Nowhere to go but up…and then down…and then back up again

When we moved to our current neighborhood I was so excited to run in a new place. It is beautiful, close to the ocean, has a lot of trails and is amazingly quiet. The only thing I didn’t notice is that the place has a LOT of hills. Big ones. Yes, I drove up and down them to get to our house. I guess I never put it together that it meant I would have to run them. Denial maybe?

A few days after our move I went on my first run. And it was hard. And I felt…defeated.

I had to stop more than once. I was pounding water. I was sucking wind. Even felt a little pukey. Ok, a lot. It was if I had never run a mile in my entire life.

I went from runs that looked like this:


To runs that looked like this:


It felt like I was starting all over again. I guess in a way I was. I had to learn to run in a whole new way. I had to do work.

I read articles about shortening my stride, slowing my pace, easing into the hill and then owning it. Most days it felt really sucky. Some days I talked myself out of it all together and headed to flat land. Then there were days that I wo-maned up and felt like a champ. I am pretty sure I looked like I was dying  most of the time but I kept at it.

Weeks went by and those hills that used to own me slowly became my friends. While the runs didn’t get easier,  I no longer had to take midhill breaks (VICTORY!). I could feel myself getting stronger. My pace slowly started to get better and instead of dreading my long runs I embraced the beauty surrounding me.  The sun coming up in the morning is breathtaking when I am able open my eyes and look at it 🙂


Months went by and I saw my race times improve. I had a short distance race on a flat course and felt like I was soaring. It was the hills. They made me a faster, stronger runner.

Love them or hate them they are good for us. Unless you have an injury where in hill training is a “no no” get out there and take on your nemesis. And at that moment when you crest your first mountain put both hands in the air, sing “We are the champions” and feel your strong. You can thank me (or punch me in the face) later.


I have a SUPER SWEET giveaway coming tomorrow. Wheeee! I’m so excited I can barely stand it.

15 thoughts on “Nowhere to go but up…and then down…and then back up again

  1. There is certainly something to be said for all of life’s “uphills” that make us appreciate the “flats” and “downhills” even more. I know I do. 😉

  2. I am horrible at running hills. Thus, why I will be doing ALL my long runs from now until Boston on a very hilly course. I also like to throw in some “hill” work outs on the treadmill.

  3. I love hills! Ok, I used to hate them, but I love them now. I feel like the engage my legs in different ways and give some muscles a break when I’m going up and others a break when I go down. But whenever I visit my parents in So Cal, the hills surrounding their neighborhood drive me CRAZY! I can’t seem to get out of the neighborhood with at least a half mile uphill run. Hahaha.

    1. Ahhhh, so true. My first mile is a 3% grade uphill from my house. It makes me nuts! But I feel ya on using different muscles. When you get used to hills running on flat for long distances almost feels harder.

  4. Yes, I have a love-hate relationship with hills. It’s pretty cool that during trail races, I can make it up the hills and pass a bunch of people… but they always pass me again on the way down. I can’t go quickly down hills because I’m clumsy and really have to watch my footing!

  5. It’s so flat here in Chicagoland that I even forget to use the hills on my treadmill. Thanks for the reminder.

    It’s killer when I’ve gone to run other places, like St. Louis and all the ups and downs of the river valley.

    Congrats on becoming an even better runner.

  6. I totally agree. I have a love/hate relationship with hills. Lucky for me, I’m surrounded by hills. It’s pretty hard to find some flat land here in Utah. But it definitely does make you a stronger runner & it’ is exhilerating once you reach the top of the hill & you don’t have to stop mid hill to rest or catch your breath.

  7. I love and miss hills…and trails…and running! Your blog is keeping me focused while I recoup from…ahem…foot surgery. Ugh. Learning to enjoy swimming in the meantime, but heart yearns for the dirty, hilly trails and a good sweat!

  8. I had a similar hill b**ch-slap when I moved from LA South Bay to Lake Elsinore. LA basic is really flat. Lake Elsinore/Murrieta/Temecula, not so much. Then moving to Oceanside didn’t get any better. But it does make you stronger and I love that hills don’t really scare me any more (ok, maybe a little if it’s a really steep bugger).

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