I think everyone I knew on the Trail had different techniques for making it up long ascents, or maximizing mileage. Here are three that worked for me:
(1) "Walk 100 and Pause". When I started a hill at the gap before an ascent, and I wasn't yet in real great condition, I'd count paces (2 steps) until I got to 100 and then take a "catch my breath" stop. Then I'd start again. If it got too hard to make it to 100, I'd shift to 50. That cut the hills down to size. Slow, but it worked.
(2) Chanting in my mind. I have a couple of chants/songs that go on long enough to keep me moving, but short enough to let me take a break. "The Ants Are Coming" (the old nursery school song) is one; I'd run through the 10 verses by chanting/thinking them, and then stop. Once I got better, I'd say to myself, "I think I can do TWO (THREE/FOUR whatever) "Ants", and I'd try to do that. It was a good way of keeping me going on endless ascents.
(3) Real Music. After centuries of opposition to music while backpacking, I finally gave in last year and got a Sony MD player. Others have used radios or CD players. I've found that my own mixes keep me going longer, and vastly faster: I am SLOW by nature, at 1.6 miles per hour up, down or level. With my combination of The Boss, Mary Chapin Carpenter and The Blues Brothers (among others), this old body has been clocked doing 2.9 mph over an entire day, which is, frankly, amazing. I just read in Outdoor that a study showed cyclists increased their mileage by about 20% while listening to Metallica (honest!), which seems to support this.
Anyone else have similar/other tricks that make the miles easier?