I don’t know the first thing about reading an elevation chart. (The one pictured here is from the half marathon at the Baltimore Running Festival this year.) That said, I have learned some things from running hills that I think need to be applied in other areas of life.
We seem to think of struggle as a bad thing. Like slowing the pace or feeling discomfort is wrong. Why? It’s part of running hills. It’s part of life. Is the climb hard? Keep pushing. Suffering is an underused training method. Hills can make us stronger.
We find ourselves on a slope and we either start flying or put the brakes on. Savor the down hills. Don’t out pace yourself or hold yourself back too much. Enjoy it because, guess what? It will eventually level out and/or you’ll start climbing again. Enjoy it wisely. Responsibly.
We tend to think of life in terms of peaks and valleys. I understand the analogy, but I find that there is a lot of recovery that takes place on the flat spots – even more than the down hills. That means that the valleys, those low points, may be the sweet spot. The funny thing is, you can’t find them without hard climbs and responsible descents.
We want things easy, but the sweetest victories are a result of struggles, recovery, and finishing well. We only get stronger by pushing our own limits. We only find those sweet spots where we can enjoy the run by fighting through the hills and we can only enjoy the run when we know we are ready to take on another hill.
Is the climb difficult? Keep going. Is the decline easy? Enjoy it. Are you in a flat space? Recover and prepare.