An Climbing Attitude Adjustment and a Little Introspection

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Warming up at PRG Oaks. (Denis Brenan)
Yesterday was a mostly typical Sunday. Typical Sundays either involve rounding out a weekend-long trip or what today involved - sleeping and climbing.

The plan was to spend the day toproping at Go Vertical. but as soon as I walked into the gym, I remembered a suggestion from (seriously badass climber girl) Alison via text two days prior. It was something like, "Get on the new V2 I set. It's on the inside of the pants."

The pants refers to one of the walls in the gym, and I knew exactly where Alison meant. She's teaching a women's bouldering clinic soon and set a handful of easier routes to teach on. This climb was certainly tailored to Alison's climbing style - deliberate, delicate and powerful.

I pulled on my harness and walked over to the boulder wall to warm up, intending to try a few things and move on to the ropes. But the day became bouldering-focused after a few tries on Alison's problem.

The problem, called "Stretch it Out," is a sit start. I hate sit starts. There's something inherently humiliating about pulling yourself three inches off the ground, reaching, the falling those three inches back to Earth and landing square on your bum. Anyway, the start hold is a big, round, hollow formation with plenty of room for both hands. There's a chip for the right foot and the left foot needs to be placed just so on the blank wall. Keeping body tension, you pull, push and lift, reaching for a good pinch with your right hand.

It took me at least five tries to get the start. I did the entire problem without the start on the first try, no big deal. But I had to do the whole thing from the beginning, and there's something about landing right on my butt five times in a row I couldn't handle. I walked away, took the harness off, came back, sat down and sent it. "I should have flashed that," I thought.

At PRG Oaks on a day where everything felt right! (Denis Brenan)
Things just felt off yesterday. Walking up to boulder problems and figuring them out was a struggle. I didn't feel strong. My mind and body weren't communicating. It was as if my last day at the gym was a month ago, not four days ago. After going through a few more "I should have flashed that" moments, my attitude was a mess. I walked to the center of the gym, sat down next to my backpack and took a 10 minute breather. My 'tude  needed adjusting, and I had to figure out how to stop taking the day's frustrations to heart.

There were at least ten familiar faces at the gym on Sunday, and I noticed two other ladies I knew bouldering up random routes around the gym. One of the best things about living in the same place for a while and climbing at the same gym is, if you make an effort, you can make friends with just about everyone who climbs there regularly. Though I certainly don't know everyone, I love walking in the gym doors to a familiar faces.

My two friends were climbing until exhaustion after a few hours of leading that morning and I joined in. The exercise was to boulder up to the first clip of all of the harder lead routes and to top-out height on some of the harder toprope climbs. You only rested for as long as it took the other two to climb. Their enthusiasm was infectious. Before long, I was laughing, smiling, and taking things a lot less seriously. I was also fingertip burning forearm pumping exhausted.

My relationship with and attitude toward climbing ebbs and flows. Being passionate about something means understanding that some days are going to be disappointing and frustrating, though hopefully less numerous than the exciting, ground-breaking days. Recognizing that I needed to take myself out of my typical routine made all the difference, and luckily, I had friends to help me whether they knew it or not.

Any of this sound familiar? Do you struggle with bad days once in a while in your sport? I'd love your tips on how to deal!

8 comments :

Gif said...

Great post here, Katie. I've had this happen to me too. Camaraderie is really important. It's amazing how powerful a "c'mon!" is from a friend when you're almost at the top of a problem. Sometimes, problem solving by yourself isn't too much fun.

When alone, I'll more often do anaerobic endurance work like 4x4's or something. You don't need to problem solve or think too much...just endure the pain.

Katie said...

Agreed, Gif! I think what I like most about bouldering is how social it is. You're not usually just climbing with a partner, it's with a group. I love having so many strong ladies to turn to when I need a little kick in the pants!

I like the idea of doing an endurance workout when I'm alone. But forgive my ignorance, what's a 4x4?

Gif said...

A 4x4 is probably the most popular anaerobic endurance workout. Pick 4 problems. Do all 4 consecutively with no rest. (Or pick 2 problems and do them 2x each...for example) Time how long it takes to do all 4. Say 2 minutes. Then take 2 minutes rest. Repeat that 4 times. So its 4 sets of 4 problems. It takes some time to figure out what problems to pick. You want to be able to finish the workout but just barely. You should be pumped out of your brain. When finished, collapse on the floor and breathe! :)

Elizabeth said...

Thanks for sharing this, Katie! I know that feeling well. Extra kudos for figuring out how to turn the 'tude around in time to get some good climb time in. Something I need to work on, for sure.

Gif - thx for the 4x4 tutorial. I'm going to try that next time I'm bouldering!

Jill - Jack and Jill Travel The World said...

Ah, all this talk makes me miss climbing so much. It's only been 2 weeks but it feels longer. We're getting ready to depart on an extended trip and we just quit our gyms so we haven't been to climb :(

We're hoping that tomorrow we get to head out to Yosemite valley to do some climbing though so yay!

Katie said...

Yosemite, yay! Believe it or not, I haven't been there yet. Hope you're able to make it there soon!

Jill - Jack and Jill Travel Th said...

Ah, all this talk makes me miss climbing so much. It's only been 2 weeks but it feels longer. We're getting ready to depart on an extended trip and we just quit our gyms so we haven't been to climb :(

We're hoping that tomorrow we get to head out to Yosemite valley to do some climbing though so yay!

Elizabeth said...

Thanks for sharing this, Katie! I know that feeling well. Extra kudos for figuring out how to turn the 'tude around in time to get some good climb time in. Something I need to work on, for sure.

Gif - thx for the 4x4 tutorial. I'm going to try that next time I'm bouldering!