World-class sky runner Hillary Allen fell off a cliff. Literally. But broken ribs, a fractured back, a ruptured ligament in her foot, and broken wrists didn’t stop her from rising back up after the horrific accident. Now that’s badass!
In 2017, world-class ultrarunner, Hillary Allen, was at the top of her sport and it felt like she was running on top of the world as she competed in Norway’s Tromsø Skyrace. She was nearly halfway through the 50k race when she fell 150 feet off an exposed ridge.
In her book, “Out and Back: A Runner’s Story of Survival and Recovery Against All Odds,” Hillary recounts the dramatic story of her accident and rescue, and her fight to return to the life she loves.
With vulnerability that reveals remarkable strength and introspection that yields wisdom, Allen shares in this episode of the Success Through Failure podcast the story of her recovery— both physically and mentally— the hard-earned knowledge that the path forward is not always linear, that healing takes time, and that the process of rediscovery is ongoing as she learns what it takes to survive and thrive. Don’t miss her story. Tune in now.
If you don’t have time to listen to the entire episode or if you hear something that you like but don’t have time to write it down, be sure to grab your free copy of the Action Plan from this episode— as well as get access to action plans from EVERY episode— at JimHarshawJr.com/Action.
[00:00] Hillary Allen: During this race halfway through, I was on this Ridge line called the Humper rock and Ridge, and it's, you know, third class terrain I'm comfortable on and a rock gave way underneath my foot. And I ended up falling, 150 feet off of this Ridge line.
[00:20] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Welcome to another episode of success through failure.
[00:23] This is your host, Jim Harshaw, Jr., and today I bring you Hillary Allen. You listen to podcasts, read books, follow the experts on social media, and you find yourself getting mediocre results in your business, in your health, in your relationships. And you know, you're not living up to your full potential.
[00:40] You've not broken through the limiting beliefs that are holding you back. And if you continue on this path, there are consequences. If nothing changes. Imagine looking back in 20 years with regret and thinking, what if, like, what if I could have found a way to unlock my true potential? Like how would life be different. Well, you can unlock your true potential. I'm hosting our second annual retreat May 13th through 15th, titled moving to mastery. We're going to take all of the book knowledge that you've learned and all of the life experiences that you've lived and turn it into results. It's going to be an intense weekend of deep learning and power, a full immersive experiences that don't stop when you leave, but actually include an additional 30 days of growth. Following the retreat, we've reserved a private lodge and event center, all to ourselves located on 330 acres just outside of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It's an hour and a half drive from two major airports, du and BWI. So it's easy access from. Anywhere in the United States or Canada space is limited.
[01:45] So if you are interested in self mastery and finally getting the results, you know, you're capable of reach out to me as soon as possible to apply. Just go to Jim harsh show jr.com/retreat. It's time for you to move to mastery. In 2017, Hillary was at the top of her sport and the name of her sport is called sky running and she was competing in this race in Norway.
[02:14] She was about halfway through this 50K race when she fell off of a 150 foot cliff. Obviously sustained serious injuries. And then there was a question whether she was gonna survive of course, for a while. And, and then even be able to, to walk again, let alone run again. Well, she actually began running again and she shares this comeback story in this episode.
[02:36] It's absolutely incredible. She's an incredible human being. She's both charming and a bad us at the same time. As you'll hear in this episode, the. Type of running that she does this sky running. She talks a little bit about a rate in the very beginning of the episode, about the elevations that they, gain and descend, as well as the elevations that they run.
[02:56] It's just absolutely incredible. She's a professional runner and she's sponsored by Brooks running, Pinella bikes and other place called the feed out there. I told her I give a little, a shout out to her sponsors be cuz she actually was sponsored by north face at one time as well. I mean she is. One of the biggest names in her sport and she shares this amazing comeback story.
[03:13] And she's extremely vulnerable. I mean, this is real stuff from a real professional athlete, so I'm not gonna go into it anymore because the interview is just incredible. So let's get right to it. My interview with Hilary Allen, let's start by helping the listener. Understand what is sky running?
[03:32] Hillary Allen: Yeah. So sky running, it's kind of, it's definitely a niche kind of.
