I live in a village called Queensbury. It’s on top of a ridge 1,100 ft above sea level looking down on Bradford and Halifax, West Yorkshire. Locally, it’s infamous for its bad weather, especially in winter when the snow drifts. Queensbury is said to have the highest school and the highest church bells in England. We have some magnificent views but to get anywhere, you have to go downhill – which means an uphill trek back!
One day, during the first lockdown, I had just started on my 50 minute walk circuit when I noticed someone I knew running in the opposite direction. We waved to each other across the road and then continued on our way. Some 15 minutes later, we crossed paths again as she was about to run up the hill I had just walked down. We stopped for a quick socially distanced chat, catching up on how our families were doing. I discovered that, having taken up running a few years ago, she was now training for a half marathon. This was her second circuit of my walking route. “Queensbury’s not really the place to practice”, I remarked. “I can’t walk up some of these hills without stopping to catch my breath, let alone run!”
She then said something that has stuck in my head for this past year. “The hills are my friends”, she explained. “Whenever I’m in a competition, most people slow down at the bottom of a hill and start walking up it. They take it steady and catch their breath. Because I practice where it’s hilly, it prepares me for the competitions. I always manage to overtake quite a few competitors whenever we come to a hill, because I just keep on going – the hills are my friends”.
It made me reflect on how many times I have stopped and turned around on a walk because I was scared of walking back up the hill later. How many times I’ve taken the easy route because I don’t want to push myself. When I have chosen to stop rather than keep on going.
So, since then, during lockdown, I’ve chosen to push myself that little bit further, both physically and metaphorically. And, as I walk up the hill, where we met, nearly one year later, I can say that although they are not yet my buddies, the hills are a little bit friendlier!
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