I’ve had more time lately and have been considering signing up to run another half marathon for the Alzheimer’s Association team. To help me decide, I’ve started training using the Nike+ Run Club app. Yesterday, I did a guided tempo run narrated by distance running champion Emily Infeld.
A tempo run requires the runner to maintain her speed over a sustained period of time. This is not easy when you’re pushing 60, have never run fast to begin with, and have demonstrably been losing speed in the last few years. Emily’s advice was, “Get comfortable being uncomfortable.” I pushed myself and finished my run, although at a slower pace than I had hoped.
It struck me that Emily’s advice applies to many situations, including dealing with a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. Moving my wife J into assisted living two plus years ago certainly was uncomfortable, although I have no doubt it was and remains the right decision. Trying to relate to her when she can no longer speak in sentences, or even phrases: uncomfortable. Dressing and feeding her: uncomfortable. Agreeing to send her to a behavioral health ward for evaluation: very uncomfortable.
Many people deal with uncomfortable situations by avoiding them. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I also do that sometimes. But I know from painful experience that real growth comes from living with discomfort, and I’m fortunate to know I always come out on the other side of it.
In caring for J, my discomfort is insignificant compared to the positive effect I still have on her life. So here’s to getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. Thanks, Emily.
(And thanks to AD for the photo.)