[03:38] I'd like to describe it as a, as a niche, little. Tree branch like a branch from a, the base of the trail running tree of trail running. So trail running is something that started it's, you know, it's off trail. It's not on a road. usually in the mountains, I'm based here in Colorado. So I love to run on trails, but I got into this thing called sky running, which is, it's kind of an extreme version of trail running.
[03:59] it involves mores steep and technical terrain. It involves some third or fourth class movement, over a certain terrain.
[04:08] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: What do you mean by third or fourth class?
[04:11] Hillary Allen: Yes. So this is a good question. So usually I start with class one, usually that's running, right? So one appendant job, the ground class two is like you have to hike.
[04:21] It might be a bit steeper where you can't really run. Class three is where you can, you have to put kind of another, appendage down. So like a hand to stab stabilize yourself. And class four is of your. Moving a bit slower. It's steeper terrain. You're kind of putting both hands down to stabilize yourself.
[04:37] So this is where we're getting into kind of more vertical mountain terrain.
[04:41] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: So is that why like rock climbing is vertical fight. You call it like a rock climb might be 5, 10, 5 11. That kinda thing. Yeah.
[04:47] Hillary Allen: So cuz like class five is straight vertical terrain. So this is, this is, you know, where you have. You actually have to be more climbing.
[04:54] So class four is less than vertical, but it's still quite steep. and so there's, there's common, you know, there's common trails that do that, but it's more mountain running. So I'm into the, the ultra distance type of, of sky running, but a typical ultra. So like a 30 mile. Race would gain anywhere between, you know, 12,000 to 14,000 feet of gain.
[05:18] And then you would descend it in that same 30 mile run. So this is the, this is the type of running that I like to do and the type of racing that I like to do.
[05:26] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: And for the listeners, just to put in perspective, I did a Spartan race, a half marathon, Spartan race a couple of months ago, and it was. 2000 feet of elevation gain.
[05:34] And I was like, complaining about that, cuz that's, I mean, that's a lot, I mean, as far as the Spartan race goes and a half marathon goes like 2000, it's a lot, you get into 10,000 plus. I mean that is astronomical. The numbers that, that Hillary's talking about just to put that in perspective.
[05:48] Hillary Allen: Yeah. So, I mean, it's obviously it's a bit different there.
[05:51] The best kept secret of ultra running and trail running sky running is that you actually kind of power hike the really steep terrain. So it's, it's just a practice of how to, how to move your body most efficiently and safely over. Over that train.
[06:04] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: So you weren't a runner until later in your life. It's not like you grew up running, you didn't, I don't think you ran cross country in high school or anything like that.
[06:10] Right. So tell me about your, your journey into discovering running.
[06:14] Hillary Allen: Yeah, so I guess I would say I did run, I dabbled in it. I did come from a running family, but my. Sister was really good at running. And so I would kind of like hang out and, and run just for fun. And for fitness, I was always into ball sports.
[06:29] So , I was the kid in my family who had coordination, my sister didn't. So since I could catch a ball, I played ball sports and, I decided on tennis. In high school and then I got a scholarship to play tennis in college. but all of meanwhile, I was obviously running for training. I think I did cross country for fun, obviously, for training, for tennis.
[06:51] I actually didn't get into running as a sport in itself until graduate school. So I was, I was on the track. I mean, I've known from when I was a little kid that I wanted to go to graduate school. And so I was getting, I was in a PhD program for neuroscience and physiology, at CU Denver here in Colorado.
[07:10] And I. I needed a break. I needed some sort of reset and tennis was too time consuming. It was too expensive, certainly for a grad student stipend. And so I turned to running because it was a pretty efficient way to stay in shape and. I had done it before. So I was like, okay, maybe I should embrace this.
[07:28] And cuz I refused to believe that in graduate school you were too busy to just like eliminate all physical activity. So I was like, well, this isn't be, I have always been an athlete and I'm not gonna stop now. So I started running kind of with a local road group here in Denver. And then ironically, that was a group like 50 year old ladies.
