The first part of this year has contained some of the most challenging moments of my life. As I recently said to a friend “the second half of 2013 has GOT to be better!”
In order to start the last six months off right I decided to do something I have never done before–I took a vacation by myself. There were no friends or family to help pick the location or plan the itinerary, I simply decided to get away for a few days.
I ran a race while on vacation and (as always) I use those miles as a chance to reflect on where I am, what I want and what I hope to be.
I thought about how sometimes when you are running on flat pavement it seems so hard to go another step. Your feet ache, your lungs hurt and you want to stop going. Then suddenly you are on a slight incline and you can feel your calves start to burn. Suddenly the straightaways seem much more manageable, even desirable, because you are now experiencing the pain of the incline.
Then there are the times when you are on a really steep hill–huffing and puffing and praying for the road to go back to the slight incline that plagued you only minutes before.
In short, running teaches us the depths of what we can handle.
Sometimes the things we think are so difficult are actually the flat pavement moments in life. As we experience more challenges (like the inclines) we feel the intensity heighten and we think that we can’t possibly handle anymore discomfort. That’s when the steep hills come and challenge everything you think, believe and know.
It is in the steep hills that we often have moments of extreme doubt.
We think we cannot go a step further. The pain seems too great. But what I now know–both in running and in life–is that the exact moment that we conquer the steep hills is when we feel our strongest. The steep hills entice us to quit, give up and question our own worth. The moment we make the decision to push on despite the pain and doubt we win–every time.
Making the conscious decision to keep going is the bravest act we can do.
As we head into the second half of this year, I will take these lessons with me knowing that every steep hill has a lesson to teach and that there is no hill that I can’t overcome. And that is what they mean when they say to “enjoy the journey”–even the painful parts!
Here is to the next six months and to all of us having the strength to get through the flat pavement, slight inclines and steep hills that the next 180 days or so have in store for each of us.
What have you learned about yourself from the “steep hill” moments of life?
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