Our youngest daughter recently began running with me. We found some new shoes and planned a run.
“How far do you want to go on your first run?”
“How far do you normally go when you go off running?”
“Well my typical everyday route is a 5k.”
“How far is that?”
“Okay we should do that.”
We ran. We talked. We laughed.
We had to slow down a few times. She is used to sprinting on the soccer field.
As I watched her, her stride, gate, and frame something became clear: it is only a matter of time before she can out run me. With a combination of pride and a little envy, I realized my job is to coach her well, enjoy this time with her, and help her excel in something that she seems designed to do.
Each step confirmed that she is a runner.
But there is a hill.
In addition to providing encouragement and some tips on breathing, I explained that there is The Hill Rule in running. For those of you not familiar with this particular rule, let me explain.
The Hill Rule: when running up a hill, you are not allowed to stop. If you need to stop there are only two options.
1. Stop before you get to the hill, catch your breath, then proceed up the hill.
2. Stop at the top of the hill, after you run up the hill.
The reason for The Hill Rule is simple. A large part of running is a mental game. Stopping in the middle of a hill imprints a pattern that you cannot run hills, and you will tend to stop when faced with the next larger hill. The Hill Rule breaks this pattern, and does acknowledge that hills are hard, but there are options to overcome them.
The more I thought about The Hill Rule, the more I could see how it applies to any obstacle we face. When we give up or stop in the middle, we develop a pattern that can continue the next time that obstacle arises. Frankly, a large part of life is a mental game.
Try applying The Hill Rule to your next obstacle. Either stop and rest before you tackle it, or rest when it is over. No stopping in the middle.
We ran up that hill without stopping. We rested at the end, and celebrated the run.
We are looking forward to the next run, and there will be hills.