[07:45] We'd meet at five 30 in the morning, three days a week. Even on a Saturday and I could get my kind of run in before heading to the lab, like seven 30 or eight. And one of them actually was a trail runner and I wanted to run a marathon. So she'd trained me for my first marathon. And then every Sunday she used as a recovery run and I would just, and she'd encourage me to go to the trails, not look at the pace of my watch and gonna go by feel and.
[08:12] I was kind of scared because having grown up in Colorado, I knew you could hike on the trails, but I didn't know, running on the trails was a thing. Like, not that there are rules that you can't, but I just didn't know. And then that Sunday recovery run turned into something much bigger after I ran my first road marathon did another on the roads and I was like, I don't like this.
[08:35] The trails are where it's at. And then I literally just started running on the trails all the time.
[08:39] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Yeah. And you got pretty good pretty quickly. I mean, you found that this was something that you have a little bit of natural talent for maybe some physical gifts, but also some mental gifts because it's freaking tough and something you fell in love with.
[08:53] Hillary Allen: Yeah. So I think the thing that I fell in love with trail running and, and maybe of course I do have some talent. Right. And I think I was able to discover that through running, but the thing that I kind of relied on, when I first started getting into it was hard work. Yeah.
[09:07] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: And I, by the way, I don't wanna minimize, like, I think it's easy for people to go, oh yeah, you have a gift, you discover this thing.
[09:13] And also you got really good at it and it wasn't hard for you. No, it was like, it is really hard. I mean, you found a passion, I should say. And, and you were willing to put in the work to maximize your
[09:21] Hillary Allen: gifts. Yeah. And that's a thing that I yeah. To, to mimic that. I mean, I think no matter how talented you are, if you don't have the hard work to back it up, then it doesn't really go anywhere.
[09:31] And for me, that's always something that I've, I'm one that's pretty hard on myself. So I don't think I'll admit very readily that I'm very talented. I would just say that I worked really hard and the reason I worked really hard is because I loved it so much. And just that feeling of going out on the trail, seeing the improvement from day to day, On, like how running the certain distance or a time got easier or a certain train, whether that's steep train or Rocky train, it got easier.
[09:57] The more I practiced it. So really leaned into that. And I was just motivated to, to get better and see improvements. And I love that about something that's, you know, that requires a lot of hard work because you get to see the benefits rather quickly. And so
[10:11] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: when did you start racing and, and started getting into international racing and becoming world class?
[10:16] I mean, that was that's, another whole journey there. Right,
[10:21] Hillary Allen: right. And I think it happened pretty quickly for me. So I started running in general, long distance in 2011. I ran my first marathon, 2012, and then I was kind of devoted to the trail that took a little break in there cuz grad school got crazy.
[10:36] I, Did my first like trail race in 2014 and I raced a 50 mile race actually that year. And I had no idea what to expect. It was a, it was a, a race in Wyoming and the big horn mountains, relatively well known in the trail community, in the United States, at least. And I ended up winning the race and setting a course record.
[11:00] So it was after that, that I decided. Huh. Okay. Maybe I should try this out. I'm gonna try some more races cuz I never really tr I wanted to try races as a means to like see if I could be elite. I wanted to do races in some really cool places and discover it kind of on my own because I grew up. camping in Colorado going to all the national parks nearly have visited all 50 states, but I was doing that, you know, with my family as a young kid.
[11:29] So it was, I really wanted to revisit these wild places that I had been, but discover them as a young adult and through running and. And so I started putting some more races on my calendar. In 2014 was kind of when I started racing this stuff called sky running, I entered my first sky running race later that summer in July in, Utah, it was called the speed goat, notoriously hard race.
[11:53] You're not only at altitude, but then, you know, you're climbing over 11,000 feet in 31 miles. and I think I placed, it was a very strong actually international field. I think I placed top five chasing down. I remember this woman, Ellie Greenwood, she's like comrade's winner Western states winner. She's just an incredible athlete.
[12:12] And I was like, oh my gosh, like I didn't catch her, but I was like close. And so then after that, I really leaned into this. I felt like I had discovered something that I really, and that was sky running. And so then 2014, I. Raced, several more sky races ended up winning the us sky running series in 2014, which is what propelled me onto the international and global scene.
