I took advantage of the long weekend to hit the trails for a long run each day. As always, what I left on the trails is nothing compared to what I took from them. Along those dirt trails this weekend, I took away one lesson in particular.
Take the hill. When trail running, I find myself constantly having to make decisions. Which path should I take? How many miles should I run? How long should I run? What pace should I run? There are a number of spots on the trails when I can choose to run up a hill or take a flatter path. This weekend, I noticed that I always make the same decision at these junctures. I take the hill. Always.
It’s a split second decision that I have made unconsciously countless times, and I had never given it much thought until this weekend. At one point this afternoon, thanks to a return of the heat and humidity that was absent from my two previous runs, I was fatigued and dehydrated. Two very good reasons to not take the hill, but in the end, I took the hill. Why?!
As crazy as it may sound, even when my legs and lungs launch a united protest, I love the feeling of digging my shoes into the dirt and powering my way up the hill. It pushes me physically and mentally, and there are times, I have to slow my run to a walk to make it. No matter how I get to the top, I get there. And the rewards at the top are worth every step and breath I struggled to take to get there.
There is a sense of satisfaction that comes from taking the hill that cannot be achieved by taking a flatter path. The views are incredible too, as it places me well above the dirt paths and the creek that wind their way through the woods, and it feels like a Leonardo DiCaprio I’m the king of the world kind of moment. So far, I have refrained from reenacting that cinematic scene, as I have taken quiet satisfaction in reaching the top of that hill and all of the other ones on my trail runs.
As I ran up those hills this weekend, it occurred to me how often we all come to those crossroads in life off of the trails, when we have to decide whether to take the hill or take the easier trail. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking the easier path, if it leads you to the same end results, I have found that easy does not always translate into better.
Sometimes, even though it may take longer and/or be more challenging, you can learn a great deal about yourself, build up physical, mental, and spiritual strength that you never thought possible, and have a much deeper appreciation for the view from the top. Some benefits can only be attained from taking the hill, when good is transformed into great.
It can be difficult to recognize any of these benefits during a particularly tough climb, and that lack of recognition is what sometimes knocks us off of the trail and sends us tumbling back down the hill. It also is what keeps some of us from even trying to make the ascent. If we want to reach our goals, though, we have to be willing to take risks and climb. And keep climbing until we get to the top. Then, we need to get ready for the next hill.
We all face hills, and we have to decide how or if we are going to climb the hills. On the trails, I always scale the hills, and off the trails, I am in various stages of the climbing process in several areas of my life. Some of these hills in my personal life and professional life have made me question what the point of the ascent is, while other have made me question my ability to reach the proverbial top. I keep climbing, though, because going back is not an option. I have experienced good, and I want to know what great is. I may not have all of the answers or know when I will get up and over each of these figurative hills, I just know that I will. Because I take the hill. Always!
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story