Life and Living with Crohn's Disease

Life and Crohn's

Running Tips and Fitness Advice

Let's Talk Running

Coach Suz Training

Work with Me!

Crohn's Lyfe Thinking Out Loud Tough Talk Treat Yourself Tuesday

Embrace the Hill and Ride the Downhills #treatyourself

As is always appropriate, I am getting my ultimate treat today (and, if you are reading this in the morning, likely RIGHT NOW): my arm is getting injected with the liquid gold that is Remicade.

arm 003

It gives you wings…wait maybe that is something else.

wings larry king

Honestly? Right now I feel like my life is pretty much a treat. No, it isn’t perfect. Hell, yes, it is pretty awesome, and I am trying to ride that high as much as I possibly can. But I am also, well, me, and to some extent I am always awaiting that dropping shoe, that hamstring pull, that ITB issue. I’m waiting for the big insurance bill (that I know for a fact will come in a few weeks after this infusion). It’s not that I am a perpetual fret-or, far from it. I’ve just been booted in the booty enough times to know better.

So what am I doing? I’m riding the downhills, baby.

Not me, but imagine it is. Shouldn't be hard

Not me, but imagine it is. Shouldn’t be hard

What I mean by “riding the downhills” is that you have to go up a hill to come back down it. So many people HATE running hills because they hurt, are hard, whatever. But you know what? I have always been one that didn’t mind them so much, at least when I was used to doing them. Now that I am in Chicago, it is like F THAT. And then I get hurt. #theresyoursign


K, so back to my training advice/life metaphor.

Learning to run hills truly is a skill. You want to exert as little extra effort as possible while losing as little pace as possible.  No, I am not a running expert, but I did the majority of my running in the hills of Manhattan, the Upper West Side/Morningside Heights, Central Park, Charlottesville, and in Atlanta. I think I know of what I speak. There are a great many techniques and strategies for doing this from experts, but here is what I typically do when I am in a race, doing a tempo, any sort of training run, really:

When I see the hill in front of me, (sweet, that worked perfectly, haha). I maintain pace, rhythm, foot fall, but I start to mentally prepare myself.

Upon meeting the hill, foot-wise. With regards to my body, I give my booty a little clench to engage my glutes and legs and then I shift my weight forward ever so slightly. I lean into the hill, as it were. (What, wasn’t “Leaning in” a big thing recently?). I don’t THROW my body at it, I don’t let it come to me, I wait patiently for it to meet me, and then I meet it. This hill and I, we are having a relationship.


I do the foot fall thing (I will spare you this time), but I use more of my toes–light but also digging in–and push with my glutes. Basically, lowering my center of gravity and pushing it forward to help with momentum. And I use my arms to help create this. Think of walking into the wind. I am at least practiced at this in Chicago, the land of headwind at all times no matter what direction you are moving in.

For really steep hills, yes, I adjust my tempo a bit, but the goal is ALWAYS to maintain forward movement. I try not to do the deetdeetdeetdeet steps all thisclosetogether–that just wastes energy, for me. But sometimes you have to give yourself a little break. For me, the goal is the even paced steps.

chicago half team challenge suzlyfe

K, so you are at the top of the hill. Whoopty freaking do.  Don’t throw a party, if you have ever truly run hillshillshills, you know that the down is just as important, and can wreck you just as well, as the up. But the down is also an opportunity to create the momentum to carry you up the next hill, or to help you coast at the bottom, and if used properly, can be a moment to breathe but also just to have some flippin fun. But if you let it get out of hand, and have to much fun, you are going to EAT IT. So the technique?brad pitt dance



After I crest a hill, this is when I open up my stride. I eat up that pavement and cover as much ground as I can, with control. Sure, I could let loose, but falling on asphalt is about as much fun as an nonfun thing can be. I would rather have a little control, a little reserve, and still have a freaking p a r t y than have to bandage the crap out of myself.

