Wednesday, 20 July 2011

The C word

I got a row for using the C word.  As usual it was in relation to my run this morning. I sent a text to Clark saying I had managed my 5 mile run but had made the mistake of attempting to run up Laggan Hill.  I have a complete mental block when it comes to hills.  My head says I can do it and I really want to do it but my legs have a different idea. They just stop.  We have endless conversations about why this happens and so far I haven't found the answer.  So when I said I had a good run but still can't do hills I got the reply "stop using that f*cking word - it is not in my dictionary!" (the * wasn't me, you know I have no problem writing or saying fuck and all its derivatives) 

I don't know how to get round this.  Even wee gradual inclines floor me mentally.  I'm constantly seeking flat routes to run (and cycle) but as I'm increasing my mileage it's getting harder to find decent routes without just going 10 times round the block.  I'm gonna have to run up hills cos something else has started happening.  When I grind to a halt, my head fills with more than just running related crap.  I'm a half empty glass kinda person so even when there's a lot of great stuff going on I'll always be focusing on the negative.

As I walked up the hill I tried to force myself into thinking positive thoughts. I've been reading a few books on the subject but I think deep down I don't actually believe what they say.  Visualising myself running up the hill just doesn't work.  Chanting like 'the little engine who could' doesn't work either.  The thing is I'm sure I'm physically fit enough to do it now.

I could avoid hills but as I improve I'm discovering what kind of runs I like. I like off road, I like loops rather than out and back runs.  And I like running down hills.  In this weekend's upcoming club relay event I requested the run down from the dam.  5 miles straight down!

Not using the C word is simplifying the problem.  I could say I have difficulty running up hills.  But the truth is right now I can't go up hills and I don't know why.


  1. Ali, try this; Don't look up! Just focus, head down, on the ground immediately ahead. Hills are only big when you can see how big they are. If you concentrate on getting up the hill in the same condition you started in you will get there. Just keep your breathing at the same rate. No probs!! Worked for me!

  2. When I ran, I hated hills too Ali. But, Alex sorted it for me by telling me to do exactly as your friend Davie has suggested; don't look up - AT ALL! I would start singing a song at the bottom, taking wee steps in time to the song, and before I knew it I'd be at the top. In fact, sometimes I'd be past the top and not even realise - I'd still be looking down and singing away to myself a good bit along the straight later! Hope you find something that works for you. x

  3. Maybe this is because you're a born ultra-runner :-)

    Try what JK does and run up for 20 breaths before walking. And take smaller steps. Also try some step reps or short hill reps, to get your legs used to it. I used to dislike hills. Now I don't like flats. Go figure.

    Debs xx

    Ps: come and work in my office, the c word is used frequently. Actually if you're called a c, that's a compliment :-)

  4. Hills are OK, they're a real excuse for going a bit slower. Debs has already given the key, take smaller steps (very small)...

  5. That's interesting ... Katrina was struggling running up hills and was holding her breath (not sure why??) but as she's got fitter she's been able to feel stronger.

    Lots of good advice already and I would say stick at it and it will come. You'll find a way to get up.

    Counting my breaths works for me but experiment and if you want it you will do it.

    PS I like the head down idea ... let me know how you find that one. Makes sense to me.

  6. "I can't go uphills" is certainly not true. Lean forward and fall into the hill. A bit of chirunning philosophy. But if it does not work for you. Don't worry if it does not work. Marco (who is a superior athlete to me) walks a lot of the uphills as fast as I "run" them. So walk them.

    The only and most important advise I can give you is to try to enjoy the uphills!

    I just LOVE the uphills. Scotland is not flat. The Alps are not flat. Try to find a lower gear for "running" the uphills. Or just bloody walk them!!! Uphill "running" or "walking" is just a superiour way of exercising. You burn more calories. You are not putting as much stress on your knees as when you are running flat. And you end up enjoying he view from the higher viewpoint.

  7. I remember when Erin was about four struggling to tie her laces wailing “I can’t do it!” I did the there’s no such thing as can’t. She answered straight back with “Of course there is! I can’t pee out my elbow!”

    I wouldn’t say you can’t run up a hill, it’s just you haven’t found your technique yet, what I do is use little steps and lots of ‘em.

  8. The 'head down' technique works for me and it works well on a bike too, but I think it's more difficult than it sounds. If you're on a very long or steep hill, you really have to resist the temptation to look up to check where you are, because the top is almost always still further away than you thought it would be. I sometimes also count to myself, promising I won't look up until I get to, say 200.

  9. Debs, wash your mouth out!! Born ultra runner my arse!!!!! PMSL!

    Head down, don't look up, lean into the hill, baby steps, count, sing and breath. Sorted!

    Actually the breathing thing is an interesting point. I don't think I am breathing. I have a tendency to hold my breath during some exercises!

    Thanks guys. I'll keep trying. Something's bound to work!

  10. So what are these 'hills' of which you speak? ;-)

  11. All of the above sound like great advice. The only thing this utter novice can add is that the head-down technique has got me up the gentle slopes in Edinburgh that I can't avoid! Combined with shortening my stride so that I'm almost running on the spot ... I think I'm up to at least six inches now!


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