Not me!


As I’ve written about before, I am scared to run around my mom’s neighborhood for multiple reasons:


  • She lives in the middle of nowhere.
  • There are a lot of hills with blind spots, and cars make me nervous.
  • Many country home keep big, scary dogs on their porches/in their front yards for protection.  These dogs are very territorial, and I had to fend one off with a huge stick once!


However, I decided to face my fears and do an outdoor run this morning.  I realized late last night that I am running a half marathon in three weekends, and although I’m coming off of a marathon, I feel pretty mentally unprepared to tackle 13.1 miles.  Physically, I’m sure I will be fine to have fun and not race for any particular time goal.


To soothe my doggie fears, I carried some pepper spray:


I only put one earbud in so I could hear cars, and I was very conscious of hills and blind spots.  I don’t necessary stick to one side of the road, but I run on whichever side has the least blind spots.  And I was always looking behind me.  It makes for SLOW running, though.






No sidewalks:


I’m not in Orlando, Florida anymore!  Gulp! 🙂


My statistics:


  • Distance: 6.0 miles
  • Duration: 1:01:11
  • Mile 1: 10:28 (includes photography time!)
  • Mile 2: 10:24
  • Mile 3: 10:11
  • Mile 4: 10:13
  • Mile 5: 9:54
  • Mile 6: 9:59


It was a good run, despite the obstacles. 


No food to write about thus far – my mom and I are leaving right now to go to lunch, and then we are running a bunch of errands, including stopping by family graves.  My stomach is starting to grumble, so I better get going!


For all the runners out there, what your philosophy on hills? Do you tackle them head on, walk up, or do a run/walk combo? I tend to just tackle them.



  • Kelly February 5, 2010, 12:47 pm

    I LOVE hills! I always beat people up the hills (but then ironically lose ground doing down…for some reason downhill running is super hard for me!) I pump my arms, shorten my stride and pick up my cadence! I eat hills for breakfast! haha!

  • Amanda February 5, 2010, 12:47 pm

    I tackle them head on and let my body tell me what to do. Sometimes I can run at a good pace up a hill, other days my knees or hips tell me a fast walk might be better or a combo. Its SOOO important to listen to whatever your body is telling you but I also like a challenge!
    Have a good day 🙂

  • Crunchy Granola Gal February 5, 2010, 12:48 pm

    i am terrified of running around my parent’s house upstate because of the dogs, too. i’d almost rather run on a treadmill. i’ve been chased before and it’s no fun at all!

    i like to use hills as a challenge and keep my pace steady going up (same as flats) when i really want to push myself. it’s an awesome workout, when i actually have the motivation to do it!

  • rebecca February 5, 2010, 12:49 pm

    as my hs track coach always said, “hills are speedwork in disguise”!

    • caitlin February 5, 2010, 5:12 pm

      i like that attitude!

  • sarah February 5, 2010, 12:54 pm

    I once had a standoff with a dog on a country road. I was SO SCARED – every time I moved, he barked. I finally ended up walking 50 feet off the road into a snowdrift to get around him. And then still had five miles to go.

    As for hills, I used to walk up partway. Now, I try to keep on running, even if I have to slow to a crawl. It’s an excellent accomplishment for me, mentally, to be able to the whole hill at a run.

  • Freya @ February 5, 2010, 12:57 pm

    I tackle them hard!! I move my arms stronger – I read one tip which said you should run up a hill like your pulling yourself up a rope using your arms, so big strong movements, if that makes sense? I know the feeling I mean, and it works really well 🙂
    I also focus on one step at a time, instead of looking at the whole hill and thinking ‘WOAH BIG HILL!’. Works a charm 🙂

    Congrats on facing the dogs by the way, I love that you carried pepper spray 🙂
    All this talk of half marathons…it’s making me excited – my first one is this Sunday :O!
    Have a lovely lunch !

  • Sara @ ActiveGal February 5, 2010, 1:00 pm

    I usually just tackle them head on! I actually did hills sprints last night with the boyfriend who is training for Boston. We ran 1.5 miles to get to the hill, I completed 4 .25 up hill sprints and would jog back down .25 miles after each, and then ran 1.5 miles back to the apartment. It ended up being almost 5 miles. Hills are a great way to increase your speed!