[12:34] And the very next year I went across the pond to race in Shay, France. And notoriously Americans haven't done so well there because the train is so is even steeper than we're used to here. And I ended up placing third in my first international race in 2015 in the mlong 90 K. So this is a 90 kilometer race with over.
[12:55] 20,000 feet of vertical gain. And then that's kind of where that's where things started in 2015, I signed with the north face, my first big sponsor. And yeah, from there, it's kind of, history
[13:10] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: you hit the world scene and, and you just start checking off success after success at the, at the global love.
[13:16] And then you're in a race in Norway. And I, I'm not gonna try to pronounce this at the, the Trump cell. Is that the name of it? You did a good job. Yep. All right. Close enough. Right? Close enough for a podcast interview. So, and you're in this race and the unthinkable happens. Can you take us back to that moment?
[13:36] Hillary Allen: Yeah. So this was in 2017, like it was after, you know, several seasons of racing, the sky running series and kind of just devoting my, my year to racing these series and the style of races. And, 2017, I was having the season of my life. I was actually. Winning the whole entire world sky running series at this point.
[13:58] And it's what brought me to Trump. So, and I wanna do this race for forever. It was iconic in the community and just very technical and beautiful running. And I mean, even a poor performance at this race, wasn't gonna knock me off the podium. I was having like a great season, but during this race halfway through, I was on this Ridge line called the Humper rock and Ridge and it's.
[14:21] You know, third class terrain I'm comfortable on and a rock gave way underneath my foot. And I ended up falling, 150 feet off of this Ridge line. I mean, I was, I was so many things were in my favor that it was during a race that someone saw me that it was a clear day in Norway and they were able to get a helicopter into rescue me.
[14:44] But this was one of those pivotal moments where, you know, your life is different after, after something like this happens. And I had broke 14 bones in. You know, pretty lucky to be alive, but, I was told that I would probably never run again, let alone compete at a high level. And you know, that was extremely devastating to hear because I, that was something, you know, that had devoted my career to, at this point.
[15:13] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: And so begins. A long road to what we now know as recovery, but you didn't know that at the time. So you get evacuated out of there in a helicopter and. Take to the hospital. And at what point did you sort, did it hit you that like, this is not going to be my future anymore? Or did it hit you? Did you ever accept that?
[15:38] Hillary Allen: I mean, it wasn't right away. I think like through the rescue operation, I was just, I was scared that I. You know, was paralyzed or that, you know, it was something more serious. Right. I hadn't even thought about running at that point, but it was, you know, the fifth day in the hospital bed when I hadn't even been able to move out of bed that I just started to question why, like, what would my mobility look like for the rest of my life?
[16:02] Like, could I heal? I had never broken a bone until now. And. You know, it wasn't and then I don't think it really was until maybe even a couple weeks after the initial accident where I started to kind of question. Okay. Like, What does this mean for, for running again? And this was kind of after I had like three operations on two, on my wrists and one on my foot to repair this pretty serious ligament tear in my foot.
[16:31] That's when I really started to question how I was gonna get through, like I had survived the accident, but I felt like the real point of survival be and multiple times. And the first of which was. After these surgeries and I'm just trying to survive every day in this new state where I felt, you know, completely hopeless and helpless and needed to rely on everyone just to like, you know, feed myself or dress myself in the morning.
[17:00] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: And for the listener, like you hear Hillary say hopeless and helpless it's those are easy words that just roll off the tongue, but this was. This was a reality for her. And you, you know, Hillary, you had some real low points in, in the hospital, in your recovery. For example, in the book you say that you got to a point where you said this to yourself, and this is a quote from the book you said, I can't do this anymore.
[17:22] I wish the accident had killed me. This is too hard. How am I supposed to get through another day? I don't see a point life. I don't see any reason to keep going. Can I do this? How will I do this? What was that moment like?
[17:36] Hillary Allen: Yeah. So I have always used writing as a form of catharsis. So those aren't made up words.
[17:45] Those are real words from my journal. and I used, I think it's healthy to put reality to emotion in, especially in those extremely desperate moments, because if they're not expressed, I think they could turn into something. You know, more negative. I mean, those words are extremely negative, right? When you read them.
