When running uphill, the trick is to take smaller steps. Hills are tough and challenging, they break your rhythm, they take their toll on your body. You have to see them not as obstacles, but part of the course. They’re good for you. You have to shift gears, physically and mentally. You must shorten your stride, realise you can’t maintain your pace from the flat, then keep going until you crest the top of the hill. Because the view from the other side is beautiful. Because looking back and seeing how far you’ve come is worth all the effort it took to get there.
Pilates class, Thursday night, lying on my side on a thin mat on the cold floor. One arm outstretched, the other balanced in front of me, doing single leg circles while trying not to overbalance. “Make the movement smaller,” the teacher says to me, leaning down, “so you work the right muscles.” So I do less and feel it in my hips, where I’m meant to. I do less and I feel it working. “You need to use your core muscles for this one, ladies,” she says as she walks back to the front. “Activate your powerhouse. This one is harder than it looks.” We stretch it out as she leads us into the next exercise.
“You’ve done very well this year,” he writes, when I say how crushed I’m feeling. And I don’t feel it yet but I see how small steps took me here, and I wonder if this will make me stronger. I wonder when the downhill will begin.