  • Jessica @ How Sweet February 5, 2010, 1:01 pm

    Wow that really IS the country!

  • Paige February 5, 2010, 1:02 pm

    Your workout gear is so colorful! Almost like one of those 80s workout videos – but not in a bad way!

  • Paige February 5, 2010, 1:02 pm

    Hills were made to be tackled! I’m with you Caitlin!!!

  • Deva (Voracious Vorilee) February 5, 2010, 1:05 pm

    I try to tackle them head on when I’m running outdoors. My neighborhood doesn’t really have a lot of sidewalks, so I have to be hyper-aware of my surroundings, too.

  • Karla February 5, 2010, 1:09 pm

    My friend is training for half marathon in April and is encouraging me to do it too. I would really like to but honestly, I’m scared of running outside on my own. I live in Upstate NY and looks very similar to where your mother lives. Is this a ridiculous fear? I sort of hate that if I were a man this wouldn’t really be an issue. Any tips for overcoming that fear?

    • caitlin February 5, 2010, 5:13 pm

      honestly i worry WAY more about cars and dogs than being attacked. but i know a lot of women who carry a taser with them when they run – maybe you should look into that!

  • Jessica @ The Process of Healing February 5, 2010, 1:09 pm

    Oh wow girl, scary place to run! But yay for tackling your fears! I can’t imagine having to fight off a dog with a stick.

    And I tackle them, all the way! They make you stronger 😀

  • Ashley February 5, 2010, 1:10 pm

    Great idea to carry the pepper spray like that! I am taking note !!

  • Bree@beeskneeslife February 5, 2010, 1:11 pm

    I admit dogs not on leashes or fenced in scare me a little when I am out running. Usually if a dog is loose they will come up to me and I will stop, so they don’t keep chasing me. I hate to be overly cautious, but you never know if they dog is going to be friendly or not!

    I always tackle hills head on. I usually get on my toes, drop my arms and go for it! I like to get it over with 🙂

  • Kalli@fitandfortysomething February 5, 2010, 1:11 pm

    I can see why you do not like running in such a rural area. I too would be scard of dogs coming out at me. Good job on going!

    Have fun with your mom!

  • Karen February 5, 2010, 1:13 pm

    I tackle hills head on! I feel so strong/powerful when I get to the top! If I needed to I would take walking breaks but haven’t had to do that yet. Luckily my longest race (1/2 marathon) was not very hill-y at all!

  • Haleigh February 5, 2010, 1:15 pm

    You are right to be careful about territorial dogs. My Swedish family came to visit us a few months back, and my father in law is a runner. He runs outside in the Swedish forests all the time, at least 3x per week. Well, he thought that in the United States he could do the same thing. He ended up in a bad area of town with a huge dog bite on his leg. It was terrible. Now he won’t run here, lol but it he was a good sport about it. He thought it was funny.

  • Heather (Heather's Dish) February 5, 2010, 1:17 pm

    depending on the incline and length, i usually just tackle them head on and then take my time coming back down the hill…makes it go faster 🙂 so glad you had a safe run, and hope you have a wonderful afternoon with your mom 🙂

  • Jenn @ Livewellfit February 5, 2010, 1:20 pm

    When I used to do longer distance running I would always tackle hills head on, no walking. One trick I used (and I thought it worked but to each his own) with hills was I looked straight down in front of my feet, just ahead of my steps rather than holding my head and looking up the hill. I really think it helped trick the mind a bit- making the hill appear or feel just a bit less steep!

  • Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down) February 5, 2010, 1:21 pm

    The pictures look exactly like where I live and run all the time. Hilly, no side walks, and scary. Yep! 😀

    With hills, I used to do a walk/run combo, but now I just tackle them. It *really* builds endurance. But you also have an increased risk of getting injured, so it’s important to keep your stride short and choppy, and pretend that a string is pulling your head up to the sky (ie, no leaning forward at the waist!) Don’t overlengthen your stride, because you’ll just burn more energy that way and set yourself up for possible injuries. I used to get achilles tendonitis a lot before realizing this. 😉

    Have fun running in the new location!! 😀

    • caitlin February 5, 2010, 5:14 pm

      i like your method!