So, if you have glossed over everything to this point, the take away is thus: in the hills of life, meet the ascent halfway, but maintain pace as much as possible. Engage that booty, face it with determination, but don’t fight it. Respect it.

At the top, know that a transition is coming, the calm, a bit of a break.

flw worth having

And then ride the hill–eat it up, but don’t binge–more hills are coming. Savor that morsel, that treat, pick out all of its flavors, and let that carry through the coasting period.

And then meet the next ascent. And love the challenge. Consider it a treat to yourself–knowing that you will get the downhill, even if it is at the start of your run tomorrow.

Running flats if fun, but you have just as good a chance of injury (trust me).

We’ve heard of embracing the hill–now it’s time to ride the downhills.

What do you do when life is treating you?

Do you “ride” the downhills? How do you deal with hills, in life, runs, rides, what have you?

Merci, Becky!

Merci, Becky!


Previous Post Next Post

Have you read these gems?


  • Reply Sue @ This Mama Runs for Cupcakes

    Great post! I love running hills, I always feel so accomplished when I nail it. And I love the metaphor of life with the hills. I have learned to take those hills as they come because there is usually nothing you can to do change those. And once you accept you cannot change them, you need to just embrace them. Try and make the best of the hills!
    Sue @ This Mama Runs for Cupcakes recently posted…Time for some new kicks?My Profile

    June 17, 2014 at 6:07 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Precisely. Hills give you the views, after all! Just never draft a manual gear car up one!

      June 17, 2014 at 9:45 am
  • Reply Laura @ the gluten-free treadmill

    I really REALLY love your tips and thoughts about running hills – and I agree with them completely. I like to even lean into them a but and let them support me as I do the “hill shuffle” which means smaller quicker steps. I actually like hills at the beginning of marathins because they me feel strong! And in life, I think we have to climb the hills to get to the amazing, fkying down a hill goodness that waits on the other side!
    Laura @ the gluten-free treadmill recently posted…Manitoba Marathon Recap, part oneMy Profile

    June 17, 2014 at 6:42 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I am all about what works best, but I think that the hill shuffle is so you–you hone in on that sucker, and you give it everything you’ve got. I feel like you are the perfect position for a nice downhill run–you may even be starting it right now 😀

      June 17, 2014 at 9:44 am
  • Reply Deborah @ Confessions of a Mother Runner

    I love running hills too-makes me feel pretty tough and that I’ve accomplished something. I actually feel less stable on a downhill. Looks like you are in a good place right now!
    Deborah @ Confessions of a Mother Runner recently posted…Ouch blisters and chafing-What’s a Runner to do?!My Profile

    June 17, 2014 at 6:48 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      That’s why I’m of the opinion that learning to ride the downhill is just as important and as much of a balance and technique as the up hill! Anyone can do it, not everyone can do it well.

      June 17, 2014 at 9:43 am
  • Reply Rachel

    I lovelovelove this philosophy. I actually don’t mind hills that much, and intentionally include them in all of my running routes so that I do them all the time. I definitely try to enjoy the downhills, though 🙂
    Rachel recently posted…Cape Cod Vacation Recap Part 2: What I Wish I DidMy Profile

    June 17, 2014 at 7:00 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      It is like fffffffflllllllllyyyyyyyyyyiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnggggggggggggggg!

      June 17, 2014 at 9:42 am
  • Reply Susie's mommy, Clare

    hmmmmm, I’m the one who gets off and walks her bike up a hill and then rides down the other side with my brakes on–hard. Maybe I should change my technique. Running on a hill would be an exercise in futility for me! where are the brakes?!
    however, I’ll try applying your ideas to my walking on hills.

    June 17, 2014 at 7:30 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Hey, we already did! Remember the booty walk that we did at the Publix half?–> sashay and dig

      June 17, 2014 at 9:42 am
      • Reply Susie's mommy, Clare

        Yes, I do remember–but I had you there to keep after me!
        But, now I have to put it into my own training walks…..without your smiling face to goad me on!