[18:10] but what I get from them is just this, this feeling of just despair and that's where I was at. And that's not the only time that I had written those words down in my journal. And I think for me, it's, it's admitting to that reality and admitting that I'm feeling at low that's what allowed me to actually turn the corner and to still choose, to keep going.
[18:32] Is because even though I might not see a point to life at this moment, I'm so uncertain of what the future holds. It seems incredibly impossible to, you know, even get through the next hour, let alone the next day or weeks or months. But even admitting that to myself, I knew I didn't wanna give up. There was something inside of me that, although I felt those things, I still chose to bet on myself and I still chose to do what I could in that moment to keep going and to keep working persistently towards, you know, the next day, even.
[19:10] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: it's interesting, you mentioned it's important to put reality to emotion and as you, as I read this. At the end, the last two sentences after you saying this is too hard, how am I supposed to go another day? I don't see a point to life. You said, can I do this? Which is a little bit of a different tone.
[19:27] And then how will I do this is a completely different tone. It's still desperate, but it's a different tone. You're putting reality to like this, this to spare. And almost like I, I really believe in journaling and I really believe that people can. Can coach themselves in a lot of ways through journaling, through writing.
[19:47] And you can hear you, you take these thoughts that are in your head, this despair, this hopelessness, this hopelessness, you put it into words that are in front of you on a page and you read them. And you can, you can evaluate them then instead of just it being a feeling inside of your body and thoughts swirling around in your head, that aren't even words, they're just these thoughts, that race, you put them into real words on a page, and now you can evaluate them and actually ask yourself, can I do this?
[20:13] Well, maybe how, how will I do this? And, and for the listen, I want you to understand that. Success through this journey for Hillary was not a foregone conclusion. She didn't say like, well, I have to get through this point because I'm gonna have this book and I'm gonna have this great comeback. And it's gonna be amazing.
[20:28] Like, none of that was known. There was no foregone conclusion here. Like she was building her path as she went. And so I want the listener to understand that this is. This is real. This is a, a real, these are real words that, that came outta Hillary and, and, and you obviously have come back and, and gotten on the other side of this.
[20:45] So you also talk in the book about letting go of expectation. You said you learned to let go of expectation. What do you mean by that?
[20:54] Hillary Allen: Hmm, it took me a while and I'm still, I'm still figur it out, but yeah, it was. I spent so long. And I think, you know, many of us do through if, if it's a recovery from injury or just a big life change of, I mentioned this life is different.
[21:11] After a certain point, life is, was different for me post accident. And it's a defining moment that I can't change, but it will forever shape my future. And I was holding onto who I was before. And I was comparing myself to her, not only from an athletic point of view, obviously, because as athletes, we're constantly trying to PR reach that next level.
[21:34] We're better than we were yesterday, but I felt that that was detrimental because I was holding onto this version of myself that was on. And that will never be there. I will never be like I was before the accident. And. When I first thought about it, I got discouraged. And I thought that this was a whole, this was negative.
[21:52] And that I couldn't how there a point. Right. Especially as an athlete, trying to, you know, get to the next level and be better than you were before. And I felt that this accident had made me worse, but it wasn't until I let go of expectation. And I let go of trying to compare my self to my old self, compare myself to pre-accident Hilary, that I actually was able to reach a new level and.
[22:16] That was the most liberating thing in the world, because upon letting go of that comparison and letting go of expectation on myself to be the same, to reach the same level, when I finally decided to return to racing and I was actually healthy enough to run again, I was no longer comparing myself. And that allowed me to kind of break through this, this bubble and this barrier, and to actually break through to another level, discover kind of other sets of strengths that I had, and to actually reach better performances because I had let go of this expectation.
[22:52] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Boy, letting go was a big part of my getting over the hump as well as an athlete is going from, you know, a close to achieving something meaningful. And one of my medium goals of being an all American. To finally getting onto the podium. It was about letting go. I had an epiphany moment where I had to let go.
[23:07] I let go of everything. I let go of success. I let go of failure. I let go of everything. It just said, all I can do is all I can do. And when you get to that moment where you just put down the baggage, It frees you up to be fully yourself. So I, I implo the listener to go back and, you know, hit, rewind and, and listen to those last couple of minutes again, and really try to internalize that for yourself.
