I hate hills.
They say running up hills is good for you. It builds speed. And endurance. Whips you into shape.
They also say running down hills is worse for you. Harder on your knees.
Who are these people?
I’m not one for being whipped into anything.
I don’t run hills. In fact, I avoid them. Entirely. I’ll change my whole route just to make sure I don’t even see a hill.
During my first marathon (Portland) I was so relieved when I finished the ‘big’ hill at mile 17, I started to sprint to the finish. Never mind the fact I had another 9 miles to run. I was at the top of the hill. In hindsight this is an extremely poor race strategy. Note to self, the race isn’t over just because you made it to the top.
This year, I plan to avoid that mistake. I’m running one of the flattest marathon courses out there. This is not an accident. A fellow runner once told me after he finished the Chicago Marathon that it was almost too flat. As if such a thing could exist. He went on to say it was so flat it was boring.
This is when I made up my mind I was going to run Chicago.
Today was different. I can’t explain it. I decided to take a different route, even if it meant I had to run up a hill. I just wanted to mix it up. Do something different.
I have a core route through my neighborhood. I can turn left go slight downhill, up a hill, then slight downhill or do the reverse with the hill broken up and a long downhill in the middle.
I bet you can guess which route I normally run.
Today I was going to run up that hill.
Even if it meant I was going against the wind.
I’m always telling my clients to find what feels downstream. Go with the flow. Stop fighting against yourself.
Yet downstream today felt like heading straight into the wind up a damn hill.
They tell you to lean into the hill. Small steps. Same effort. Don’t push harder, don’t let up. Just take smaller steps.
Find a spot about 10 to 20 feet in front of you and run to that marker.
When you’re almost there, pick another spot just in front of you.
Every now and then, look out into the distance to remind yourself where you’re going.
So that’s what I did. I made it to the top of the hill, 10 feet at a time.
My reward was letting loose and sprinting down the hill. I didn’t care that my shoe was untied. I didn’t care that I passed my street. That my run was ‘over.’
The wind was at my back and I was going downhill with the sun shining on my face. Pink was blaring through my headphones:
“’I’ve done all I can think of. Chased down all my demons, I’ve seen you do the same. Oh, pretty pretty please, don’t you ever ever feel Like you’re less than perfect you’re perfect in my eyes.
It felt pretty perfect to lean into that downhill stride.