It’s not that I hate hills (I don’t, I swear!), it’s that I suck at running up them. If we’re in a race together and you wanna pass me, just wait for a hill to hit and say a kind hello on the way by. I’ve recently added the Frog Bridge to my strength training repertoire, to quite literally help me get my rear in gear, but it’s still daunting to see a stretch of road headed up-up-up in front of me. Muscles are helpful, but I need something more.

So until I can run hill repeats like Sasha Gollish at Big Birdcamp, I have a secret weapon: unbeknownst to runners around me, when I start running up a hill I am not a human. I am a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

When my feet first hit a hill, I begin to transform. My stride length decreases, my step cadence increases, my hands go all claw-like, and my fangs emerge. (Okay, those last two are just in my head, sure.) I attack that hill with carnivorous zeal, like it’s a juicy pork chop and I haven’t eaten anything in a week. RAWR.

As a kid riding in my dad’s old 1964 Willys Jeep Pickup we would refer to downshifts like these as “going into granny gear.” Middle-aged me prefers “T-Rex mode.”

When I crest the hill, I have CONQUERED it. DEVOURED it. And I mentally shift back into homo sapiens mode and keep going. Does this Cretaceous mindset help me go faster? NOPE. Does it make the hill seem like less of a big deal and distract my mind from the effort involved to get up the hill? YES.

This is the power of visualization, and you should be using it.

Here’s another example of how I use visualization during runs (minus the dinosaur transformation this time). Say I’m doing a workout run with some spicy intervals mixed in. Some Zone 5 heart rate stuff. And say it’s getting towards the end of the workout when I am getting TIRED. Thinking about those final fast intervals makes my brain sad. But imagining a CHARGING BEAR behind me as the next interval begins helps spice the legs up for those final efforts. (You may substitute any ferocious beast you wish, I just substitute the *BEEP* of my fitness app for *BEAR* as it’s an nice fit.)

My fellow runners, our minds are always messing with us. Let’s use that force for good, and get over our hills.

P.S. Birds are dinosaurs, look it up.

Rebecca Nelson
Tagged: training