Q: “I’ve you heard you talk about being “comfortable being uncomfortable.” I think I know what you mean, but I’m not sure, and for sure I want to know how to do that consistently in a long stint on track?”
A: My first reaction to this question is, the more you practice being comfortable being uncomfortable, the more consistently you’ll be able to drive in this state. So, it builds on itself.
If you’re unfamiliar with this phrase, the idea is that the more time you spend being slightly uncomfortable, on the edge, with the car moving around a bit more than you’re used to, the more comfortable you’ll get with it. Eventually, you’ll spend so much time being uncomfortable, that you actually crave being uncomfortable – you’ll be comfortable being that way.
Consider people like Alex Honnold (the Free Solo rock climber), Travis Pastrana (Nitro Circus, X-Games superstar), and even Lewis Hamilton. How do you think they feel when they’re not climbing, jumping motorcycles, or racing an F1 car? Maybe a bit bored? When they’re doing these things that make most people uncomfortable, they’re comfortable. That uncomfortable zone is normal to them. But they’ve become programmed to feel that way, through tons of repetition, both physically and mentally. Watch the movie, Free Solo, and you see Honnold mentally rehearsing what he’s going to do until he’s comfortable doing what was once uncomfortable. You might even say that he lives (is truly alive) when he’s a little bit uncomfortable.
This does take time, but it’s all about your mental programming, and you can develop this programming – this way of being, this state of mind – through mental imagery, as well as physically driving on track. With that in mind, I’d suggest spending time doing mental imagery of yourself driving on that edge for a long time, and getting very comfortable with it – in fact, the more you do it, the more comfortable you get. See, feel and hear yourself driving that way, and imagine feeling awesome the more you drive. Build the mental program of being in that zone of being comfortable being uncomfortable, and driving consistently at that level. Again, it takes time, but you can do a lot of it before you ever go to the track.
While not the same, spending time on a simulator can help with this. And for sure, any time spent driving on a slippery surface like a skid pad or on dirt in a rally car, will contribute to you getting comfortable being uncomfortable.