watch your words
One of my big, overall beliefs about how the world works is that the words we use can impact our lives in really big, important ways. Usually, I’m pretty great at choosing positive ones, and speaking about myself and my experiences in positive terms. One time that goes out the window? Running up a hill.
Hill training has never been my favourite part of running, to put it mildly. Hills could not care less about your excuses. It doesn’t matter to a hill that you were too tired to run last week, or that it was raining the last time you skipped your training run, or that you don’t like running in the winter. The hill just sits there, challenging you, and it’s really easy to react negatively.
If I recorded my inner dialogue when running up a hill, it probably goes a little something like this. “Oh my god I don’t want to I’m dying is it over can I stop I want to stop I think I’m going to stop I’m dying….” For the next half a kilometer or so, I’m hyperaware of incline changes I would never notice otherwise. “Are you kidding me? This section of the Canal never used to be uphill!”
The thing is, I love running. I love feeling stronger the next time I tackle a route I’ve already done. I love feeling good-sore the next day. Hills are a part of that, and they feature prominently in some of my favourite running routes. Since changing the hills is mostly out of the question, and since I prefer positivity, I came up with a few specific thoughts as my go-tos when tackling a hill.
Instead of “I’m dying,” “I’m strong.” Instead of “I want to stop,” “I can keep going.” Instead of “I don’t want to,” “I love running.”
Now, I’m by no means saying that I won’t still default to the negative thoughts, but it takes a lot less energy to default to replacements I’ve already thought of. And let’s be serious, my quads need all the energy I can spare to power up that hill.
Edit: I have devolved into giving my muscles ridiculous pep talks when running up hills. Standouts include “Dear my quads, you might as well be the quads of a fifteen-year-old professional soccer star” and “Hey glutes, you have the power to launch a thousand ships.” Please, please keep in mind this is while in what can only be described as incredible amounts of pain. Don’t judge me.