  • Amber from Girl with the Red Hair February 5, 2010, 1:22 pm

    Where I live there are TONS OF HILLS! You pretty much can’t run ANY decent (long) route without hitting 1 or 2 big hills. So I do lots of hill training and actually kind of love it!

    Depending on the length of the hill I will usually just power up it, but sometimes if it’s a REALLY big hill (I’ve ran up hills that are a mile long) I will do 4:1. 4 minutes of running, 1 minute of walking!

    I love running on country roads but have had a few dog encounters before. I usually just YELL, really loudly at the dog: GO HOME! Seems to work, so far… Haha!

  • Erin February 5, 2010, 1:24 pm

    I tend to tackle as well. I fell like hills are (well, pre-injury, were) a strong point for me. I always passed people on hills! I have done the walk/run combo too, and it’s not bad. You are still coving some ground without feeling like you are going to die.

    Where did you get that adorable little pepper spray case???

    • caitlin February 5, 2010, 5:14 pm

      i think she ordered it offline, but she cant remember where.

  • Kelly February 5, 2010, 1:26 pm

    Haha i’m terrified of running outside in general, I wrote about it here: I’m slowly going to attempt to tackle that fear once it stops snowing every day and warms up!

    As for hills, head down, pump the arms, shorten the stride, keep the same pace.

  • Anna February 5, 2010, 1:26 pm

    Oh god, hills. the part of DC where I live is REALLY hilly- it’s actually at the highest point in the city, so that means no matter what I’m going to be running downhill for 2 miles and then uphill again. It sucks. No, but really it just means that I have to plan out my runs really well to avoid the extremes. I do a lot of winding through side streets. As far as my tactic, I just slow it down and keep it steady. I hate having to walk up hills!

  • Melissa (Getting Fit If It Kills Me) February 5, 2010, 1:29 pm

    Our area has lots of hills, so luckily I’m not into running (yet…) What I want to know is which one of the attack dogs paused long enough to take your pictures? 🙂

  • Stacey February 5, 2010, 1:31 pm

    I tend to tackle them too, I love the feeling of accomplishment at the top 😀 Have a good lunch with your mamma!

  • Melissa S. February 5, 2010, 1:31 pm

    I tackle hills head on and use my arms to help me get up them. the more you pump, your legs will follow. my coach always said that when i was in high school, and it always worked!

  • Jess February 5, 2010, 1:40 pm

    I tackle hills head on, making sure my pace is steady and my stride is shortened just a little bit. I figure if I can run up hills here in the altitude, I’ll kick their ass when I run at sea level.

  • Julie February 5, 2010, 1:44 pm

    I definitely try to run up hills as fast as I can, without burning out once I hit the top. I pace myself, but try to pick up the pace a tiny bit. Once I go downhill, I usually slow a bit. I don’t know why, but downhill is harder for me. Hills are really great for training though! They make you stronger and faster I think 🙂

  • Katie@ Two Lives, One Lifestyle February 5, 2010, 1:45 pm

    Nice plan to cover all the fears and get out there!

  • Kristen February 5, 2010, 1:49 pm

    This road looks a lot like the road I run on when at my boyfriend’s parent’s house. Glad you conquered the fear.

    When I run at home there is one hill that is killer and usually comes at the end of my loop. I usually try and just power through it. But sometimes, the hill wins 😉

  • Betty February 5, 2010, 1:51 pm

    Seems like a nice and scary run. Good Job!!!

  • Anne P February 5, 2010, 1:53 pm

    Tackle them, for sure 🙂

  • Lauren @ Eater not a runner February 5, 2010, 1:53 pm

    I just try to keep running no matter how slow I have to go! I am definitely nervous about running anywhere with no sidewalks.

  • Wendy February 5, 2010, 2:01 pm

    I live in the country in Missouri, so that running environment looks quite familiar. The area where I live is in the bluffs along the Missouri River, so we have LOTS of hills! And I love ’em. I like to power up the hill, and go on cruise control coming back down. It makes for a nice interval workout. 🙂

    If you think that’s the middle of nowhere, you should see where my in-laws live. You have to drive on several miles of gravel roads to get to their farm/house!

