The hardest part of my training for the upcoming half marathon has been conquering hills. In the beginning even the mildest slopes were challenging. On short runs hills are easier to avoid, but as I’ve increased my distance my only choices have been to run the same easy route (that gets boring) or to push myself over some steep obstacles (I choose the latter).
On these long, challenging runs I’ve thought about how much our lives resemble the up and down struggles I’ve experienced running hills. The past 6 months of my life illustrate my point perfectly: In my job I’ve had easy moments and weeks of craziness brought on by changes and increased responsibility. I’ve gone from planning a wedding, to a called off engagement, left to wonder if I have the energy or desire to date again. That relationship also directly affected my faith to the point I haven’t wanted to pray or even be around other Christians. There have been many highs and lows.
Life is a series of continuously rolling hills. What goes up, must come down. And then up again. Everyone wants to be on top, but a little struggle getting there is unavoidable. There have been runs I tried to avoid hilly roads only to find another just as steep, if not worse. Getting to the top is a victory – I always feel proud and accomplished when I’ve made it and glance back at what I overcame! Usually when getting to the top I get to stay there awhile, enjoy the view and the easiness of the flat run, but as the law of gravity teaches us – I can’t stay on top forever. Unless we stop, deciding to never again move forward, at some point we have to come down.
In running and life, being at the bottom isn’t all that bad. It’s easy. Comfortable. Safe. Requires little effort. The problem with staying in the valley for too long is that we don’t grow. It’s unchallenging and gets boring. Eventually we miss that feeling of elation that comes with being on top and realize we need to work our way back up, despite how uncomfortable it may be.
How fast we get to the top is unimportant. Some runs I’m able to go up and down nonstop. Others I have to walk and give my legs a break. Although very slowly, I’m currently on the ascent in other areas of my life. I’m getting comfortable with new ways of work, building a new relationship, and talking more to God. These things have been as awkward and uncomfortable as when I started running longer distances and hills. If there is one lesson we can all learn from the challenge of mastering running up and down hills it is this: Enjoy the journey and simply be thankful to be on the road.
Below are a couple of pictures over the past several weeks. I wish I could stop more to take better pictures but have to keep moving! Also, I’m $25 away from reaching my $500 goal for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. If you’d like to give please visit my Team Healthier Generation fundraising page.