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Getting Comfortable with Discomfort

A Skier’s Guide to Reaching the Next Level

Tips & Ideas Thursday, September 24, 2020

Let’s be honest, sticking to your social ski and routine trail, route or distance feels good. But, if you want to take your abilities to the next level, you are going to have to push yourself. It can require a good deal of time, mileage, commitment, diet, and sacrifice or being something as simple as breaking your routine. So, why change?

Going out of your way to get out of your comfort zone can fire up your brain by creating new neural pathways. And novelty sparks the part of the brain that releases dopamine—our body’s feel-good chemical. All of this conspires to tune us in more deeply than when we’re checked out doing the same old, same old.

The problem is we love our routines. We have our home resort, where we know every trail intimately. We have our short loops and long loops, recovery workouts, and speed workouts. We have our foolproof race day breakfast, our go-to snacks, our favorite gear.

But routine, while comforting, can dull your sensitivity. Just like we tune out as we drive that familiar route to the school or office, a routine can make you tune out during your workouts, too.

When we push past routine, that’s when we find the opportunity for growth. In sports, and in just about anything we do in life. All of which is easy to digest, but hard to implement when the alarm goes off at 5 a.m., or your body is just begging you to swap your workout for maybe a nice nitro brew and a chat with a friend.

How to get past the comfort trap? Joe Howdyshell, former Nordic racer and coach with Summit Endurance Academy, shares his 3 best tips for pushing through:

  1. "First and foremost you have to believe deep down that it’ll make a difference. If you don’t think it’ll do much, then why would you?"
  2. "You have to have some sort of why. For me, I like the feeling of being strong. And I do like the numbers (and finding ways to find the numbers) that show I’m strong. What’s yours?"
  3. "You have to reframe discomfort as ‘Well, if I’m not uncomfortable, I’m not getting sh*t done.’ Without discomfort, there can be no growth."

One of the best ways to overcome discomfort? Seek it out, and practice. Start with small things, like adding an extra half mile to a workout, taking a cooler than usual shower, even chatting with someone new at a trailhead. Every small step builds your tolerance for discomfort—and paves the path to growth.

One way to break your comfort zone is to explore new terrain. With the CCCSA Season Punch Pass, exploring new terrain is easy and affordable.

Regardless of how you change, now is the time to start planning, setting goals, and getting ready for winter.

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