When I trained for my marathon a couple years ago, I made a big mistake.
Before the official race training began, I would run 20-25 miles per week on the roads and trails around my house. Some days, I would run long and flat whiles others would be shorter yet much hillier. As the training intensified and the required mileage entered into the daily double digits, I slowly changed my patterns. You see, the marathon was being held in Savannah, a city whose only hills come in the form of bridges. So, I reasoned, I don’t need to train on hills for the race. All I needed to be able to do was run 26.2 flat miles.
It was all too easy to forsake those hills. After all, when you’re already facing 3 hours of running, the last thing you want to do is add any additional difficulty.
But it was a big mistake.
I didn’t realize it at first. The runs were progressing well and the injuries were minimal. My speed work was improving my pace and my endurance. But avoiding the hills was beginning to have a negative effect behind the scenes. My hips and glutes became weaker, the level surfaces not enough to challenge them. My stride changed as other muscles compensated for the deficient ones. Tendons became irritated and inflammation set in.
By avoiding the challenges, I had allowed myself to become weak.
Hills serve a purpose, both in running and in life. They teach us how to dig deep, switching into a different gear in order to power through. Hills help us understand that periods of intensity are followed by periods of rest and that no struggle lasts forever. Hills build fortitude and perseverance as we grow stronger to meet their demands. Hills provide perspective, making the level ground of life seem tame by comparison.
So be a hill climber.
Rather than avoid life’s challenges, face them and grow stronger.
And then, who knows, one day you may even be ready to tackle mountains:)