"It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves" ~ Sir Edmund Hillary
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You, too, can look like this one day.
Who here hates hills? OK, all of you put your hands down and repeat after me "I should be ashamed of myself!"

I get it, I really do. Hills are HARD. They push your limits and intimidate you. They HURT! I used to be a hill hater, I admit it. When I first joined Team in Training we had a run that was laden with hills. I thought I was going to die! If one more chipper person said to me, "hills are your friend" they were going to get a foot up their butt. After that run, when I didn't die, I realized that hills really aren't that bad. OK, they are, sometimes, but if I was going to train in Central Pennsylvania (hello mountainous area) I better just get used to it!

I had a little pep talk with myself about hills. Hills are much like obstacles in your life. It would be easier to run away from them than to go over them. Once you conquer them, you realize how much you have accomplished and how much stronger you are for it. Still not buying it? Here are some things that help me while I'm running hills. Give these a try and see if you aren't converted (I'm not asking you to LOVE hills but maybe, just maybe, you can make them your "friend.")

1) Do not try to speed your way over the hill. Keep the same pace (or slightly slower) as you had been running on the flats. Yes, you want it to be over sooner, but you will burn out halfway up if you ignite the proverbial fire in your... well you know where.

2) Stay light on your feet. You are not a horse and you should not hear clomping all the way up. Try to stay on the front of your feet and pretend you're running on egg shells.

3) Keep your head DOWN. Don't stare up at the problem, I mean hill. Chip away at it a little at a time. Give yourself a goal of making it to a road sign and once you pass it, set a new goal. If you're on a busy highway, do look up frequently to make sure you're not going to be flattened like a pancake.

4) If you're in a group, get behind the strongest runner. Tie an imaginary rope around their waist (don't let them know about it, you could really mess with their heads) and let them "pull" you up the hill.

5) Suck wind! Do not forget to breathe because you're all worked up about the hill. Concentrate on your breathing and try to keep it steady. Hyperventilating and hill running are not a pretty combination. I calm my breathing down by sucking in through the nose and then releasing through my mouth.

6) Smile! OK, you really don't have to smile. However, if someone passes you, would you rather look like you're enjoying the hill or that you're only making it to the top so you can die? Don't give the person passing you the satisfaction of pointing and laughing.

7) KEEP GOING. Once you crest the hill you will likely want to stop, turn around and yell profanities. Please do not do this. Keeping your heart at the "my heart is going to explode out of my chest" rate is a great way to train your body to work more efficiently. The more time you keep your heart pumping hard the more time it will get used to it. In short, next time you crush that hill, your heart may not actually be in your throat. You can slowly return your heart to normal "flats" mode as you continue on your route.

8) Visualize. I can't stress enough how taking your mind off of what you're actually doing works. Think about  a crowd of your favorite people cheering for you. Think about your favorite celebrity waiting for you at the top with an umbrella drink. Think that you're not just in your boring neighborhood, but climbing a volcano in Hawaii. Whatever it takes, think about it.

If you try these and not a single one works, well, you may just hate hills forever. Kidding! I do promise that while you think you can't do it, you can. Your heart is NOT going to explode out of your chest and your legs are not going to fall off, sending you toppling back down. You can conquer the hill! I often tell myself that the hills are my true workout during the run. If I can make it count during the hills I can sail during the flats. If you have to walk part of the way up, do it! However, make that hill your new goal to beat. I promise the day you crush that hill will be one you won't forget! Please, whatever you do, don't forget that hills are your friends!!!

Run Hard,
Run Strong,
Run for You,
Holly

Chrissie
6/22/2011

Hills are my friend. I live in New Freedom :-)

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Cristin
6/22/2011

Hills are not my BFF but I'm not opposed to going out for a drink with one every once in awhile, LOL! Great tips! I will try them ALL when I hit Annie's next time :)

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Amy MacDonald
6/22/2011

I still hate hills, but I do love this post. And you're absolutely right. When I survive a good old Messiah run, I feel like I can take on the world afterward. I also try to remind myself that hills are good for trimming my butt down in size. That helps the motivation to get over it. But I still hate them :)

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