I realized today that it's not as much the altitude that makes me huff and puff, but the hills. In Utah, my run is a constant stream of ups and downs. My dad used to tell us that he walked to school uphill both ways. Now, like most things, I am realizing that my dad was right (As a parent I now fully support the idea that parents are always right!).
Even with all the huffing and puffing, I LOVE HILLS! At first, there's a bit of fear when I see one looming so tall in the distance. But, if I just relax and keep going something strange happens -- the hill disappears (very slowly in my case). Getting to the top of the hill doesn't happen with one giant leap. Instead, it's a collection of baby steps, each requiring only slightly more effort. In just a short week of hill workouts, I feel stronger, still huffing, but stronger.
For me, this lesson has more than running applications. When I am faced with a challenge that seems insurmountable, if I just keep going, with baby steps, I usually get there. Some challenges I can anticipate, others come unexpectedly (like potholes hiding beneath the snow). However, the process and results are the same -- I feel stronger.
For a long time I thought this strength only came from the struggle to the top. The downhill has always been a difficult part of the hill for me to accept (like taking days off from exercise, taking naps, watching an occasional episode of Oprah, and just giving myself a break in general). I know I need to rest, and I usually do, but not without a ping of guilt. No matter how often I tell myself it's OK to enjoy the decline, I just can't let it go.
This guilt also beats me up over small imperfections and minor setbacks. Today, I ate everything in sight and I'm struggling to put it behind me. It is what it is, so I just need to sum it up as a bad day and get on with the rest of the climb. Baby steps to the top, right?
I can do it.