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It's the Hills, Stupid!


Monday, July 08, 2013

I am sensitive to hills and heat. Lately it's been pretty warm down here in Florida. Hot and humid and that makes running difficult. Hill don't help.

Today I had a thought which keeps coming back to me, and it's something I've not seen addressed elsewhere, and I do a lot of reading about running, and fitness in general.

When I first started running I'd get really, really tired and disheartened from time to time. But, I am very stubborn, and do not give up easily. I keep plugging along, and that's what I did, no matter how tired I got. I did, however sometimes falter in my positive thinking, and might briefly wonder if I had the strength or will to be a runner. Then, I'd get 'a second wind' and feel really good again and the negativity waned. For a while.

One day, early on, I had a DUH! moment. I was running uphill often when I felt tired, exhausted, then on the way down, I felt much better. This is something which didn't stick in my brain until I repeated the thought process several times. So simple, but so slow for me to grasp.


Now, during my long runs when I am really really feeling tired and want to feel bad for myself, I stop and think "are you going uphill again, Dummy?" and most often I was. Then I'd just wait for the coming downhill to feel better again.

This probably won't be a huge surprise to anyone who reads it, especially if you've been a runner for a while, but just in case you are having one of those 'not feeling it moments', when you feel like you'll never be a good runner, see if you're really just on a hill.

By the way, not to complicate matters, but that 'hill' might be poor nutrition the day before, lack of quality sleep, or you overdid your strength training the day before.

Watch out for those hills, they'll slow you down, but don't worry, you'll recover quicky enough if you just keep on plugging along.

Thanks for reading and have a great day.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post:
GREGGWEISBROD 7/11/2013 8:57AM

    Brilliant analogy! :-D I just thought of so many other moments in life where I questioned my strength, and it is always on those hills in life, be it literal or figurative. Excellent post.

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BUTTERFLY-1976 7/10/2013 11:55AM

    A few weeks ago while running I realized this. Like you..now when I have the 'not feeling it moments' I look to see if I'm running uphill & sure enough..I usually am. If I'm not I think about the other 'hills', sleep & nutrition.

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TIME-4-TINA 7/10/2013 9:46AM

    "The Hills are alive.....with the sound of music"..... (there you go, you can picture Julie Andrews singing when your going uphill.)

I didn't realize there were hills in FL. My parents live in Naples/Fort Myers area and it is soooo flat. Are you in the north part of FL?

Stay cool, Vic.
emoticon emoticon

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LANNIEMANUEL 7/10/2013 7:02AM

    great post and very encouraging. emoticon

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SHIRAZSOLLY 7/10/2013 1:58AM

    In Western Oregon, we have LOTS and LOTS of hills. It is extremely difficult to find anything flat. But not much heat 9 months out of the year. Until we have LOTS and LOTS of heat. Of course, we also have LOTS and LOTS of rain until we have LOTS and LOTS of sun. Right now I am smack dab in 95 degree, very sunny days, with lots of hills. YAAAAAY for me! I look for sprinklers to run through, slides to slide down, dogs and babies to laugh at, birds to find amazing... anything at ALL to be diverting! It helps to not have much shame.

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MARGARITTM 7/9/2013 9:31AM

    I hear ya on the hills and I know sometimes it is stress or poor food choices the day before. that are the "hills"....slug it through and try to learn something from them..... the bacon wrapped scallops incident of 2008 comes to mind - but frankly the Chinese Food last Friday night - and the poor 5k performance on Saturday night are more recent......

I am in New England and "Hills-R-Us"!!! but if you like a challenge - beautiful scenery - often ideal running conditions - low humidity - cool temps and shady roads - come on up! We'll save a lobster for you flatlanders!

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MARATHONDAD 7/9/2013 6:48AM

    I hate the heat too buddy and hills are killer but like u I am very stubborn keeping plugging away

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CHARITY1973 7/9/2013 12:21AM

    I'm going to go out on a limb here and say something really crazy...I prefer the uphill rather than the down....I have nemesis hills that keep b*tch slapping me but I keep going back for more punishment. It's the muscular effort of down hill running that requires me to dig deep.

The hills that really get to me however are the ones that look flat yet are deceptively steep. This is where I start to lose my cool and it takes reminding myself that this is a real hill even if it's hiding its gradient from view (straight flat roads hide their gradient really well). The coaching book I use describes hills as speed training in disguise.