[23:29] Quick interruption. Hey, if you like what you're hearing, be sure to get the notes quotes in links in the action plan from this episode, just go to jimharshawjr.com/action. That's jimharshawjr.com/action. To get your free copy of the action plan. Now back to the show.
[23:47] Hillary Allen: Yeah, because I think you said it too, it's letting go of that failure.
[23:51] I was so afraid that I would fail and that I wouldn't live up to who I was before, but that was holding me back. And the irony in it all is that as soon as I let go of that fear and is like, I'm not afraid to fail. I'm really not because I'm just gonna try, letting go of that is what allowed me to actually push further than I thought would ever be possible.
[24:15] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: And you talk about affirmations in the book, you know, and this is something that we think that athletes just use for competition, but you wrote a mantra just two weeks after the doctors told you you hill, or you will never run again. These are the experts. These are the people who know, they see the injuries every day.
[24:32] They said you will never run again. And two weeks later you rode down. This affirmation, you said this, you said believe your best athletic days are ahead of you. Believe in your power. Believe in your strength. Don't stop believing you wrote that in your journal. Did it work
[24:50] Hillary Allen: well, that's something I still use today.
[24:53] Believe that your best athletic days are ahead of you and even believe that your best days are ahead of you. But the, the crazy part is that when I first wrote it down, I thought I was so silly because I had no idea what my future would hold. I had never broken a bone. I had never gone through a series injury like this or series of injuries.
[25:11] I had no idea how hard recovery would be, and if I would even be able to compete again, But the cool thing about that is believe that your best athletic days are ahead of you. It, it wasn't tied to elite performance. It was just believing that my best athletic days are ahead of me. And that means, you know, fulfilling days out in the mountains, getting back to moving outside where I love it, wasn't related to performance.
[25:35] And so that's the wisdom that I think, think I had deep down inside and I. Honestly, I think it's been a go, it's been a process. It's been about four and a half years since the accident. And I don't think that I truly believed that my best athletic days were ahead of me until I crossed the finish line at my most recent race at Madera.
[25:58] This was 120 kilometer race, about 73 miles gained about 26,000 feet. Oh, 24,000 feet of gain descended about 26,000 feet. And I won the race and it was probably the most competitive race and biggest race of my ultra career. And crossing that finish line. I mean, I've gone through several more injuries since this accident and the recovery, but not one time did I, did I give up on myself and I kept on believing?
[26:30] And so I think, yes, I did believe that my best athletic days were ahead of me, but I don't think I was able to experience that belief in real life until I crossed that finish line. And it's something that encourages me to keep on riding down that mantra every day and work towards it.
[26:46] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Congratulations, what a great win and you write that down every day.
[26:51] Hillary Allen: I don't write it down every day, but I do look at it every day. I have it on my whiteboard. so, and obviously if you read something that is, you kind of saying it out loud, I do believe in the power of the written word. I write little to-do lists every day and you know, I think there's an important part of visualization in writing.
[27:07] And I definitely do that, working towards races and yeah. Tell
[27:12] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: me about that. Tell me about visualization, both in your recovery and competitively. Did you use visualization while you were in the hospital and during recovery, et cetera?
[27:21] Hillary Allen: So I use visualization many times. I mean, it wasn't always positive, right?
[27:26] Like sometimes wishing that I was running, but I think visualization kind of goes hand in hand with positivity, like mental positivity, like saying ha positive self talk and, and these kinds of things. And that's something that I used a lot during my recovery, especially days where it seemed almost impossible, just telling myself.
[27:45] Little mantras or things that I could do to get through a certain moment and whether it was like really tough physical therapy, or I felt really, really helpless and just hurting one day, I would use visualization as a way to. Kind of sounds like daydreaming as a way to kind of get me through that hard moment and saying, okay, I'm gonna do what I can today to reach like lay down this brick, this foundation today so that I can get to tomorrow and do the same thing.
[28:14] so I have this analogy in my mind, this visualization of me building a house. So I would. Each day was represented by a brick. And even if that brick got kind of cracked or it wasn't perfect, there was a little like ding in it. I would still lay it down in my, you know, metaphorical house. And I told myself, I saw that I was building some foundation.
