Rona Mcmillan is a Scottish Outdoor and Travel Blogger living in Glasgow, her adventures often require her to push herself mentally and physically and she’s put together some of her top tips on what it takes to push yourself out of your comfort zone. You can follow Rona on Instagram @ronamcmillan
I’m originally from the North West of Scotland, so spending time outdoors is something I’ve always enjoyed and been comfortable with, but as my adventures took me further afield there’s been many times when I’ve been challenged and had to push myself mentally and physically to achieve my goal. It’s really important to me to instil confidence in people to pursue their own solo adventures – whatever form they take!
I’m taking on the Bank of Scotland Great Scottish Run in September. Running really doesn’t come naturally to me, so if you feel the same read on for my top tips for getting out of your comfort zone and across the finish line!
TRY SOMETHING NEW
This sounds like an obvious one, but you’ll never build your confidence to take on a significant challenge if you don’t try something new! You don’t have to climb Ben Nevis tomorrow, but setting yourself the challenge of trying an activity you’d never normally consider can give you the confidence to aim towards bigger goals. The key is not to be afraid of failure, there aren’t many people who nail something the first time they try it, but giving yourself the permission to be bad at something is half the battle. There are loads of fun activities you can try in Glasgow that will help you step out of your comfort zone – I love stand-up paddle boarding, a sport where you’ll constantly have to dust (or dry!) yourself off and get back up again when you fall down!
It’s impossible to be an expert in something you have no experience in. Luckily with most sports and outdoor pursuits there are plenty of people that have gone before you and know exactly what it’s like to be starting out with no clue of what to do. Joining a club can be a great way of learning alongside other beginners and benefiting from the knowledge of people more experienced than you. If you don’t feel up to committing just yet, that’s what the internet is for! It’s really easy to connect with people online via platforms like Instagram and twitter who will be happy to share their knowledge and answer questions.
HAVE A PLAN
Ok, so you feel confident about what you want to achieve and you’re ready to give it a go, now what? My advice is to make a plan and stick to it. When training for a running event a training plan is really useful but in the beginning just working out what you need to do to get going is important. If I’m taking on a big hike, it’s crucial I’ve researched the route, the potential obstacles and thought about how I’m going to get there and what I’m going to do when I’m finished. Running really isn’t much different. If you have a busy life work out whether morning or evening will be best for you to go out. Plan a route so you know where you’re going and roughly how long it will take you. Set your kit out the night before so you know where everything is. That way when you come to run all you need to think about is getting to the end!
TAKE BABY STEPS
Setting achievable milestones is really important. Start small and build up. Little wins will give you the confidence to keep stepping up to the next level. It’s really important not to push yourself to far too soon and getting frustrated with your lack of progress. Running just doesn’t come naturally to me though and I admit it felt slightly intimidating starting my training for the event. You’re not going to be great at something immediately - you’ve got to earn it. I’ve tried to keep this in mind every time I’ve laced up my running shoes.
When I first started training, I was struggling with shin splints, which put my running on hold for a while. To keep my fitness up I’d instead attend spin classes, lift weights and continue with my swimming.
I’ve had to learn how to be comfortable with not being fit or fast enough, but by taking myself out of my comfort zone and really pushing myself, I’ve begun to enjoy each small victory of completing a run a few times a week.
You need to set yourself achievable goals that push you enough to feel a small victory. I always try to take on the challenge of a sprint at the end of the run, or an extra 1k, or just a few minutes doing an extra exercise at the end of a run. These add-ons just push you that bit harder and take you that little bit further out of your comfort zone – sometimes literally.
REMEMBER TO ENJOY IT
It can be tough - putting my trainers on and getting out the door is sometimes the biggest challenge - so if I’ve gotten that far on a bad day I try not to beat myself up too much on the run and just enjoy being out in the fresh air. No matter how good or bad it is, I never regret it, I’m out training and that’s all that matters.
Running outside rather than on the treadmill is much more entertaining for me and also more distracting. I find running new routes is great for long distance training, as I don’t keep track of the miles I’m toting up and I try to switch off more.
Pushing past that fear of running I once had makes me proud of my achievements. That feeling I get after a run is what makes me want to do it again.
I’m more energised, feeling a lot healthier and happier – I’ve found that ‘runners high’ is a real thing and I can’t get enough.
By pushing myself outside my comfort zone, taking on something that I had never imagined completing in the past, the Bank of Scotland Great Scottish Run has given me a goal and an opportunity to be my greatest for a day.
For more information and to enter the bank of Scotland Great Scottish Run visit www.greatscottishrun.com
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