        Sashay and dig–love it!

        June 17, 2014 at 3:57 pm
  • Reply Stacie @ SimplySouthernStacie

    First of all, thanks for the hill running tips! I kind of view hills as my enemy, but I can’t hate on them too much because there is always a downhill! Second of all, I really loved reading your positive view! It was refreshing for me on this Tuesday morning!
    Stacie @ SimplySouthernStacie recently posted…Weekend ConfessionsMy Profile

    June 17, 2014 at 7:34 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Well, so happy that I could be of service in so many ways!

      June 17, 2014 at 9:41 am
  • Reply Sara @ Lake Shore Runner

    I love this metaphor comparing hills to life! Right now I feel like I am just getting to the top and am looking forward to riding the downhill.

    Being that there are not a lot of hills in Chicago sometimes they are hard to train on. But when I see when I try to psych myself out that it is the exact same as running on level ground. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t.
    Sara @ Lake Shore Runner recently posted…Challenge Accepted & CompletedMy Profile

    June 17, 2014 at 7:34 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Ah, so you are in the calm before the storm bit. I can’t wait to see your downhill! Yeah, we need to find a place to practice hills, for real.

      June 17, 2014 at 9:40 am
  • Reply Michael Anderson

    Great metaphor for life – things are not always uphill, nor are they always downhill. And if you make yourself believe they are … you will miss the good stuff.

    And similar to hills on runs, hills in life require training. I have talked about the 1500ft hill near me with one really steep and one more gradual side. At first I was happy to make it up the gradual side, then I worked on the other side, then I could do it without stopping or walking, then I could maintain pace … and now I can do repeats on side-hills after cresting …

    And just like that I find that things I can handle in life now are things I couldn’t have begun to deal with years ago. My wife and I were talking about that last night, how things that would have seemed big years ago are now just things we deal with and move on.

    Love your perspective 🙂
    Michael Anderson recently posted…The (un) Reality of the Blog WorldMy Profile

    June 17, 2014 at 7:54 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      It is amazing how perspective changes as you go through life–how things feel fast/slow whilst you are in the midst of them vs after the fact. I have always been a tough cookie, but I think I have actually softened a great deal over the years, rather than grown harder–I am no longer making myself numb to the challenges and changes in life, but am actually allowing myself to feel them, to sweat through them.

      June 17, 2014 at 9:39 am
  • Reply Sara @ lifebetweenthemiles

    I’m sorry about your Remicade infusion, I know that stinks 🙁 I actually really love hills, I enjoy going up though more than down, mostly because my knees start to hurt a lot on the downhill, but I have gotten WAY better at going down when I was training for Boston.

    I love your analogy of riding the downhill. In life, sometimes things go crappy but focusing on the positive (and riding the downhill) is a much better way to live than focusing on the negative. Of course, you can throw yourself a mini pity party, but then get over it and dance because life for the most part is pretty damn good!
    Sara @ lifebetweenthemiles recently posted…Father’s Day and the Weekly Wrap UpMy Profile

    June 17, 2014 at 7:56 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Eh, Remicade isn’t that bad. I am so, so thankful for it, and it gives me a few hours of nonnegotiable me time. The cost is the icky part, for sure. I am going to have to re-learn how to love the physical hills–and I’ve gotta figure out where to find them! And speaking of dancing, I like to wiggle my booty when I am going up hill–mini dance!

      June 17, 2014 at 9:36 am
  • Reply Irene

    I love this post, and your metaphor for the ups and downs of life! I’m also one who waits for the shoe to drop when things are going good, and knows that when things are bad, they will get better. I think you can’t truly appreciate a downhill if you don’t know the struggle of going uphill.
    Irene recently posted…17 WeeksMy Profile

    June 17, 2014 at 8:20 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Exactly. It has taken me a while to really embrace that, rather than just saying it.