Recently I was watching the Great Wall Marathon and many times the runners power walk pushing their hands on their thighs as they climb really steep pitches. This apparently is to remind their body to engage the gluts to climb, not the quads. The gluts are a much larger muscle group which fatigues slower than the quads. Since then when I hit a steep patch of hill I think of my gluts as being rockets propelling me up the incline. Works for me!

As for the metaphysical 'hills' nice to remember hills don't go on for forever.

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SORGIN 7/8/2013 10:16PM

    Thanks for writing this. A year ago I moved from the breezy/cool FLAT midwest to the hot/steamy HILLY deep south (I had no idea the Gulf Coast had hills!). I have spent most of the year in a state of "I can't do this." Too hot. Too hilly. Too HARD. A wise friend recently suggested I focus on the things I CAN do (not just with running, either.) It has really helped me take a step back and put things in perspective. (As you said, Duh!) I am still not where I want to be with my running but I am now resigned to "the hills." I am learning how to stay hydrated and to keep my body temperature in a more comfortable zone. Instead of expecting midwest results from a deep south run, I am finding satisfaction in learning I CAN get through the hills (and heat/humidity). As you say, they are temporary and we have to keep plugging along. After all, there's usually a sweet downhill that makes it worthwhile. Thanks again for writing this. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who is sensitive to heat and hills.

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DJ4HEALTH 7/8/2013 9:44PM

    Where I live we have no physical hills but the heat can be one along with the wind here.

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KARRENLYNN 7/8/2013 8:49PM

    Great post, and good things to watch for while you're powering up the hill.

Hope the weather gets better for you!

Karen

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CHANGINGHORSES 7/8/2013 8:43PM

    Keep on pushing through the heat and humidity! This to shall pass!

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JACKIE542 7/8/2013 8:01PM

    Great way to think, I also have trouble with the heat and humidity, and hills. I am going to use your way of thinking about those and continue on. emoticon

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NWFL59 7/8/2013 7:01PM

    Thanks for the tips emoticon

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BIGPAWSUP 7/8/2013 6:23PM

    Awesome and so true!

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LEWILL1982 7/8/2013 4:46PM

    I had a mental hill on my bike ride Thursday, 29 miles and I couldnt figure out why I couldn't get it together. Didnt drink or eat enough the day before. Next trip out there, was a stellar improvement! By the way, I'm in north FL, it was 80 and 100% humidity yesterday morning at 7:30. Drink up and thanks for sharing!

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CAROLCRC 7/8/2013 4:11PM

    Nice summary of mental and physical hills. I bought a headband a couple of months ago that says "It's just a hill... get over it".



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MASRITE 7/8/2013 3:54PM

    Hills and I don't mix, but, I will remember this the next time I'm on one!!

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SEABREEZE65 7/8/2013 2:28PM

    Very good thoughts!!!!

Those life "hills" do affect one's running, that is for sure.

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CM_GARDNER78 7/8/2013 2:23PM

    Hills....they are often my downfall! Ha. Seriously though - great food for thought...I am certain this is probably a big chunk of my issues with not feeling it a lot of the times. I'm going to really have to reflect on what my "hills" are! Thanks!!

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WILEE323 7/8/2013 2:12PM

    I actually love the physical and mental challenge hills provide. One of my favorite workouts is running hills in a nearby cemetery.

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RUN4FOOD 7/8/2013 1:58PM

    Here in Houston it's difficult to find physical hills. You really have to search for them.
My last two non-physical hills were the heat of summer then knee pain likely from doing lunges and squats on bad knees.
Thanks for the encouragement of getting through these challenges.

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OWL_20 7/8/2013 1:50PM

    Oof, I hit hills yesterday on a 4 mile run that I didn't expect, and the 80% humidity didn't help, either. I walked up a few emoticon . Glad you recovered nicely!

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NATPLUMMER 7/8/2013 1:36PM

    emoticon

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DALID414 7/8/2013 1:05PM

    Those metaphorical hills are tougher to get through than the physical ones. emoticon

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IFDEEVARUNS2 7/8/2013 1:04PM

    Love it, especially the non-hill hills. You are right on!

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LIGHTNINGRUNNER 7/8/2013 1:01PM

    and we have "ant-hill" hills here in Florida for the most part.


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BROOKLYN_BORN 7/8/2013 12:56PM

    As a "hill-o-phobe" I had to read this immediately. I admire those who push themselves up those hills. I save my 1 min walk breaks for the steepest part of any hill.
I agree that we encounter different kinds of "hills" in our lives, but I never have to check if I'm on a real one. I can sense them looming in the distance.

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