What Running Hills Teaches You About Life


Hills lie.

It’s my mantra while I’m running. A hill in mile two will tell you that you are way too tired to finish five. A hill at mile 10 (or 25) will tell you there is no way you can finish 26.2. A particularly ornery hill may tell you that you can’t even make it to the top — that even though you can see that street sign at the crest, you’ll never make it.

But hills lie. Hills will tell you that you are depleting your energy, your muscles, your endurance, and you won’t have enough to finish. Hills will tell you that you aren’t as good as you thought you were.

Hills will tell you that you hate running, but hills lie.

If you push through it, hills will tell you “fine, just get to the top and then you can walk for a minute. You’ll need to recuperate, and you earned it” — but it’s a lie of omission. It doesn’t remind you that when you get to the top, even though you will be panting and dripping and burning — it will surrender. Hills don’t want you to know you can recover.

You must tune out what the road tells your body — the lyrics of its taunting song are written in the ink of shallow superlatives and empty ‘nevers’. You’ll never make it. This is the hardest. You’ll never finish. You are the weakest.

You can’t see over the hill, but the perspective of the road is even lower. Do not follow the blind. The road is only your enemy until you learn its manipulative games. Until you let your legs and your lungs be louder than the lies. Until you listen to the sky, who can SEE the other side and is chanting in the wind that it. gets. easier.

You will get to the top. It will relent and you will keep running. Do not expect ease with the first step of flat ground, do not give up when you don’t get it. Prevailing is pushing through four or five more before suddenly your breath is returning and your legs are rejoicing and yet you are still running. You are stronger than the hill wants you to believe. You are stronger than you supposed.

There will be rest, yes, but you don’t need it yet. Remember this.

Hills lie. It’s my mantra while I’m running — and when I’m not.

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