Breaking Out of My Comfort Zone, Alone

Anyone who knows me would likely say that I’m pretty chatty and extroverted. I tend to overshare, give a lot of verbal appreciation, and get energized by groups of people. But this weekend, I found myself with quite a bit of alone time on my hands and while I admit that it was mildly uncomfortable, it was also really good for me. I’ve recapped the details of the weekend, but if you want to skip to my reflections, check out the last few paragraphs.

Through this whole marathon training process, Alex and I have completed pretty much every run together. If for some reason one of us didn’t feel like running or couldn’t make it work schedule-wise, we rescheduled and went together. It’s been great quality time , which was largely the point of training together, but it meant that when I was faced with the prospect of a 12-miler this weekend and Alex was out of town, I wasn’t quite sure I could do it.

The SF marathon had organized a group training run on Saturday morning, but honestly I didn’t want to make conversation with people I didn’t know for two hours. It was an unusual moment for me, but one that I embraced. Instead, I walked down to the Ferry Building to wander among the produce stands, get a juice, and force myself to write in my journal. I have found that to do deep, personal reflective writing, I actually need quite a bit of lead in time. So I gave myself that.

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I did have lunch with a friend, which was lovely. We sat outside, sipped sparkling water and enjoyed our meals. We walked around for awhile longer, but starting at 3 pm, I found myself alone again for the rest of the evening. Alex wasn’t puttering around the house, I had no plans to meet up with anyone, and I didn’t feel like going out. I thought about going on the 12-miler then, but couldn’t work up the energy.

Instead, I watched a movie, successfully made pizza crust dough for the first time, and went to bed by 9:30.

I woke up Sunday refreshed and ready to run, with the promise of a spicy mocha from the chocolate cafe down the street if I made it the full 12 miles. At the 10 mile turn around, I considered cutting the run short. But the spicy mocha beckoned, so I pushed on. I stopped to enjoy a moment with the roses in the park.

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I finished the run at 12.16 miles, felt great, and headed out for my mocha. When I arrived at the chocolate cafe, I suddenly decided that perhaps I wanted a regular latte, and instead went into the cafe next door. But then I thought about how I’d never had a spicy mocha, and it felt right to try something new. Back to the chocolate cafe I went and it was honestly one of the most decadent, delicious things I’ve had. It was a perfect long run reward. Plus, that spoon is too cute.

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After enjoying my treat, I had a great, low key visit with friends and then picked Alex up from the airport. I successfully made vegan deep dish Indian pizza from scratch (Aloo Gobi filling and deep dish cornmeal crust – I’m sorry for the terrible photo, but I wanted proof) and we had a great night just catching up after his weekend away.

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Why did I recap all of this? Partially it was such a lovely weekend, and it’s nice to remember it in words. Also partially because it was a lesson for me in how making space can allow for really great things to happen – actually getting journaling done, a great run, an amazing new meal, and a feeling of being relaxed and ready to take on the day. I woke up and was incredibly joyful and productive this morning, after the last few weeks of being in a less than stellar mood.

Y’all, I even hung up pictures on the walls in the living room. Alex and I have lived here for 4 years and we own a lot of really great framed art. That has been sitting on a bookcase. Some of it is finally hung up and it feels great.

Not everyone has a full weekend, or even a full day, to dedicate to relaxing the way I was lucky enough to do this weekend. It’s the norm for me, so I can imagine it’s not the norm for most of us. Jobs, family, chores, errands, and other commitments are often full of their own joy and reward, but sometimes don’t leave us much time to reflect and connect with ourselves. My goal is to find a way to incorporate this feeling into my life regularly on a smaller, more manageable scale. I already meditate for a short time each day, but I also think active, thinking alone time is beneficial for me, too.

On a physical level, this is why rest days when training are so important. Just as our minds need a break from go go go, so do our bodies, especially when training for a big race. I’m glad to see more mainstream fitness media promoting the value of a solid, non-active rest day. I know that while perhaps my race times haven’t benefitted from only three days of running per week, my body is injury free and ready to race in two weeks so I couldn’t be happier.

I wasn’t stoked about the idea of spending so much time with myself this weekend. Like I said, I’m an extrovert and being alone too much makes me antsy. But I found that being out of my comfort zone, as it usually is, had a lot of hidden rewards, so I’m happy I didn’t fill every moment with plans. And now I’m off to be productive for the rest of the day. Thanks for letting me share these reflections here!

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2 thoughts on “Breaking Out of My Comfort Zone, Alone

  1. Good for you!! I’m the exact opposite! That weekend alone sounds like a perfect day to me (I’m going to move out there and hang with you, k?!)! The group run would have been ENTIRELY out of my comfort zone. I like people, but I prefer one-on-one time with others and big groups scare me. And me time? Love it. But I’ve been realizing lately that isolating myself is a defense mechanism (against what? not sure yet…) and a safety zone, so I should work on that!

    • Hi Abby!

      I’m definitely a shy extrovert, and Alex is an outgoing introvert. While I LIKE being around people and totally feel refreshed after social time, I’m still shy in new situations, especially large groups like the run! So sort of like you, I prefer smaller groups – and one on one is probably my favorite way to be social. Alex needs to recharge after social interactions, but I’m amazed because he can talk to anyone anywhere with no problem. It took me SO long to figure out he was introverted and didn’t want to be social all the time!

      and yeah, it’s definitely a balance – me time versus social time. I think both can be defense mechanisms. Sometimes when I don’t want to deal with something internally, I just make a ton of social arrangements so I don’t have to think about it which isn’t helpful either!

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