Sunday, April 10, 2011

Overcoming Hills and Learning "Drive"

Okay... I didn't mean... literally learning to drive, like in a car, but learning to find my DRIVE... what keeps me going, where my inspiration is, and how I got here...

Let's start today off with a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: "You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along' . . . You must do the thing you think you cannot do."

--I can relate this quote to MANY aspects of my life. i.e. At work... I have been calling random (at least to me) vendors that I do not know, and getting important information from them... I HATED CALLING PEOPLE I DID NOT KNOW!!! In fact, when I was a child, I would get another person in my family to order pizza, call for a phone number, etc!  This was one of my biggest childhood fears I never really dealt with, but always felt awkward and just avoided at all costs!!!  When the opportunity for this "job"/"challenge" came to my attention, I decided to take it... take it on with the idea, what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.  The first phone call I ever made on my job (this is not a part of my job description, but I took it on to help another co-worker), I walked into an empty office... wrote down every word I was going to say, practiced it at LEAST 5 times, and then finally called the company.  I was not doing cold calling, but just getting important information for our company to have on file, and I was TERRIFIED!  THANK GOODNESS that every person I talked to in the first five phone calls was incredibly nice and easy to work with...

I continued this: empty office, practice 5 times, call unconfidently at least 10 times.  By the eleventh time, I decided I could go to my own desk and make these phone calls, still feeling a slight unease. BUT lo and behold... today I can call just about ANYONE and not have to practice 10 times. I feel more confident about it, which I hope shows in my tone of voice!! I guess where I am getting with this "side story" is that the more you practice, the easier it is. Sometimes you have to face your fears and know you can get past this, you can overcome this... you are strong!

So, let's talk about these hills I am referring to.  I am not referring to the metaphoric hills that probably most of you are thinking I am referring to... I am talking about LITERAL HILLS that you have to run up and overcome!  I used to absolutely despise hills and avoid them at all costs. (In Houston, especially the outskirts where I am from,  it is VERY VERY easy to avoid them!)  They are hard, they make you exhausted, they are DEFINITELY not fun, and you actually have to work harder to run up them... NO THANKS!

When I was at LSU, a friend of mine that I met at freshman orientation was a big runner ever since she was young.  She gave me a bit of advice that her father once gave her: With hills, let your legs do the work and keep your upper body relaxed! Ya right, I thought... I tried over and over and over and over with the little, tiny, miniature hills that Baton Rouge had when I used to run around the lakes there, and they just about hilled me! (I mean, killed me...)

Ugh, hills, sucked! There was no ifs, ands or buts about it!  Then I ran across another girl that I had the luxury of getting to know very well from UT and she told me she loved hills!!! I told her I thought she was crazy, but she didn't care. She told me she loved the drive, strength and feeling of overcoming each hill! That is what kept her going.  If you asked me at that time in my life (and I had already run a few ... maybe 3 half marathons) what I thought about hills, I would tell you that they absolutely sucked and they will never get easier.

...well, I lied.  So what changed?  I have no idea.  Maybe my determination, maybe that I have become more competitive with every race, the idea of letting myself down (slowing down and letting all of these people pass me) ... no, the fact is, I wont let myself down... so I push myself harder! Hills push me harder!

Let's rewind: Ft. Worth Cowtown Half Marathon

A harder half than any other half I have ever run. But, I always seem to get my best time with that race.  Why you ask? One word, hills.  ...Not just one, many, many, MANY long, hard, challenging HILLS! Whenever I reach hills, I tend to speed up. I don't know why, but I take each and every one on as a challenge.  Instead of stopping at the top of them, I just tell myself "I can recover once I am at the top, but I cannot stop until I am there".  Once I am there I say,"No you cannot stop or you will let yourself down with a slower time! You did not just do all of that work for nothing! Just slow down and catch your breath!"

