I have a friend from the Y, Jim Steinebach, who helped me learn how to run hills. Several months ago, a few friends and I headed out to run with him for a “hilly 6 mile loop” which in reality was probably the hilliest 6 miles I’ve ever run! With my last two ironmans in Texas and Arizona, I really haven’t trained to run hills. But thanks to Jim, I not only survived, I had a great run. This is his advice: When you’re coming up on a big hill, shorten your stride, relax your upper body, and look at the pavement only 5 feet ahead. Physically, looking only 5 feet ahead puts your head level-in a position to get the most air possible. Looking up at the top of the hill cranes your head up and cuts off part of your air supply- not what you want when running, especially hills! But psychologically, looking only 5 feet ahead, instead of at the top of the big hill, gives you a positive perspective. Instead of one huge hill, there are lots of 5 foot hills. Anyone can run a 5 foot hill! See the difference?
I discovered that this same theory works when I’m biking big hills on Egypt Valley. I still relax my body, especially my arms. Instead of shortening my stride, I gear down to the low gear. Then I only look 10 feet ahead. There’s a one mile climb on Egypt Valley between 3 Mile Road and Block Orchard. For years, that hill has intimidated me. But not now!!! It’s only 10 feet tall. Well, in reality it’s 1 mile of 10 foot hills. But now I have the psychological advantage and I actually enjoy the ride up! ( so much that on my last three rides I had to repeat it again!!!!)
As I rode this morning, I realized that this too is a great life lesson. When I focus on problems in life, especially ones in the future, they seem like big hills. Why don’t I just look 5 or 10 feet ahead? When my kids struggled with reading in 1st grade, it did me no good to worry if they would make it through high school English class. When I broke my toe last summer, it didn’t help me to worry if I would run in November without pain. Now that my kids are in the “terrible teens” I mean “wonderful teens” I need to stop worrying about whether or not they will be successful adults. Just look five feet ahead. Look at today. Look at this week. What can I do to help them be successful now? I guess that’s what Jesus had in mind when He said, “Do not worry about tomorrow. Each day has enough trouble of its own”. AMEN!
So my goal now on life’s hills is to take my running and biking perspective- just 5 feet ahead (today) or just 10 feet ahead (this week). Maybe if I do, I’ll not only make it through, but enjoy the ride. What do you think?