If you've ever attempted to go for a run in Montreal, chances are you've come across a beastly hill at some point. It's unavoidable, and at this point, Montrealers are well aware that no matter where you venture in this city, you'll end up climbing a hill at some point. So when it comes to running, you know you're getting a serious thigh workout regardless of the jogging path you choose.
Among the most challenging of running experiences, the path up to the Mount Royal lookout is undoubtedly the King of running routes in Montreal. Certainly not for the faint of heart, the huge staircases and steep inclines make for one of the most challenging workouts you could put yourself through.
But every great obstacle comes with some serious difficulties. They say nothing worth it is ever easy, and that's never been truer when it comes to the Mount Royal run. So, if you've ever had a momentary lapse in sanity, and tried to run up the mountain, you'll identify with these struggles we all face when attempting the great feat of Mount Royal.
1. Getting tired before you even get to the first set of stairs
This is always my problem. I start out on the path feeling great, thinking that finally, I might be able to do this whole thing without feeling like I'm about to die. And then I realize how far the first staircase actually is, and how basically the entire path leading up to it is uphill, and my morale drops pretty damn fast.
Please, learn from my mistakes, fellow runners. Don't go too fast at the beginning. Save yourself. This first stretch will determine how the rest of this gruelling trail will go for you.
2. Going up the first set of stairs way too fast
If you were smart and paced yourself for the first leg of the path, then the first staircase is where your eager ambition may catch up with you. You might show up there feeling great. You might get there feeling like you are a goddamn fitness God who can't be tamed. And who knows, maybe you are. But for us average folk, the first staircase is where dreams go to die.
We all know what ends up happening every time; we take the stairs two at a time, pushing ourselves, and think, 'It's not so bad! Look how short it is!' We use the first meagre staircase to try and convince ourselves we can speed up for the rest of the path. This is not the case. Pace yourself at this part or risk collapsing at the next set of stairs (not like that's ever happened to me or anything).
3. Seriously considering quitting once you see the next staircase
Oh, this staircase. This is not even a staircase, it's an army of deathly climbs stacked on top of each other. It's flight after flight of cruelty. You thought the first set was bad? Oh, you had no idea what was coming. This is always where I seriously consider just turning the hell around and saving myself before things get ugly.
One of the worst parts about this, too, is watching tons of other runners just saunter on up here and start sprinting two stairs at a time like it's no big deal. Wtf!? Didn't they need time to soak in the gravity of what's about to happen? What are they, made of elastic? Either way, this is usually where my boyfriend has to nearly drag me toward the first stair.
4. Seeing grandmas, children, and pregnant ladies go faster than you
Ok, maybe this is a bit of an exaggeration, but when you're about halfway up and start to slow down, it feels like everyone around you is travelling at the speed of light. While you're huffing and puffing like a dying rhino, and your legs are about to give out, it's the ultimate annoyance when grandpas are leisurely passing you.
Alternatively, it's infuriating when you're in the zone, finally making record timing up those ungodly stairs, and you have to wait for families of six to get out of the way so you can continue. Basically, what I'm saying is this second staircase is a no-win zone. So close, yet so far.
5. When your legs start giving out on the last few stairs
If you don't recognize this burning, excruciating feeling, then you're either Jillian Michaels or have no capacity for physical pain. Even though I claimed that the second set of stairs were the worst part of this run, truthfully, it's these last few steps that are the real killer.
I have a love-hate relationship with this moment in the run. Part of me is all, 'Don't give up! You made it this far!'. And the other part is wondering, 'Death? Is that you?' Somehow, you've made it this far, and quitting isn't an option, but damn, those last few steps will make your thighs and glutes feel like jelly.
6. Realizing you still have to run up that stupid little path to the top
Oh, so you made it up the stairs? The hard part is over, right? No. No, it is not, because after you climb 2,567 flights of stairs, you're not even at the top yet. There's still this ridiculous, and surprisingly steep, dirt path between you and the lookout.
This part is just beyond infuriating. As if anyone has the energy left to just seamlessly keep running right up to the top. Damn you, dirt path, for getting in the way of our pride.
7. Finally making it, then having to wait at the water fountain
Nothing kills the buzz of achievement like tourists with fanny packs that are taking five minutes to drink from a water fountain, while you stand by, sweating and panting, clearly in deeper need for hydration.
So, PSA to all the tourists, and even Montrealers who just leisurely climbed the mountain - let the runners go first, because honestly, we don't have the energy to stand up for ourselves, so just be nice and let us drink. Plus, we can see your car parked comfortably in the nearby lot. You drove, we ran, family of six. Be a good samaritan and save a Mount Royal runner in the process.
8. Not being able to enjoy the view because you're trying to recover.
The main reason everyone climbs Mount Royal is obviously for the incredible view at the lookout, and when you get up there, you'll want to enjoy it too of course.
But it's kind of hard to relish in a gorgeous view of Montreal when you're pouring sweat and can barely hear yourself talk because you're trying desperately to catch your breath. And even when you do recover slightly and want to take in the view, it's kind of awkward to elbow your way past everyone taking photos when you're feeling (and probably looking) a little disheveled.
Either way, try your best to take in the view, and pat yourself on the back for all your hard work getting up there. The Mount Royal run is definitely not easy, but the challenge is worth the reward - and at least we know we're not alone in all the struggles that this route brings.