I’m getting to know my new neighborhood. It has friendly people, tall trees, at least two coyotes, and…hills. Lots of them. You can’t hardly walk half a mile without sloping downwards or upwards.
I like it, though. Living with hills teaches you things.
I’ve been toddling through a particularly…robust season, on all fronts: home, work, social, you name it. I use the word “toddling” because it fits. Excitement + uncertainty + drifting on and off course + giddiness + messiness = toddling.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed during such seasons, especially when there doesn’t seem to be a clear end in sight. When it gets really hard, I try to keep hills in mind. Specifically, running up them.
Running up hills, whether they’re mountains or the big neighborhood hill around the corner, isn’t easy. There’s pacing to consider, and form, and oh yeah, not forgetting to breathe. Beyond the physical, there’s also the mental challenge. Especially if it’s a looong hill, or one that curves. You ask yourself, “Where’s the top? How am I going to do this? When will I get a break?”
This is where experience proves invaluable. After you have a few hills under your belt, you’re more comfortable with pacing. You can judge a hill and determine a plan of attack before you get to it. You know and practice optimal hill-climbing form. You remember to breathe.
That doesn’t mean hills are suddenly easy. There are still the mental hurdles, and that’s when experience really proves invaluable. Because with experience, you know this: if you just keep moving, if you just keep putting one foot in front of the other, you will, in fact, reach the top. You can, in fact, do this, and you will, in fact, get a break.
Hills teach you things.
After a few hills, you also learn humility, and graciousness. You learn to be gracious with yourself — sometimes it’s better to walk than run (just ask an ultramarathoner!), and if someone offers an encouraging word or hand, it’s okay to let them. I repeat: it’s okay to let them. And you learn to be gracious with other people — different people tackle their hills in different ways, and maybe you can be the one to offer that encouraging word or hand.
If given a choice between a pancake-flat race course and one with some hills, I’d pick the hilly one. Why? When they wear so much on the body and the spirit, WHY?
Because flat courses, even if they are nice and quickly completed, are boring.
Hills teach you things.
And every hill — each and every one — has a top.