  • Jen February 5, 2010, 2:03 pm

    Oh yes my inlaws live in the middle of no where in SC. The cars and stray dogs are the scariest part of running around there! Glad you were OK!

    I sprint up hills to get them over with 🙂

  • Heidi February 5, 2010, 2:07 pm

    HAHAHA That looks like a nice place to run! Quite a bit like my area. I actually don’t like running on sidewalks. But VERY good idea to keep an earbud out, you need to hear what’s going on around you.

    Hills – I don’t love them, but I know they’re very good so I try to do them alot. I have a sick little pride in me that refuses to allow me to walk a hill – EVER! I think I’d rather collapse from a heart attack than walk. Sometimes I’m sure I could walk faster than I’m running them, but my pride won’t let me stop.

    Once I ran a super steep hill with a friend and she had to walk part way up and I ran. She was disappointed that she didn’t push through so I made her turn around and we ran it again. She felt so good conquering it.

  • Lisa February 5, 2010, 2:09 pm

    I am trying to get better at running up hills. Currently, I am not a very strong runner, so I frequently have to walk up them!

  • Kt F @ ThroughTheFinish February 5, 2010, 2:15 pm

    I tend to just tackle them, and then jog slower/walk (depending on the size of the hill) after I make it to the top. More rewarding to make it all the way up! And less time overall on the hill lol.

    I know how you feel about running around blind spots, with one earbud in, looking for dogs. I run in some pretty nerve-wracking areas around home sometimes!

  • Nicole @ Geek Turned Athlete February 5, 2010, 2:16 pm

    Tackle,tackle, tackle! There are a lot of hills were I live. I can’t really get away from them! Germany is pretty much ALL rolling hills. It sucks, but it is good at the same time. It leaves me well prepared for all types of racing terrain!

    I usually run on the left side of the road so I can see if a car is coming or not. My in-laws neighborhood has a lot of big dogs sort of like the neighborhood that you ran through today. After my runs at their house, I’m always more tired than normal runs because my adrenaline level is higher due to the risk of being chased by dogs too! I know the feeling!!

  • Island Girl Eats February 5, 2010, 2:18 pm

    I can’t say that I have any experience on running hills – where we live is FLAT!

  • Katie February 5, 2010, 2:24 pm

    I LOVE hills!! I live in a pretty hilly area, so I try to plan my runs through BIG hills! It makes me feel so much more confident when I approach a big hill during a race.

  • Sarah @ The Foodie Diaries February 5, 2010, 2:28 pm

    i’ve always been intimidated by hills because i’m super injury-prone and i feel like my legs just reeeeeeeallly don’t like extra hillage

  • Tay February 5, 2010, 2:30 pm

    Oh I LOVE hills! It’s impossible to find a completely flat route around me, and I honestly hate flat routes. I feel like they’re harder and drag on. Hills add challenge, and it’s so amazing to make it up the hill. And then there’s downhill after after that of course 😉

  • Katie @ Health for the Whole Self February 5, 2010, 2:36 pm

    I tackle hills by putting my head down and PUSHING! Often I end up running FASTER on hills because I just get into such a mental ZONE! Of course, then I’m beat by the time I reach the top and end up slowly down significantly…oh well! 🙂

  • Erin (Travel, Eat, Repeat) February 5, 2010, 2:39 pm

    I am SUCH a hill wimp — unless it’s the very end of my run and then I plow through.

  • Retta @ RunRettaRun February 5, 2010, 2:42 pm

    I used to do a walk/run combo but I push myself to do them, even if it’s a snail-paced jogging, I want to take them on w/o walking!

  • Abby February 5, 2010, 2:43 pm

    AS you know Pittsburgh is ALL HILLS! And I live in the west hills so there is no avoiding them! I tackle the hill.. but if I need to, I will stop only once I’ve reached the top. Phew.

  • Suzanne February 5, 2010, 2:46 pm

    I just try to tackle them. It’s a great strength workout and since I moved to a hilly neighborhood I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten noticeably faster. I read recently that the trick to hills is to pitch your weight forward as you run (as if you would fall forward if you were on flat land). It really helps to move more quickly up those buggers!