      June 17, 2014 at 9:34 am
  • Reply Heather @ PrettyHealthyMostoftheTime

    I now deem you the queen of life metaphors! But really though, I absolutely love your attitude about everything. I just need it to rub off on me!
    Heather @ PrettyHealthyMostoftheTime recently posted…Treat Yourself Tuesday #1My Profile

    June 17, 2014 at 8:28 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Question: do I get a metaphorical crown? And what does said metaphorical crown look like? Thank you, and I will say, it takes practice, and it’s always easier to see the positive on the downhill

      June 17, 2014 at 9:33 am
      • Reply Heather @ PrettyHealthyMostoftheTime

        Of course you get a crown! It’s glittery with a pink unicorn and a small purple caterpillar . Sorry, I thought everyone knew that.
        Heather @ PrettyHealthyMostoftheTime recently posted…Treat Yourself Tuesday #1My Profile

        June 17, 2014 at 9:56 am
        • Reply suzlyfe

          I may be perfect but I don’t know evvvveerrything 😉

          June 17, 2014 at 10:09 am
  • Reply Becky @ Connect The Dots Ginger

    I have learned to love hills! Living in a very hilly city now they are some of my favorite things. I love downhills because it helps me recover from the icky part of the uphill and I feel like I can gain back whatever time I lost on the uphill since I tend to slow down a little bit because they are so steep here. After training on hills then going to a flat race I struggled with the monotony of the everything is the same, no change. YEA to hills!
    Becky @ Connect The Dots Ginger recently posted…4 WeeksMy Profile

    June 17, 2014 at 8:39 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Hahaha HILL PARTAY! And I agree–flat runs stretch on forever, like driving through the plains!

      June 17, 2014 at 9:32 am
  • Reply Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine

    Great tips! While hills can be tough I definitely appreciate the downhills. Even if I slow down a little on the uphill I find that I make up even more time on the downhill. I think its important to practice/get used to running hills. So much of it is mental that I think if you have done them over and over in training, it won’t seem so intimidating during a race.
    Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine recently posted…Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder Giveaway and Recipes (June Smoothie Link-Up!)My Profile

    June 17, 2014 at 9:19 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Truth. Hills really are much more of a mental game than a physical. Yes, they take strength to run, and proper muscle development, but strategy is even more important!

      June 17, 2014 at 9:31 am
  • Reply Sarah @ Absolutely Ridiculous

    Hills scare me.

    However – my favorite thing to do on the weekends is run over to my Mom’s house in the morning, have coffee, and then make her drive me home. Our new house is WAY DOWNHILL from her house so it will be one big uphill run. I will now get excited for it versus terrified. Mostly. Okay half and half. I’ll be 1/3rd excited. Maybe. EEK!
    Sarah @ Absolutely Ridiculous recently posted…Treat Yourself TuesdayMy Profile

    June 17, 2014 at 9:49 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Start conservative, build your way up…. 🙂

      June 17, 2014 at 10:10 am
  • Reply Caitlin

    Absolutely beautiful, love. You know that I am very similar in that I wait for the other shoe to drop, too, when things are going well, since it usually does. But that’s life. And you/I/humanity have to learn to handle the good/bad/everything in between. As someone who loves a good hill haha, you’d think I wouldn’t be quite so afraid of the ones in other parts of life, too. Getting there (and definitely better than I used to be), but also something to keep working on.
    Caitlin recently posted…Summer RunningMy Profile

    June 17, 2014 at 9:51 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      You and me both. It’s a constant battle/balance/give and take. But the great part is that at some point, there will be a give.
      Also, if the shoe has to drop, at least it can be on #flatsfriday and get me ready for a perfect long run.

      June 17, 2014 at 10:11 am
  • Reply nevie b.

