Everyone has a different mantra while they run. Last year during the Hood to Coast, I read Haruki Murakami's book "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running." It was probably the best thing I could have read at the time and I really think that a lot of the nuggets of wisdom from the book helped me through the race. One was Murakami's mantra: "Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional." Whenever I was in pain during the race, I told myself this mantra and I'd like to think it helped. For a while now, I haven't really had a mantra of my own, but if I have, it's probably been something like this: "The faster you finish, the faster you'll be done." While this has worked for a while, I feel like it's not really the best approach as it really does nothing for me when I'm in a rough spot.
Maybe the most optimistic mantra I've heard is that of my friend and teammate Bryce, whose mantra is this: "Hills are your friend." I wish that this could be my mantra, I really do. I just can't do it though. As much as I tried to like them, hills and I have never been on good terms. I'll be in the middle of a decent run (or near death like I was during the last leg of the Hood to Coast last year) and then a hill will come along and make things worse. So this year, I decided to try something different- train for the hills.
When I ran the 7 mile loop around my house, the most brutal part was towards the end of the run when I came to the large uphill by the Mormon temple by my house. So yesterday, I drove to the bottom of the hill and ran it. The uphill is part of a 1.5 mile loop that I used to live on, and it goes steadily uphill for about 3/4 of a mile before turning back downhill.
I went out to the loop planning to do it 3 times without stopping. Not only would this get me in shape on this hills, but it would get me out of my usual pattern of having to stop at a ton of traffic lights, forcing me to run the 4.5 miles nearly non-stop.
As it turned out, this was easier said than done. I made it through the first lap without much of a problem. Then the sun decided to make things interesting and warm up about 15 degrees. Suddenly, I was nearing T-Rex mode on only the second lap and being absolutely baked by the sun. Somehow I made it up the hill, but I didn't think I would be able to do another lap without a break.
I've noticed a pattern in my train of thought when I'm running. I always tend to make the worst decisions when I'm running downhill. Decisions like "10 miles is totally doable today," or "I can definitely do 3 more laps of this." Then I come to a section of the run that actually tests me and I start to hate my life and my poor decision making skills. It's a vicious cycle.
On the run yesterday, I started downhill on my second lap and decided it would be a good idea to just go for it and run a third lap. After all, it was what I had set out to do at the start of the run. Of course, I got to the start of the hill and remembered how badly I had felt on the last lap. Still, I wasn't about to turn back, so I steadily made my way back up the hill. Soon enough, the run was done and so were my legs. Still, I felt like I was a step closer to liking hills. For now, we're still not friends. Frenemies maybe.