I’ve noticed lately that when I head out to run, I often start to visualize the hills on my route; I see them in my mind before I literally see them. I count them all out, and assess the degree of difficulty of each one. Then, as each hill comes into sight, I start a little mental dialog in hopes of producing a strong and steady surge upwards. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
A book I read recently made me realize however, that my mental approach to tackling the hills is all wrong. For one, I spend way too much time thinking about and anticipating the hills ahead of me; that not only cheats me of a relaxing and enjoyable run but it also makes me vulnerable. Second, I need to embrace the hills and look forward to seeing them; the idea of them may at times be intimidating or unappealing, but I should focus instead on the physical (and non-tangible) rewards that they offer.
We Run Up, written by father and daughter Dennis Reeder and Andrea Sayers, is a fantastic compilation of lessons learned from their weekly hill runs together. I highly recommend this book if you think your thought process – while running – could use a little positive redirection, or if you’d simply enjoy a fresh perspective on the value of hill running, and running in general. Without giving too much away, here are a few excerpts and quotes (my thoughts in blue):
- “Focus on this moment, this round, and let the other hills take their turn, when it is their turn.” – I love this because I tend to saturate my thoughts with all the hills ahead of me, which is far more overwhelming than focusing on just one hill – or one section of a hill – at a time.
- The life lesson: “…when you feel crushed under the weight of numerous problems, remember that all these things viewed as a whole can feel very daunting, but when separated out and focused on individually, they will be more manageable and less overwhelming. Problems filled your plate one at a time and can be most effectively removed in the same manner.”
- “Belief is the catalyst that gets us started and the motor that keeps us moving.” – this is a prime example of how my thought patterns can influence either a successful hill run or one that fails. Allowing even a little doubt to enter my mind can significantly impact my performance. If hills are not new to me, and if I know I am capable of running them, then the only belief I should confidently uphold is that my legs and lungs are strong and hills don’t scare me.
- The life lesson: “Only my belief can produce the drive and persevering power I need to achieve my dreams…..if we do not believe our dream can come true, then we will not waste our time acting on it. It is when we start acting on our dream or dreams that our belief is demonstrated and things start moving.”
- “What we overcome is often more important than what we accomplish. It is in the patient struggle of the seed pushing through the soil that makes breaking through a triumph.” – this makes me think of hill repeats, and how I focus solely on the countdown. All I can think about is that final repeat, and being done with the workout; I want it over with, NOW! Maybe I need learn to what it is to be patient and persevering, and to enjoy the discomfort of each aspect of the workout, since the true reward comes not from completing the workout, but from pushing through, repeat after repeat.
- The life lesson: “Do not let accomplishment become a ‘Holy Grail.'” – joy can be felt throughout life, not just at the moments when accomplishments are achieved. It’s up to us whether we choose to revel in the process, or miss the joy because we’re too focused on getting to the end.
- “If we always do what we have always done; we will always get what we have always gotten.” – we can’t expect the hills to produce results for us if we run the same hills, with the same strength and speed, week after week after week.
- The life lesson: “Like a boat drifting with the current, it is easy to go through life on autopilot, reactively moving through our hills and valleys without realizing that we are drifting off course from our goals. We may find ourselves falling into old conditioned patterns because that is what feels comfortable. Success in life (as in running), comes with focused effort. Where your focus goes, your energy flows – where your energy flows determines your direction. Your direction determines your destination. Your destination determines your quality of life.”
Great stories and life lessons, as well as beautiful photography throughout! Get your copy now from Amazon.com