What’s that coming over the hill? Er, it’s me…

My hometown, Clevedon in North Somerset, is built on and around a big hill. I grew up living in a lovely house near the top of that hill.

My current home, the ultra-stylish* Richmond-upon-Thames suburb of Ham, is next to the River Thames. As long as you steer clear of nearby Richmond Park, Ham is basically flat.

I mention this because I took a trip back to Clevedon last weekend, and that meant the weekend’s long marathon training runs (ten miles Saturday, five Sunday) involved running up and down steep Clevedon hills. And running up and down hills hurts. It’s hard work.

Honestly, had I been forced to take on steep hills on a regular basis when I started my running kick two years ago, I don’t know I’d have stuck with it. Some genuine advice: if you’re starting out, find somewhere flat to run.

Running up a big hill saps the power from your legs amazingly quickly – and it can sap your willpower even faster. That happens when your lungs start to burn and your leg muscles begin to ache – and you look ahead to realise you haven’t even reached the steep bit yet.

And yet, that said… now I’ve been running for a few years, hills are a challenge. They’re an obstacle to be scaled, a proving ground of my stamina and willpower. I wouldn’t necessarily say I look forward to running up a steep hill, but… well… I look forward to the challenge of it. I think. Plus, apparently running up hills is good training.

It still hurts, of course. Running up a steep hill is going to hurt. And running up a steep hill is going to slow you down. But when I see a hill approaching, and run towards it excited by the challenge rather than daunted by the prospect – well, I’ll take that as a sign that I actually must quite like this running malarky…

*This may be an exaggeration


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