We all know the value of running hills. We may hate. We may curse them. But we know hills will make you a stronger, fitter, faster runner.

From my house there is no way to avoid hills. Going out or coming back, either way I’m going to have to go uphill at one point. One morning a while back, I was out jogging with Gracie in the stroller and as I was going uphill she said, “Go faster Mommy”. I told her that I couldn’t go any faster uphill, that hills were tough and that once I got to the top then I would run faster.

Since the first time Gracie ever said the words “I can’t” I have told her yes she could; she could do anything. So for me to say I couldn’t run any faster uphill was very contradictory and to instill in her that hills were tough at 18 months old was not something I wanted her to grow up thinking. So right then and there I turned things around and told her that hills make you stronger and that although I have to slow down a little going up them, I can run faster once I get to the top.

It’s been almost a year since I changed my perspective on how I approach hills. I have always known hills make you stronger but to actually acknowledge it out loud every time you approach one makes a HUGE difference. Gracie and I make a game of it now, we chant it together – “hills make you stronger” all the way up; she giggles away and when we get to the top she cheers. When I’m alone I still say it out loud and even run up the short but steep hill by my house at the end of a long run or tempo run just to do it. And the best part of all is to hear Gracie in her sweet 2-1/2 year old voice say “hills make you stronger” all on her own when she sees a hill now, whether we’re running or driving.

Maybe the value of running hills is that they make you a stronger, fitter, faster runner… and it may also just help make you a better parent along the way!

Click here for tips on how to run hill repeats.