One thing I have been told about this specific race (the Nashville Half-Marathon) is that it has a lot of hills, so I need train going up and down hills. This is pretty much the exact opposite of what I want to do. I think for most people, myself included, running on a flat surface is easier and therefore, preferred.
As I was climbing up a L-O-N-G hill this morning I started thinking that it would be nice if the miles I climbed counted as double the mileage, because, you know, they are difficult.
But they don't.
They do, however, make me stronger. They push me. They keep me honest and humble. The hills make me a better runner. I can't say I enjoy them, but I am thankful for them. Some days are better than others. If I am feeling drained heading into the hills I do my best, keep my feet moving and make it happen. If I am feeling good I try to push it, get some speed and turn up the gas, leaving it all on the pavement.
Such is life. I am just coming out of a season that felt like a long climb. Where sometimes the best I could do was just keep moving...slowly but steadily. Picking my head up, taking deep breaths, and shuffling forward…ever so slowly, but forward nonetheless.
And now as I am coming out of that uphill season I can appreciate how I am stronger and (hopefully) wiser because of it. Pain and discomfort are great teachers if we let them. It takes tearing the muscle to make it stronger. I don’t like that fact, but that’s the way it works. That doesn't make the tearing or the pain easier, but the pain is not without purpose.
A last thought about hills, in both life and in running…the uphill climbs allow me to truly celebrate when I am on flat ground or going downhill. Before I began training on hills I hardly noticed this or would take it for granted. But there are seasons and times we should be celebrating. When you come out of a long, hard, uphill battle that relief feels sweet, as it should. And I can appreciate this in a new and honest way both in my real life and as I am running.