Hills v Me…. Who won?

If the truth be known, in the past I’ve really avoided running up hills, as I thought HILLS = PAIN. When I did run up them, I was slower, and in the early stages thought I was going to have a cardiac arrest as I felt my heart pounding more. I heard people say to get fitter and run faster, you must incorporate hills in your training. Hmm…

Fast forward to earlier this year when I made the decision to run the Great Ocean Road 1/2 marathon…. man there are some serious hills there…… with a very steep sudden incline to Cape Patton at 80m, so I knew I was going to be challenged.

GOR Half Course png


From Wk 3 of a 18 week program, I swapped my weekly sprint training for hills and started to incorporate hill repeats on the smallest of slopes to get my body used to the increased load & pressure. It wasn’t until Wk 6 that I started to see improvements in my training threshold and mindset.

I slowly incorporated running steeper hills on my long runs, so that mentally and physically I was starting to prepare for the weeks ahead, with the increased load, mileage and race day.

So this week (3 weeks away from the race) who’s winning the hills or me? I’m happy to say it’s me, and if I can do it, you can too.

So what was the shift I hear you ask, how did you go from “HILLS = PAIN” thinking to  ” I love running hills”. Put simply – baby steps, loving the challenging, acknowledgement, mindset and having fun.

Think about how babies learn to walk.

1. Baby – Lie on their back, kicking their legs, building leg strength and firing up their muscles memories for the months to come. Runner – strength & weight training.

2. Baby – Roll over onto stomach and start to crawl, fall over and repeat. Runner – Find a small hill and run up it. Gradually increase your repeats of this hill over time.

3. Baby – Pull themselves up on a taller object to stand, then fall. Runner – Find a steeper hill to run up, stretch yourself outside your comfort zone. You might only make it up half way up the hill before stopping. The fact is you stretched yourself and you’re moving forward.

4. Baby – Take 1st steps, holding on to something for balance, then fall, repeat. Runner – Run all the way to the top of the steep hill. Repeat over time.

5. Baby – Take steps and balance on their own, then fall and repeat. Runner – Set out a course of several hills. Start with a small number of hills and distance before extending the number of hills and distance.

Along the way babies always get encouragement from their doting parents and onlookers. When they fall, the 1st time, they’re encouraged to get up and start again, they never give up.

I also learnt to give myself the acknowledgement of small wins along the way – whether it was my 1st small hill I ran up, stretching myself to a massive hill and only getting half way up to now running that same steep hill for 3 repeats.

Give yourself the same acknowledgement of taking baby steps forward, building momentum, to achieving your goal. You can do it, I believe in you.

Love to hear how you go in the comments below in breaking your goals down into baby steps, starting small and building momentum.