  • Amy B @ Second City Randomness February 5, 2010, 2:55 pm

    Oh that looks like the running conditions in my hometown! Our house was situated right around a huge curve on a road that was somewhat heavily traveled for where we lived because there was a camping grounds past where we lived(seriously, how country do I sound right now???). Anyhoo, I had to keep the music level down so I wasn’t afraid of getting taken out by a massive truck with a boat or something equally terrifying…

  • Brittany February 5, 2010, 2:57 pm

    That looks like the rural backroads I run on in Virginia…I can’t imagine how nice it would be to have sidewalks and to not have to worry about the potential of dogs chasing me. Haha I need to move to Florida 😉

  • Jenna @ RunEatRide February 5, 2010, 3:00 pm

    Love hills :p i was always taught by my cross country coach that hills are the place you pass people so I am used to running hard up hills.

  • Juli D. February 5, 2010, 3:24 pm

    I also run in the middle of nowhere and get scared sometimes too! But I noticed in your photo you might be running on the wrong side of the road? You should never run with your back to oncoming traffic, you should always run on the left side of the road. This way, you can see the cars coming that are closest to you and are much less likely to get hit.

    • caitlin February 5, 2010, 5:16 pm

      well, that’s because i was right around a blind corner – i try to switch sides to avoid blind spots. sometimes, if you run on the ‘right’ side of the road, you are right in a blind spot!! be careful out there! cars are scurrrrrrrrry.

  • Ashley @ Good Taste. Healthy Me February 5, 2010, 3:52 pm

    Good for you on getting out there! I hate it when I’m out and a big dog comes bounding into the road. Why don’t these people keep closer eyes on their pets!?

  • Alison February 5, 2010, 4:05 pm

    Oh my gosh, Caitlin, that is how ALL the roads look in upstate NY! And sometimes the little shoulder isn’t even there! I usually run about a foot away from oncoming cars. It’s scary. Anyway, I tackle hills by shortening my stride and dropping my arms, but keeping the same pace. I’m glad you’re getting out and about in TN!

  • Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg February 5, 2010, 4:10 pm

    Good for you for going for it! Our neighborhood has lots of blind spots, and I hate it. The streets also lack sidewalks, and many drivers are “less than friendly,” ie, will try to RUN YOU OFF THE ROAD. It pisses me off so badly!

  • Mary (Food Fit & Fun) February 5, 2010, 4:13 pm

    hahaha love the pepper spray! I tend to just tackle the hills head on as well. I do slow my pace a bit though!

  • Bronwyn February 5, 2010, 4:21 pm

    tackle. and conquer.

  • Tonyne @ Unlikely Success Story February 5, 2010, 4:30 pm

    I run until I can’t run anymore and then I walk…on hills that is. 🙂 On my first 5k, I met a Tri-athlete while I was stretching…the course had hills and I live at the beach (no hills to train on) so I told her I was a little nervous about those and she told me “Always look up when running up a hill…if you look down at the road or look down behind you, you’re done. Just look up and run until you can run no more.” Her advise has served me well. 🙂

  • Trainerpack February 5, 2010, 4:42 pm

    You are brave to run like that!

  • Bubblej February 5, 2010, 5:14 pm

    I try and keep my normal pace going as far up the hill as I can and then I will walk the rest of the way. I try and get further up the hill while running each time. One day I’ll run all the way up the steep hill on my route…one day…
    The steep hill also doesn’t have footpaths. I just run against the traffic so I can see the cars coming and I keep as far to the side as I can. Lucky its a quiet area so I don’t have many problems.

  • Allison K February 5, 2010, 5:14 pm

    I haven’t run hills regularly in sooo long! I live in a BIG valley and everything is pretty flat, especially my neighborhood.
    When I was home for Christmas I did one run with hills. Oh man. My strategy was to dig in and head up the hill (slower than usual)

  • Cynthia (It All Changes) February 5, 2010, 5:15 pm

    I tackle hills head on just slower. But good for you for running despite the dogs and blind spots.

