Uphill Mentality

Barely moving and struggling beyond measure, you feel like you are running up a hill. You have never felt more alone and defeated. You wipe the sweat off and tell yourself, “Just a little more, I am almost there.” No matter what you tell yourself, the top of the hill seems just out of reach. We have all been there. Whether this hill was a physical hill, a mental barrier, or an emotional low, life gives you hills. How you get up and over these hills is all about perspective.

Recently, I moved to what I believe is the hilliest area of Minnesota (both physical and metaphorical hills). The fall trees line the bike paths and the roads twist and wind up the hills. While I enjoy the beauty, this landscape is not very advantageous to my marathon training. I find myself barely moving up these hills and doubting myself. I become skeptical in my abilities as an athlete and runner. Additionally, this new area has brought academic and professional hills into my life. I have a seemingly never-ending reading list in combination with projects and a part-time job. Things are different for me. I am surrounded by new hills I never thought I would be next to. I have felt alone, unprepared, and incapable. I have been confused and lost. One thing I will never do, no matter the size of the hill, is stop moving forward. My pace may suffer, but I will keep moving no matter how hard it is.

For the first few weeks after my move, I found myself dreading my runs. Now for someone who uses running as an outlet, this was my worst nightmare coming true. I wanted to make excuses to avoid my workouts because I did not like the uphill struggle and feeling of failure. Every bit of my being wanted to give up, because it was (and still is) a demanding task. Running up a hill is one of the more cruel and unusual forms a punishment a recreational runner puts themselves through. Why would I keep doing this to myself? As I said before, giving up was not an option no matter how much I pleaded with myself internally. It was not until one sweltering day I realized I had been thinking of the hills all wrong. I had an uphill mentality, and this was carrying over into other aspects of my life. I nearly let these mere pieces of landscape define my ability as an athlete. How ridiculous does that sound? The same can be said for the workload we are all given at some point in life. Why would you let the amount of work you have to do define your ability to be successful? When you have this uphill mentality, things seem impossible. I do not have the answers for getting over your metaphorical hills (or mountains) but what I do know, is the real challenge lies in changing your thoughts from “WOW this is a struggle” to “I will dominate this, and I will use this opportunity to improve myself!” I also know that we are all capable of changing our attitude towards our hills, and that is an exciting thought.

My take-aways:

  1. If you fail, fail forward.

No matter how big the hill or how slow you might be going, progress is progress. Successes and failures give you opportunities and perspective to improve yourself. Use these moments to learn about yourself and your abilities.

  1. Win the mile.

Life is a marathon, not a sprint. This is so clique, but it is so true. You must take each challenge in your life one step at a time. You will always feel like you are running up hill if you cannot focus on the present obstacle. The only thing you can do is make the most of each moment you are given, and the rest will fall into place.

  1. You are enough.

You have the potential to do anything you want to do and be anything you want to be. Do not let a little piece of earth (a hill) get in your way of reaching this full potential.

Hills in life are inevitable. The beauty of these hills can be found with the right mindset and support system. We all struggle with our hills, but knowing you are not on the uphill run by yourself is such a refreshing feeling. And remember, with any uphill struggle comes a downhill slide.

Thanks for reading!

“Its ok to fail as long as you don’t give up.” -from one of the thousands of pages I have read in the last month.

-Mikaela

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