How I Went From Hating Hills To Loving Them As I Do Today.
Today I went out and hammered out another 16 mile run around the hills. It was a beautiful day for running and my body felt so strong that I kept on running further and further into the countryside.
I’d only planned on running 8 miles so I didn’t bring any drinks or gels with me.
Surprisingly I ran one of my greatest negative splits to date with each of my last 3 miles being sub 9 minute. I’ve checked the timing for my last 5k and I came in at 26:55 which is my fastest ever!
At the moment I totally fucking love hill running.
But it wasn’t always this way.
Back when I was 280lbs I hated the notion of hills. Walking up them would make me all sweaty and out of breath. I’d have serious shin splints after 5 minutes of slow walking.
I’d sweat right through my clothes and would have to change when I got home. It was embarrassing and I did anything I could to avoid any form of strenuous exercise because of this.
Loved them pies. Hated them hills.
Even the uphill jaunt to my house from the shopping centre was too much for me. So much so that I’d always call a taxi to take me the mile ‘journey’ home.
Still hating on the hills.
In my first few years as a runner I still fucking hated them with a passion. I could never maintain the same pace that I could on even ground.
I always kept to a flat route around town and put them to the back of my mind until race day where I’d be daunted by the prospect of any climbing whatsoever.
My first half marathon in Larne consisted of the greatest hill I’d ran to date. To say that I was unprepared for it is an understatement.
I stopped halfway up the climb to catch my breath and swore at the hill for existing.
I would have shaken my fist at it too but there were other runners around me at the time and I didn’t want to appear off my tits on disco biccies.
Suffice to say, my anger at the hill did not make it disappear.
That’s the thing about hills. They do exist. You can ignore them until race day like I did, or you can work with them to improve as a runner.
Now that I’ve had time to reflect, I can see that I wasn’t fearful of the hills as such, rather I was worried about being exposed as unfit.
It was the same deal when I was obese. I didn’t want to acknowledge that I was really out of shape.
I just wanted to stay within my bubble and get wankered on German biscuits.
You can only really begin to improve your fitness by accepting where you are now.
Rather than viewing them as an unnecessary nuisance, I try to see hills as a natural way to improve as a runner.
They’ll always catch me out at some point, leaving me hopelessly out of breath and begging for death.
But that’s the feedback that I need to gauge where I am fitness wise.
I started on them this time last year and I remember running uphill for maybe 2 minutes and turning back down out of exhaustion.
I viewed it as a dismal failure at the time as it was my goal to make it to the top.
I didn’t give up.
Over the next few months I lowered my expectations a little and celebrated any progress I made with them.
I’d make it 3 minutes up the hill. Then 5 minutes. Then 10.
Then eventually I made it all the way.
It takes some time, but you too can start to love hill running if you give it a chance and start slowly.
You can either begin with running up a little hill, or running a little up a huge hill.
It all counts and it will make you a stronger run!
P.S. Today’s run wasn’t all positive.
Two dogs broke out of a hillside farm. Both were tailing me for a quarter of a mile. I had to slow down to prove that I wasn’t afraid of them.
I said ‘hello!’ numerous times to the biggest one which I think was the ringleader.
It knew I was a suspicious looking bastard and it could smell the fear off me. I wanted to sprint away but it would have caught me.
Fortunately both of them got bored and fucked off. But for 10 minutes I was the Pied Piper of East fucking Antrim.