Is there a headology of walking up hills?

Brief psychology diversion, thinking out loud (via the keyboard) if you like! …but I think “downhills” leading to “uphills” is something I’m really going to have to work on in my head, especially if I’m going to get to those summits I find myself hankering after!  If nothing else because I don’t want to be in a position where I start dreading going downhill, because I’ll be worrying about the inevitable uphill even more.  I’m not sure what I’m aiming for in being more confident at walking up long and/or steep hills, and maybe if I could tell myself how a respectable ascent is measured, or even what a respectable ascent is, I could try to come up with a way of feeling like I’m making progress.  I know that I am making progress, when I look back at how I have struggled on far easier walks than I’m currently attempting.  But I still do feel bad for making the husband make countless stops to wait with me while I catch my breath, rest my legs or simply work myself up to getting moving again, when he would much rather just get his head down, get in to his rhythm and get to the top.

There’s a small rise that I encounter on my weekday road walks…its not steep nor is it a long pull, but frequently it does feel like hard work and it nearly always sets the ‘max heart rate’ alarm off on my Heart Rate Monitor…but the last couple of days, when going over it, I’ve distracted myself by reciting random stuff in my head, and then I’ve suddenly found myself going down the other side without noticing that I’d reached the top.  Not breathing hard, and the  HRM barely getting excited about anything.  Does this perhaps in someway demonstrate that the ‘hard work’ of walking uphill and some of the perceived effort of doing so is partly in my head??

Either way, it felt good and was a minor victory, even if just in my head.
Now if I could just find something long enough to memorize, recite and distract myself with I could make it up Carrauntoohil yet!

Carrantuohill (center) looking south along the...


One thought on “Is there a headology of walking up hills?

  1. Hi, I’d say there probably are various ‘headologies’ for walking up hills.

    Firstly, if you’re having to stop a lot, try walking slower. My friend and I both used to go up hills far too fast for our fitness and stop all the time. Now we’ve turned ourselves into ‘plodders’. People often set out with us and think we walk too slow but, by the end of the day, they check their watches and find we haven’t been any longer than they would have been – we just haven’t had to stop and rest. I also find I don’t have to carry as much food that way or even drink as much as it’s kind of like a ‘slow burn’ instead of suddenly using up all your blood sugar and having to constantly refuel.

    The recognised technique for uphill walking is to take small, powerful steps using the back of your calves as much as you can rather than trying to use your normal stride. The steeper the hill, the more you should use this technique.

    I find it very important to always have a strong objective (which it sounds like you usually have anyway). Without that ambition to reach that objective, I’d be far too lazy to walk up hills at all! It’s always a struggle walking up a hill in my opinion – doesn’t matter how fit I am. I find that for both hill-walking and cycling – the fitter I am, the faster I go – but I never feel any better doing the strenuous bits.

    Daydreaming or thinking of something else is definitely a great strategy for going up hills without noticing too much. My brother and I didn’t always like the very long, multi-valley (crossing mountains in between) walks we used to be dragged along on by our parents. My brother probably used to moan – I used to just go off into a dreamworld until the walk finished!

    Great question for a post anyway – I’m surprised you haven’t had more comments or discussion. I could ‘reblog’ this post on my blog for you if you think that would get people talking about it? I’m never sure what people think to ‘reblogging’ so just let me know if you think that it’s a good idea and if you don’t mind it.

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