    LOVE this post. Both the metaphor and the literal aspects. You know I “love” me some hills — I always tell my friends who say they “just can’t run” or “hate running,” um, it’s totally okay to hate it. It’s hard. If it’s not hard you never change, grow, and get better, both as a runner and in life. It’s the uphills that make you a stronger runner and person. And I, like you, am always waiting for that next uphill while riding the downhill – but I’m trying to match the sweet relief I let myself enjoy anyway during a run to when I am lucky to experience a sweet relief of downhill in life 🙂
    nevie b. recently posted…Tunesday Tuesday – Why music is essential to my runningMy Profile

    June 17, 2014 at 10:44 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      “Sweet relief” is such a perfect way to put it. And you are so right–it IS okay to not like running hills, but you learn to appreciate the challenge, at least I think and hope so.

      June 18, 2014 at 1:30 pm
  • Reply Brianna @ I run He tris

    I love this post and all the tips/metaphors! When life is treating me I try to just enjoy it as much as possible. Yes there might be darkness looming or maybe the good will just keep on coming!! We never know what’s ahead so I try to enjoy the moment as much as possible. Physically running hills is hard for me. Not because of the work but because I have to actively go looking for hills. It’s very flat down here.

    June 17, 2014 at 11:04 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Haha, truth! It’s hard to find hills here, as well–thus why I end up running the same dang routes over and over again. Otherwise I never see any “altitude”

      June 18, 2014 at 1:31 pm
  • Reply Mama Salt

    I LOVE running hills because it’s hard. And the feeling of accomplishment that I get when I tackle a big one (especially if I have tried it in the past and had to walk at any point) is just huge. When I have an ugly deadline at work that seems really impossible or Dash is sick and not sleeping and things just seem really tough, one of my favorite ways to cope is going for a hilly run for that reason.

    June 17, 2014 at 1:58 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      You are a glutton for punishment.

      June 18, 2014 at 1:31 pm
  • Reply Ursula

    Awesome running (and life) tips. I had a friend tell me he loves biking hills because he so enjoys the downhills. I used to think he was crazy but he’s onto something…and it really is a good strategy for life. As for running, riding the downhill is something I need to work on. I think people often assume running downhill is easy but oh boy, it ain’t! You can get seriously hurt without the right technique so once again, thanks for your tips chica!
    Ursula recently posted…Things you learn while swimmingMy Profile

    June 17, 2014 at 2:24 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Any way I can help! I say, check yoself fo you wreck yoself. I have literally bitten it getting too over exuberant on the down hill. That doesn’t mean that you have to tip toe around, but it does mean that you should be mindful. Otherwise, you spin out of control!

      June 18, 2014 at 1:34 pm
  • Reply Jess@Flying Feet in Faith

    I just did a hill session run today! The best advice I’ve read and put into practice is this: uphill, stand tall, look forward, and drive with your hips. downhill, lean and GO!
    🙂 just like life. Going up can be a struggle but keep your head held high and drive on. And enjoy the downhill when it comes. I agree with you, respect the hill and just meet it. Don’t try to destroy yourself uphill. Great post!
    Jess@Flying Feet in Faith recently posted…#MotivationalMonday: The Week Before Marathon Training Begins!My Profile

    June 17, 2014 at 2:32 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thanks! And thanks for your version of the advice!

      June 18, 2014 at 1:36 pm
  • Reply Becky @ Olives n Wine

    I’ve most definitely learned to ride the hills in recent years. You can’t always change what life throws your way, but you can change how you react to it!
    Becky @ Olives n Wine recently posted…#40 Treat Yourself TuesdayMy Profile

    June 17, 2014 at 2:57 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe


      June 18, 2014 at 1:36 pm
  • Reply Courtney @RunningforCupcakes

    I love this for many reasons. First of all because I’m excited to go back to Ohio where there are actually hills to run! They’re going to kick my butt since I’m so used to flat land, but I know in the end they will make me stronger. Second of all, I literally laughed out loud when you talked about the little deetdeetdeet steps when going up hills. That is totally me, they kill me. And lastly I like the metaphorical point of this post. Life always has it’s ups and downs. I prefer to ride them out like you said and see how it goes. Life is too short to stress over the little things!
    Courtney @RunningforCupcakes recently posted…Marathon Training: Week 2My Profile

    June 17, 2014 at 3:00 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      You got it. I learned to love hills when I ran my first races that were “hilly” but to me seemed so flat! Everyone else was ddddyyyying and I was like BITCH PLEASE. But now I would die.

