Do Not Look Up!

Kelley Heye Charging StairsI’m gonna be honest. It makes me sad when people tell me they won’t go on a certain run/ride or enter an event because it’s too “hilly.” I hear way too often, “I hate hills!” I can’t begin to explain what goes on in my head when I hear those words. So, before my brain boils, I often launch into the following psychology of The Hill. If you’re a hill hater, perhaps this will help.

First – Make friends with the hill! Remember, most of the population will be panicking when they reach a hill and move way too fast, eventually stopping in their tracks. Use this knowledge to your advantage, find your personal rhythm, calmly keep moving and watch to see how many “haters” you pass on the way up. (That’s my favorite part!)

Second – When the elevation starts to go up, shut everything out of your head, listen to your calm slow breath like it’s music and “focus” on that. If you start gasping then slow the hell down and get your focus and breath back.

Third – Do not look up. Look straight ahead just up the road, but do not look up the hill! If you look up and see how far you have to go you’ll freak yourself out, panic and lose your focus. The climb is almost always easier than you think it will be.

Fourth – Break the task down into small, easy to digest chunks. Think to yourself, “Let me just get to the first switch-back,” once there, get yourself to the big tree or some other small goal and keep it going, all the way to the top.

Lastly – Never anticipate the top. Trust that it’s there and keep going until you find it. Remember, once you’re over the top you get to go down!

And there you have it. Kelley’s hard earned words of climbing mind games and wisdom. Use it wisely and for heaven sake… go climb some hills!

Christine @ Love, Life, Surf

June 17, 2013 at 7:03 pm

Ha! I had this thought today – I was looking at a race and my first thought was, “I don’t want to enter it because it’s too hilly!” And I had a similar thought on my run this morning when I encountered a hill and I could just feel it beating me down. But these tips are so great for breaking down the hill into manageable pieces. It is all about mind games! 🙂


June 17, 2013 at 8:14 pm

Christine @ love,Life,Surf – Go get those hills! Remember, the view is always greater though sweat covered eyes. And the view from the top is THE BEST! Don’t think…. Just go… (would love for you to send a post hill climbing report to

Mary Parsons

June 18, 2013 at 3:18 am

It all about the journey….


June 18, 2013 at 8:33 am

I love your advice. I usually give the opposite advice for skiing/snowboarding. Don’t look down! Look side to side. When you’re good, you’ll go straight down. When you’re learning, you’re making big S’s, from side to side, so that’s where you need to head. It helps.

Jannine Myers

June 28, 2013 at 4:57 am

This was just what I needed Kelley – great article. Hope you don’t mind, but I shared your tips with the women in a trail running group I belong to:

Thanks so much!


January 15, 2015 at 2:50 pm

Love your enthusiastic tips! Will put them to work!!

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