So REALLY, WHAT CHANGED??? I'll tell you what changed:

#1 Improvement: Once I started seeing better results, I wanted to keep striving to be better than the last results.

#2 Competitiveness:  No, I am not competitive at all... haha Yeah right! No, but I will have to rewind you even FURTHER to the day before I was supposed to run my first marathon:

Location: Collina's
Meal: Lunner before my first half
Company: Dad, Brother, Husband, Father-in-law, Mother-in-law...aka JB, and Grandmother-in-law, DL)

JB: MG (my dad will be known as), I have to tell you this funny story that I heard at work.

Note: I am not putting this in quotes, because I am sure I am not saying it EXACTLY how JB said it, and it might be a tad subjective. BUT, this really did happen!!!

JB: I work with a few ladies in my running group, and they were talking about you the other day... (Referring to my dad)

Here's what they said!!!!

Ladies in JB's Running Group Talking:  Oh yes, that MG is a beast!  Did you know he can out-run his 24 year old daughter!?!?


No, absolutely not, I will not put up with this. (Although, at the time is was absolutely true)  I was not going to let older women talk about me not being able to out-run my father!! He was in way better shape than me, and I was challenged. Not that I was in bad shape, but my +50 year old father could out-run me!! Props to my father!!  He is such an amazing person, inside and out, and I hope to be in that great of shape when I am that age!  But me... HALF HIS AGE was out-runned by my father!

(Okay, okay, yes... I am competitive) JB was completely taken by surprise that I was not proud of my father but incredibly offended!!! haha...

I took this on as a challenge, I could not let this be the story that was gossiped around by people in my father's age group!!!  I had to match him or pass him!! NO IFS ANDS OR BUTS!

From then on, I have not let my father beat me... (Although, I think he secretly lets me beat him...)

...So yes, my competitiveness drives me.

So here is my "HOW TO" overcome hills while running and finding your drive so to speak:

#1. Relax the Upper Body
     -this is key when pushing yourself past your limits.  If you learn to breath normally, as if you were holding a conversation or just going about your normal day, you will avoid the hyperventilation/hard breathing/shortness of breathe/horrible feeling when you are conquering your hill

#2 Let the Legs do all the Work
     -Literally, relax the upper body and use your legs. Your breathing will be normal and your legs will be burning... but hey, there is nothing like that lactic acid burn! ;) No but really, although you have less energy to do this, push through it and you will get stronger and just know your body will recover quickly afterwards

#3 Get some jammin' music on your MP3 player
     -Thank you JHVD for providing me with some amazing music on my iPod!!!  She is an amazing personal trainer/group ex teacher. She teaches AMAZING cycling classes and has a ton of music with great beats! I just pretend I am in her cycling classes and run to the beat as if I was pedaling with each beat!  Good music really helps for a good run (I will save my music and running for a later post).

With those three ingredients, you will be able to overcome any hill/mountain (well I don't know about the latter, but I would hope so) that comes your way!  Just find what drives you, stick with it, and you will be able to overcome anything!


  1. i love your posts!!! I want to love to run but still pretty much do it as a "chore". Hoping it gets better soon!

  2. You are SO inspiring me for my workout tomorrow morning!! I'm looking forward to your running/music post! I'm in desperate need for some good running tunes! (P.S. I love 'lunner' my house we call it "linner" hahaha)

  3. Thanks y'all!
    @Anne: I completely understand running as a "chore"! In fact, I kind of treat it as a meeting on my "to-do" list!!! I make it something I HAVE to do and make time for it... otherwise I will make excuses!! I am sure it will get better soon!!

    @ Heather: I can't wait to write my running/music post!!! Hang in there... i'll get to it!!! (We called in linner growing up too... but to me lunner makes more sense... more of a mix of lunch/dinner!! haha <3 you~

  4. You are right--the more you practice and take on the hard stuff, the easier it becomes, until one day you ask yourself what you feared in the first place. Excellent pointers on how to take on literal hills and figurative hills!