I love to bike. Give me a long, flat trail and I could ride for days. Hills are another story. Unfortunately, where I live here in Connecticut, I can’t ride very far without encountering one.
Here are some tricks I use that can be applied to make any obstacle you face on the road or in life more enjoyable:
Think positive. I’ve noticed that my mindset about the upcoming hill has a big impact on my experience of it. Sometimes I dread the hills so much that I don’t even want to get on the bike! When I notice negative thoughts creeping into my mind, I try to countering them with more productive ones such as “I’ve managed similar routes before,” or “I can take it slow if I need to.”
Take it one step at a time. Rather than looking ahead fearfully at the daunting peak ahead, I try to focus on what I am doing in the present moment, knowing that each mindful pedal stroke will bring me closer to my goal.
Look for the breaks in the incline. One thing I’ve learned about hills is that they usually have breaks. You can’t always see them from the bottom but, during the climb, there are usually moments when the ascent is less steep and the peddling gets easier, even if it’s just for a moment. Savoring these brief moments of respite can really help me get to the top.
Rest when needed. Sometimes the breaks are not enough. Sometimes my lungs are burning and my legs are screaming and I need a rest. A well-placed rest helps me to regroup, re-energize and feel much stronger when I get back on the bike.
Be prepared. Sometimes a big hill will surprise me out of the blue but, most of time, I have some control over my course. Training on little hills first helps my legs to get strong enough to tackle the big ones later.
Enjoy the accomplishment. When I get to the top of the hill I make sure to celebrate. Life is short, and I want to make sure to fully enjoy my successes. I can also use some of that good feeling to carry me over my next big challenge—whatever it might be!