  • Amanda February 5, 2010, 5:27 pm

    I tackle hills head on. I’m actually pretty decent at hills and I’ve passed alot of people during races on hills. I always run with pepper spray also for dogs and weirdos. I’ve had to spray 3 dogs already. The joys of living in the south!

  • Nicci February 5, 2010, 6:04 pm

    Happy to hear no big dogs got you on the run.

  • Jessica @ Fit Chick Wannabe February 5, 2010, 6:04 pm

    I always try to tackle hills head on. But I normally end up having to walk them. I think it’s good that I try though!

    Question for you: How do you take action shots of yourself? Is someone doing it for you? Or do you set your camera up on the timer, and then run past it? lol

    • caitlin February 5, 2010, 6:05 pm

      self timer!

  • Gracie @ Girl Meets Health February 5, 2010, 7:01 pm

    I think what I’d be most afraid of is getting lost!

  • Cat February 5, 2010, 7:04 pm

    I LOVE running hills. Actually, sprinting them. I live in San Francisco, so it’s good that I love them:) Also, running uphill is better on your knees (I worry about protecting them from injury). There’s also a lot of evidence that running hills helps improve your speed as a runner, mostly because it’s anaerobic and not purely aerobic:


  • Julia February 5, 2010, 7:38 pm

    My philosophy is that hills make one a better runner. I actually try to speed up the hills. It pays off during races when people look at you in awe when you breeze by them on the uphill! 🙂

  • Morgan February 5, 2010, 9:00 pm

    I think you should write about road safety-especially coming into spring when more runners will be back outside! A lot of people don’t know about blind spot and the best sides of the road to run on-Runner’s World had a really nice article with pictures on where to run in all types of scenarios. I’m pretty sure it’s on their website.

  • Sammi February 5, 2010, 9:19 pm

    I tackle them like they’re nothing! lol. okay, maybe not like they’re NOTHING. I do shorten my steps and slow my pace a little though (depending on how bad the hill is).
    I really need to get some pepper spray! I honestly don’t even know where to buy the stuff though.

  • caronae February 5, 2010, 9:52 pm

    I like to tackle the hills.
    I was actually attacked by a dog when I was running on some local dirt roads at home in Michigan over the summer. It tried to bite my leg, but I was sprinting, so it only got my shoe — it left a huge bite mark though, and that could have been my leg. It was so scary!

    • Caitlin February 6, 2010, 8:12 am

      ohmigod that is terrifying! i am glad he didnt get your leg!!! way to run FAST!

  • Lily @ Lily's Health Pad February 5, 2010, 10:21 pm

    I tackle the hills. I like to get them over with! Plus, I am not a huge fan of the Galloway Method.

  • Jolene ( February 5, 2010, 11:47 pm

    What a beautiful place to run … looks like a scene from TV 🙂

  • John February 6, 2010, 1:04 am

    I could be wrong but it looked like you were running with traffic? I was always taught to walk/run against traffic. Makes the running easier I find in heavy traffic areas.

    • Caitlin February 6, 2010, 8:11 am

      see re: to #54 🙂

  • Nicole February 6, 2010, 9:13 am

    I tackle hills head on. I’ve always lived in very hilly areas so there’s no avoiding them. Usually I end up slowing the pace down when I come to a hill but I try to make up for it by speeding up on the way down.
    My mom’s house is in a very rural area too so I completely understand the big dogs/no sidewalks/blind spot thing. It’s SO scary! Good job with being so careful!

  • sirenjess February 6, 2010, 10:21 am

    I tackle hills head on. I actually love hills. I just take quick steps and try to maintain my pace. I live in San Antonio so there are some areas where we have some good hills. I don’t believe in stopping or slowing down on hills. For me it’s more painful to slow down.

  • Alexandra February 6, 2010, 8:39 pm

    I tackle hills like a football player!

  • Ally February 9, 2010, 12:35 am

    I suck at uphills, but I FLY down hills. I don’t know what it is, but I am so damn fast on them, and my legs don’t hurt either. I recently did a 10.5km race that was half uphill and half down (11% incline) – I crawled up but FLEW down that bad boy.

Previous post:

Next post:

Healthy Tipping Point