[28:37] I didn't know what the house would look like, but I knew that each day was some sort of progress. And the more bricks I laid that one brick that was cracked other bricks around it wouldn't be, and that would reinforce the strength. And so that I think. Maybe it's not visualization of a certain race.
[28:53] Right? I do that when I'm preparing for a race itself, like visualize the course or visualizing, you know, myself feeling strong on, on this climb. But I think it's all, it's all related. It can be like a macro visualization or a micro visualization.
[29:10] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Yeah. And you speak at about the power of words and these little mantras and the words that you say.
[29:16] The negative ones are powerful too. And you know, you talking about in the book about challenging the negative voice, you said rather than ignore those negative thoughts, it was important for me to engage with them. How do you do that? How do you engage with that negative voice in those negative words?
[29:31] How do you engage? Like what do you mean by that?
[29:34] Hillary Allen: Yeah. And it's something, something that I haven't encourage people to do. For me, engaging with the negative thoughts is really important. And how I see it is that if I'm honest with them and I put them out on paper or tell them to someone that I trust it actually it eliminates the power that they hold over me.
[29:54] Because if I keep these negative thoughts in my head, they can become bigger and scarier and. As soon as I put them on paper and then I read it, I'm like, oh, this thing that seems so scary. It's just, it's here in this one sentence. It's not that bad, but it's not to minimalize it. I think it's a good process because if I'm honest, for me, it was all related back to being honest with myself.
[30:14] If I wanted, wasn't honest with my fears or with how I was feeling along the way, then I would have no roadmap into how to get to the next day or to how to reach my next goal. And so for me, that was really important and. This also goes to having a good support system, because I had incredible people around me who like my mother, who I was able to tell her that I had wished the accident would've killed me.
[30:37] And that's incredibly difficult for someone who loves you that much to hear their daughter say that. Yeah. And you know, she heard it. and she understood that. That's what I was feeling. Then she understood some fears that I said, I don't know if I'll be able to, you know, walk normally again, I don't know, had all of these fears and having someone like that in your support system, hear your fears.
[31:02] I think it actually helped my mom heal as well in a day to, to me. And it allowed me to work past those and around them, instead of letting those things hold me back.
[31:15] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: So you also believe Hillary, that everything happens for a reason. And during your recovery, you found a way to justify, even as horrible as this accident was, what was the reason?
[31:26] Can you share that? The, the why, why you felt like there might have been a reason even behind this? Yeah.
[31:31] Hillary Allen: So it's not meant to be confused with them. Like, you know, People can interpret this differently if they believe in something that's predestined, right. For me, it came more from this idea that things happen for a reason.
[31:46] If you are curious enough to find out what that reason is, And me coming from my scientists background, I'm always asking why. And I was searching for this reason why this thing happened to me. Did I do something wrong during the race? Like, was it my fault? How, so these, this searching for this reason was trying to.
[32:06] prevent it from happening again in the future. But really the reasons that I found out were later and, you know, if something bad happens, you might not figure out a silver lining or a quote unquote reason that something happened until you kind of go through the muck. And then you kind of hindsight, you know, 20, 20 mm-hmm
[32:23] And for me, some of these reasons. I think for me, it was, I figured out that strength is not what I thought it was and that I'm incredibly stronger than I thought was even possible. I'm speaking more to mental strength than physical strength, because I think athletes, that's always a default to go on the physical strength and I got to fall in love with running again, got to really find out my why.
[32:50] And that is, I think one of the biggest benefits from all of this. All of this, that happened to me. And, as a scientist, it really just, you know, re re solidified my love of science. And, the third love of thermodynamics were entropy is increasing everywhere. So
[33:10] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: sure. So you had an incredible recovery.
[33:13] Your story is fascinating from, from start to finish. You sound like just a success story. Like everything. That Hillary does is successful. Right. You talked a little bit about failure in terms of, you know, you stopped fearing failure, but have there been failures along your career? I mean, your career skyrocketed, were there failures either, either in your career or, or during your, your journey back that you can share with the audience to pull back the curtain a little bit?
