So many things today compete for our attention and energy. So it’s no surprise that when we get a few minutes of peace we seek comfort. But a book I brought on a summer trip to Oregon suggests we should regularly seek to get out of our comfort zones.
In The Comfort Crisis, author Michael Easter writes: “Do Hard Things and the rest of life gets easier.” Easter argues “Most people today rarely step outside their comfort zones… We are living progressively sheltered, sterile, temperature-controlled, overfed, under-challenged, safety-netted lives.”
A few key excerpts from the book:
“A radical new body of evidence shows that people are at their best – physically harder, mentally tougher and spiritually sounder – after experiencing the same discomfort that our early ancestors were exposed to every day.”
“Scientists are finding that certain discomfort protects us from physical and psychological problems like obesity, heart disease, cancers, diabetes, depression and anxiety. And even more fundamental issues like feeling a lack of meaning and purpose.“
For many of us the last two years have pushed us out of our comfort zones dealing with family, jobs, children, and our own health during the era of coronavirus. But we don’t need (or want) a global public health crisis to help keep us focused on our health and overall wellness.
This is where a “misogi” can help. The Comfort Crisis describes a misogi as a challenge you set up to test yourself both physically and psychologically. A misogi challenge asks: “What are you mentally and spiritually willing to put yourself through to become a better human?”
The benchmark for a good misogi challenge is that you should have about a 50 percent chance to make it, and that’s if things go right. Sir Edmund Hillary, famous for his ascent of Mount Everest with Tenzing Norgay, understood misogi when he reflected: “If you set out on an adventure, and you are absolutely convinced you’re going to be successful, why bother starting.”
So what does The Comfort Crisis and misogis have to do with Freedom’s Run? Challenging yourself to do something that is not comfortable, having the courage to prepare, and spending some time alone in nature can do magical things. Training for a running event presents those challenges.
Freedom’s Run is an event that traverses a terrain full of history and beauty – as well as challenge. The full marathon will start in Harpers Ferry, include a loop through the beautiful Murphy Farm, continue down Shoreline Drive to cross the Potomac River footbridge to the C&O Canal, then proceed upriver. The marathoners will blend with the half runners at mile 15.
The 5K, 10K and Half Marathon will start in Shepherdstown. The 5K and 10K will go across Rumsey Bridge and do a “there-and-back” on the C&O Canal and then back across the bridge into town to finish at Ram Stadium.
The Half Marathon will course down river on C&O Canal to meet the marathoners on Miller Saw Mill Rd. and proceed into Antietam National Battlefield. The beautiful course runs through one of the Battlefield grassy trails that offers 360 degree views and hilly challenges as well as past Burnside Bridge to return along the C&O Canal into town. All events, including the one-mile kids fun run, finish at Ram Stadium.
Challenge yourself! The Freedom’s Run Race is Saturday, October 22, 2022. Event info, course maps, and registration details available online at FreedomsRun.org.By Mark Cucuzzella