itself was an interesting change of treadmill runs I have done prior to it – especially when considering that the weather outside was reported to be felt like -12 Celsius (10.4F). Run towards the goal and receiving the medal was fun, but running back at a turnaround point of 9 kilometres, when the cold was already going through your clothes – that was not pleasant. I tried not to focus on the cold and just be in the moment with the people around me and the cheerful momentum all around. Plus it was a great pleasure to get back together with my running club and see all those familiar faces:

Despite it being very cold, there was a huge turnaround of our club – Volvere Run – for the memorial day event.

This Sunday, I had a bit of extended run, compared to the ones I have done previously. Instead of running 1 hour 30 minutes, I had to run additional 15 minutes. The weather was getting better throughout the week and we had a lot of snow prior to my long run. Better weather still means negative degrees, but closer to the positive side. And I was a bit hyped to have a long run in a snowy forests outside our area, after many short movies I have watched of Anton Krupicka running in Boulder, Colorado. To my surprise, the snow made the view better, however the ground was utterly difficult to place my feets upon. After 10 minutes of warm up running, I got into the forest itself. Due to the uneven layers of snow and no traces, it was challenging to keep the pace up and heartrate in the right place. My feet were slipping from right under my center of gravity and going in different directions. It is how I would imagine Leslie Nielsen to do a parody on running, but not myself covering almost 2 hours in these conditions. So after initial 10 kilometeres in the forest, I managed to get out of it and was at the choice to either continue running trail, or going back on the road. I chose the latter. The slippery steps I was taking in the fields and forest were putting some pressure on my overall psyche and withstanding of additional 55 minutes of it – highly unlikely. So I switched back to road running and covered the rest with only slight discomfort due to cold outside and my thermo clothes gradually soaking the sweat and  losing their capabilities to keep me warm. In overall, the result for this run was a negative (degrees) half-marathon, to which I am quite happy about:IMG_20180121_170903.jpg

Psychological patterns and where to break them

Going back to the initial thought for this posts’ discussion. I have prepared four topics, which made me think of the psychological “pits”, during be it training or racing, which impact my ability to perform. In addition, I tried to add some guidance and my plan, as to how I am planning to battle them. Let me start with the wet problem.

Previous 4 swims, as I have mentioned, were placing me into a distress. To what my natural reaction was the need to quit and get back to the comfort. Usually the argumentation in my mind plays out very similar to “I have done enough. I am getting tired, perhaps it would be better to push myself to far and rest it out this time. Next time will be better!”. Realistically, there is no “next time” in improvement plain. I do not see, “previous time” being there either. Let me explain why – putting myself into a forecasted better result in the near future does not make me better at this point and time. It only delays the actual improvement. It delays the fact that I have come to a limiting factor right here and right now and there is an actual chance to move on through it. Promising to be better next time is just ignoring the fact that next time might have a limiting factor of its own. To what I will be the same person, I am right now, only with a “plus one” limiting factor. So each time, that I try to postpone the discomfort of a given situation, I remind myself that next time limiting factor will become “n+1” kind of thing, where “n” is my current problem and “+1” will be equalt to the number of times I postponed my discomfort. And to confirm that my swims are brutal, here is an evidence that even my goggles could not withstand last 4 swims:


In continuation of the topic, one of the V-Loggers I watch, reminded me of the time I read Mark Allen’s book “Fit Soul, Fit Body”. I have not finished it, but it gave me a thought that I might revisit it. It was mentioned that during difficult moments in races Mark Allen was overcoming his stress and discomfort through mindful placement of himself into a previous comfort zone. That way switching the focus from discomfort to an illusion of comfort through a previous memory. I tried it during my last swim, when I was pushing for 10×200 meter intervals at my race pace and I felt how it was disassembling me by pieces with each upcoming interval. At 8th I was already struggling to keep the pace and push it forward, but I decided to give it a go with my last “comfortable place” I visited. And it turned out to be a song, I listened throughout the week and which was soothing to me through its tunes. So I tried to remember the riffs and musical theme of it and suddenly, the discomfort was going away. My mind focused on a more pleasant thing and few more turnarounds in the pool – I am done and ready to rest.

A similar concept can be found and was reminded to me in Josh Waitzkin’s book “The Art of Learning”, where he describes a trick of a “trigger”, which allows himself to put his mind into a more competitive state, than he is now. This trigger is used to remind yourself of a pumped-up state, which gives you confidence and adrenaline and creates an effective way to combat anxiety and increase performance. It is something I will try to incorporate into those moments, where I do not feel like going for a training session. Where I would much prefer to stay at home or just rest a bit. I want to focus on building an exciting feeling within me, which I can leverage to create a zone in which I can partake in any challenge.  I am yet to try it out in practice, but I will keep this monitored and my readers posted.

Lastly, there is a video of Lance Armstrong, biking up a hill during his training days in Italy (might be France?). It is raining immensely, it is cold, unpleasant, most likely it is hours into his ride already. At some point his coach tells him that he should not / can not go further, as it is too slippery, too rainy and the roads might be closed. Lance’s answer is so much different to mine – Who? Who says that? I do not care, I will go. And when I watched that video, I instantly remembered how many times it is myself who tells me that I can not go any further. Unfortunately, that inner self most of the times is very persuasive. But I want this to become a starting point, where I do not limit myself. There are so many boundaries in the world, I should not be creating an additional one on my own for no reason.

These are four trains, which departed from my reflections on week 3 in terms of mentality and training. How one can accompany the other. It is going to be a long path and journey to incorporate them into activities occurring instantaneously, but I want to start. I think that pulling myself to go backwards is “dead weight” and without it I can achieve more. What about you? Do you analyze your patterns in thinking and discomfort? Have you noticed where you can improve by not letting the discomfort to take its tall? Feel free to share it in the comments section.


Song of the week: Persona 5 – Beneath the Mask
Reading: Mark Mills “Waiting for the Doggo”
Game: Assassin’s Creed: Origins (PS4) / Starcraft 2 (PC)
Average Weight: 77.6 kg

Kafka was left alone on the shore. I stopped reading Murakami’s book, with 100 pages to go. I just could not bare with it. It became too nonsensical too fast and I stopped carrying for the plot. Luckily, I have a good surplus of books in my backlog and I am now happily reading a book my wife gave me for Christmas. It is a compelling and relatable story and it has a dog in it! Unfortunately the dog in the book is pictured as a small one, but I use my imagination to picture someone like Totoro, our dog to make it even more fun.

Dog version of “if I fits, I sits” obviously has to be improved

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