Hills… one step at a time… going up.

A walker, not a runner, I have been challenging myself the last couple of months to complete the 2.7-mile path I love by completely jogging it…no stopping…my goal: by January 1, 2016.

I have either been jogging the flat parts and stopping when I get to hills or jogging the hills and walking the flat stretches but not able to put both together… UNTIL TODAY!!!

Goal accomplished…I completely jogged with the exception of stopping for three sips of water half way around at a fountain.

Several days ago I began to use a new strategy to psychologically make it easier, especially at the two steepest hills.

While looking up often enough to keep an eye on people and make sure there is nothing that looks like it will trip me, I started pretending that there are no hills.

By looking only at the pavement my feet are touching, one step at a time, I imagine that the whole trail is flat. That way, when I get to a hill, rather than looking ahead and creating assumptions about running out of breath, or that it is too long, or that I will never make it, I only focus on the pavement straight down. That way I cannot even see the hill.

When I pretend everything is flat there is no reason to stop… and… nothing is going to stop me.

I reimagine the trail.

I am in a completely new perspective. While it is one that fools me or tricks me, it also allows me to conquer what I want to conquer. There is no harm done in the reimagining. In fact, it positively and optimistically fuels me to go after the challenge. I feel myself begin to thrive.

I focus on the power of “now,” the moment each foot is stepping and nothing more. I find myself more relaxed. My breath is more even. I don’t anticipate a negative challenge or believe any longer that “I can’t.”

Music helps.

Once I started to look at the trail this way, I knew I could do it. In the significant shift of perspective, I was able to visualize myself celebrating at the end. My determination grew exponentially as did my confidence.

I also started at one of the steep hills rather than on the flat stretches. Get one of the hardest places over first.

My strategy can be applied to the steep hills in my life and days when I am not sure if I am going to make it to the top or not… when I want to stop or feel I have no breath for it…when I want to turn back or take it so slowly that I am essentially ignoring facing the reality.

It might be the to do list that seems overwhelming and mysterious in how to accomplish it.

It might be a challenging life change.

It might be relationships.

It might be writing.

It might be oh so many things.

It might be…well…life. Life is not all flat.

All flat would be boring.

Some hills I choose.

Others – not so much or even definitely not…they all of a sudden loom in front of me just when all seems smooth.

When I stand at the bottom at look at the incline of each hill, not knowing if I can do it, confidence falls away, doubt comes crashing in, breathing becomes ragged- even feeling like hyperventilation. It is too much.

It is impossible to remember in those moments that there is the easier downhill side, even though going down hills calls for more attentiveness than on the flat parts, where I can fly.

Even when I can and nothing should stop me, I don’t always take off and fly on the flat places because I feel I have to pace myself and save up to make it up the hills… store up the energy and wherewithal.

I live in a self-limiting mindset all the way around when that is the case.

And if I encounter something on the path that I did not see in a first scan or surprises me, I will figure it out, realizing it is only a temporary detour and I can always reimagine again.

There is no limit to reimagining.

It does not mean I fall in love with all the hills. Some, I do.

It does mean that with each one I master, I get stronger for the next one and prepare for the one with the much longer, steeper climb where the top is so far away I cannot see it clearly.

In the meantime, I celebrate today. One hill at a time. One step at a time.







  1. Jen Knoedl on December 9, 2015 at 8:14 pm

    Woo-hoo! congrats on your goal! You go on with your bad self.
    I believe Dr King said ” You don’t have to see the whole stairwell to take the next few steps which is similar to what Mom always says “just do the next right thing.”

    Good for you! Your health is your wealth!

    • Dawn Sully Pile on December 9, 2015 at 8:22 pm

      Thank you! Yes, healthy feels best! Love the Dr. King quote, too.

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