So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad* Training Specialist. Runner. Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) Certified Official, Category 2. RRCA Representative, Florida (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Risky? Comfortable?

Occasionally the missus suggests a topical piece; I more often than not give her recommendation due regard (literal translation: 'The topic has little to do with running, coaching, training or performance but I'll try...') and eventually drop the idea off the table.  HOWEVER...we were walking our hound yesterday (between her book editing jags) and debated whether the concepts of comfort and risk were mutually inclusive.

"People who are afraid to take risks are fearful of moving out of their comfort zone," she said.

"But there's a difference between being risk-averse and staying, er, comfortable," was my response.  A songwriter-slash-author-slash-restaurateur once wrote about risk (among other things) in a book, 'Life comes with its share of risk.  You can choose to live life or to sit and watch it on T.V.' 

The missus' former co-workers came from out-of-town for a brief visit this last weekend, which I think is a perfectly good example of the difference between risk and discomfort.  If you come from a part of the world where, say, a dog is not normally kept as a household companion, then an extended stay at the Bowen household may push the comfort envelope.  But the degree of risk is not very high.

If you decide to visit here from that same part of the world, well, let's say that cosmopolitan thought and behavior would not necessarily be considered salient...the degree of physical risk might be a little higher (depending on the alcohol intake of the locals).

There are cases, too, where risk-aversion and, er, discomfort-aversion are near-synonymous.  Take, for example, a person I (perhaps mistakenly) perceived as being 'simpatico,' who I suddenly see squirming in a manner akin to the proverbial cat on the heated tin roof while dealing with the "not like me" of the world.  I take three deep breaths and move along.

When I see it in my own self I become a little worried, though.

Risk and discomfort, naturally, are part of the running culture.  There were times in history when female runners, for example, weren't allowed to race track events which were longer than 800 meters; all because of one particular Olympics when the event participants were in varying stages of, well, discomfort after a race.  Even now there is a particular but small degree of risk when it comes to running for most persons.  Calculated by our own conditional choices, such as weather, terrain, intruding factors (some of which can turn a runner into an ex-runner), and so forth.

I will not say that running shorter distances are less risky than running longer ones; there may be risk at higher intensities and longer durations, but save for the one-off situation of a guy starting out his ultra-running career by running thirty miles on his thirtieth birthday its all a matter of learning how long we can stay comfortable.  And how long we can stand to be a little uncomfortable.

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