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Keith Tse


  • Writer's pictureKeith Tse

Uphill/downhill stretch

I realised quite recently that the driveway to my residence was actually on a slanted slope. This came to my awareness when I forgot to put on the parking brake the other day after I had finished driving around the block (!). The vehicle started sliding backwards and would have collided if I had not halted it eventually with my footbrake, which was technically a legal driving offence (so glad that no one saw me, though it must have been recorded on CCTV somewhere, the footage of which I must destroy before anyone sees it…!). Nonetheless, I still found it funny how the vehicle would move on its own accord, due to a force that we now know as gravity. This has not occurred to me before, the fact that the driveway to my residence was perched on a hill, and it may be a trivial observation, though it did give me an explanation as to why I would always feel tired at the end of my daily run as I ran into our car park, a feeling of which was not just being breathless fatigue but actual pain in my leg muscles. This would be explained by the fact that I am essentially running uphill, which is particularly strenuous at the end of a proper run. None of this is felt while driving in since a vehicle is powered and unless you are foolish like me in forgetting to put on any type of brakes while stationary, you would not notice that you were going up a slope, which, in all fairness, is quite slight (though significant and noticeable to pedestrians). This also made me realise that whenever I started running out of the block, I was in effect running downhill, which would explain why I do not usually pant very much at the beginning of each run. All this I took for granted as natural laws of metabolism, as fatigue and tiredom only begin to kick in after significant physical exercise, and it is no surprise that I only get tired towards the end of the run and not at the beginning. However, this little driving incident added a bit more nuance to my understanding of my own running patterns, since running on slopes is excruciatingly tiring and painful, the extent of which multiplies through age. Going downhill, on the other hand, is relatively straightforward, since one is going with the physical flow of gravity, though due caution is needed with the descent as excessive impact on one’s feet can cause serious injury and damage to one’s knees and ankles. Running out of and into my residence has also made me realise that what goes up, come down, and vice versa. The slope and geography of my residence do not change, and as I run into and out of it, I go through different patches of relative comfort (downhill) and arduity (uphill) which form mirror images of each other as I enter and exit the property. Such is an analogy of life: there may be easy stages of one’s life when one feels relatively confident and at ease with what one is doing, though there inevitably will be some difficult periods in wait of us, after which things turn pristine and rosy again, the highs and lows of which constitute cycles. Furthermore, the difficult uphills in life tend to be the most beneficial, as it is only through difficulty that one grows and develops, something which I can vouch for myself by my slow and sluggish climb uphill at the end of each run, the sheer pain and inertia of which are absolutely torturous though also fantastic for my cardiovascular threshold. Running on a flat surface may be easier, though it is necessary to go through some highs and lows in one’s life so that one learns to grow through the difficulties and appreciate the good through the prosperity. Never realised that living on a hill would be this fun.

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