[33:44] Hillary Allen: Yeah. I mean, I like to think about it as perspective, right? So from someone, an outside perspective, you have this wide scope and you can see this linear projection, this linear trajectory, and this kind of like catapult, right. But if you take a magnifying glass and you zoom in a little bit, you see all of the lines, that kind of things are going up and down.
[34:03] It's a straight trajectory. And that was, I think, one of the hardest moments and realities that I faced in recovery, that it, it wasn't linear. Certainly from the time that I fell off the cliff to my first race and then races back. But I've had numerous injuries since then. I've had many setbacks mentally and physically times where I doubted if I was even.
[34:26] If I should keep pushing, if I should try to recover from this again, even in two early 20, 21. When I know I had finally written this book and I was ready to share it with the world and I was planning to do this big run, to celebrate it, I broke my foot and I had to have surgery. And so I was, you know, promoting the launch of my book from my couch, with my foot elevated above my head, because I couldn't walk for five weeks.
[34:57] And it was at this moment where I remember telling my best friend and my mom that I don't think I can do this again. I don't think I can go through another recovery and then fast forward to right, like putting in the work and again, having every excuse out there to stop believing in myself, I didn't.
[35:15] And, you know, in late 20, 21 in November, when I was able to step on a start line and win the biggest race of my career. So all I say is that it's a matter of perspective. And if you put in the magnifying glass and things, aren't linear, that's really how it's supposed to be. You can't get from a failure to the success story with out kind of hitting rock bottom multiple times.
[35:38] That's certainly been my journey thus far.
[35:41] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: I love that concept. I mean, it really puts it graphically and you can understand the metaphor of. The stock market, right. It's gone up and up and up forever, but that doesn't mean there haven't been depressions and recessions in that. That is just part of the journey.
[35:53] So Hillary, there's so much strength in your vulnerability. I appreciate you. You sharing all of this for the listener who is sitting there saying, okay, Hillary, I get it. That makes sense to me. I'm dealing with my own challenge. What action item could you recommend something that they could do maybe in the next 24 to 48 hours?
[36:11] And maybe you've already shared it. Maybe it's, maybe it's a mantra or something like that or journaling, but what, what can they do to help them get through the adversity that they're facing, whatever that looks like in their lives?
[36:23] Hillary Allen: Yeah, that's a great question. I think, you know, it's, it's twofold admitting to yourself that you're struggling because I think that's step one and you know, whether that's writing it down.
[36:34] But then not letting that set you back from where you want to go. And so I think it's acceptance and then figuring out a game plan, either a mini goal. For me, it was mini goals of even getting through an hour or getting through a day and celebrating those little victories and knowing that over time.
[36:56] Those little mini victories will lead to bigger successes. Yeah, that's what I would suggest.
[37:03] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Excellent. And for the listener, you can get this and everything else that Hillary shared in the action plan, go to jimharshawjr.com/action. Hillary, where can people go to find you follow you on social media, buy your book, et cetera.
[37:18] Hillary Allen: Yeah, so a few things, the one stop place would be my website, Hillary allen.com. but another good place to follow me is Instagram hill goat climbs. I'm on Twitter too. That's the same name, but yeah, all the, all the resources you need are on my website, Hillary allen.com.
[37:36] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Excellent. Hillary, thank you so much for making time to come on the
[37:38] Hillary Allen: show.
[37:38] Thanks. It's been such a pleasure. Thanks for having me.
[37:42] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Thanks for listening. If you want to apply these principles into your life, let's talk. You can see the limited spaces that are open on my [email protected] slash apply where you can sign up for a free one time coaching call directly with me.
[37:57] And don't forget to grab your action plan. Just go to jimharshawjr.com/action. And lastly, iTunes tends to suggest podcasts with more ratings and reviews more often. You would totally make my day. If you give me a rating and review those go a long way in helping me grow the podcast audience, just open up your podcast app.
[38:18] If you have an iPhone, do a search for success through failure, select it, and then scroll the whole way to the bottom where you can leave the podcast, a rating and a review. Now I hope this isn't just another podcast episode for you. I hope you take action on what you learned here today. Good luck. And thanks for listening.
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