      June 18, 2014 at 1:37 pm
  • Reply Sam

    Love the idea of riding the downhill! I try but I feel like hills are my kryptonite. After training 3 years in Florida, I’ve been reteaching myself how to run them. Your tips are super helpful. I’m going to try to implement a few this weekend 🙂

    June 17, 2014 at 3:15 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I hope that they work! I’m going to have to re-teach myself to run those hills again, too. Florida might have even Chicago beat when it comes to flatness, though, so touche!

      June 18, 2014 at 1:38 pm
  • Reply Kate @ Baking in Yoga Pants

    What an insightful post 🙂 When life is treating me, I appreciate it and express gratitude to God for all the blessings I have experienced and will experience.
    Kate @ Baking in Yoga Pants recently posted…Sweet & Salty Dessert BarsMy Profile

    June 17, 2014 at 3:20 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I love your grace, faith, and exactly that, gratitude, that you express in your comments and your blog. This may sound kinda wonky, but I always get this sense of calm when I read your comments. No wonder you are so good at yoga!

      June 18, 2014 at 1:45 pm
  • Reply Ange @ Cowgirl Runs

    Love this!!
    Hills make be feel badass. In life and in running. Yeah, it sucks when you’re running up, but you know what, you DID IT!! Hellz yes.
    Ange @ Cowgirl Runs recently posted…MmmmmmmarvelousMy Profile

    June 17, 2014 at 4:27 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      That is why you run ultras and…stuff. Also why you are in the awesome place that you are currently in.

      June 18, 2014 at 1:46 pm
  • Reply Emily@WhateverFloatsYourOats

    Loved this post! I tend to fear hills in training and in life. Thanks for the reminder to breathe and met them!
    Emily@WhateverFloatsYourOats recently posted…Happy Father’s DayMy Profile

    June 17, 2014 at 7:05 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Happy to help. I used to be fearful, or at least thought that I was, and I spent a lot of time trying to numb myself to upcoming/ongoing challenges. What helped me was learning to discern between nerves and true fear, like I talked about a few weeks ago.

      June 18, 2014 at 1:48 pm
  • Reply Sarah

    Love it! I think in life and races that you sometimes have to earn your downhill. Putting up with that hard, steep or never-ending hill or whatever life can throw at you. But reaching the top is so rewarding and flying downhill – YES!
    Sarah recently posted…Race Recap: Utah Valley half marathonMy Profile

    June 17, 2014 at 10:53 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Perfectly said. And in way fewer words than me!

      June 18, 2014 at 1:48 pm
  • Reply #FlatsFriday Numero Dos and Friday Favorites! | Suzlyfe

    […] discussion from the past few weeks, I encourage you to revisit them. Recently we’ve covered Learning to Ride the Downhill (also informative about running!), Intuition, Relaxed Readiness, Fear vs. Nerves, Regret, […]

    June 20, 2014 at 5:31 am
  • Reply Five times the Friday Favorites and #FlatsFriday 3! | Suzlyfe


    June 27, 2014 at 5:35 am
  • Reply #FlatsFriday Numero Dos and Friday Favorites! - Suzlyfe

    […] discussion from the past few weeks, I encourage you to revisit them. Recently we’ve covered Learning to Ride the Downhill (also informative about running!), Intuition, Relaxed Readiness, Fear vs. Nerves, Regret, […]

    October 27, 2014 at 3:10 pm
  • Leave a Reply

    CommentLuv badge