“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
― Lao Tzu
― Lao Tzu
The scary thing is you do all this work and you fail. Is it better to try and fail or not to try at all? We all know the logical answer to that question, so why ask it? Sometimes your brain play’s mind games with you, sometimes it put’s you off kilt and on tracks which you never anticipated going down.
This is a tough blog to write, I’ve been struggling to put this month into words as it’s been a mixed bag of emotions…
The story of August …
For those who have followed the blog you’ll know I put together a training plan to take me right trough until the bouldering season and I was so psyched about putting it all together and seeing the results. I’ve swapped some sessions to play on the woody board, now named “The Crimp Shrine” which we are fortunate to have in the garage. This has been good as it’s all about power and strength and it’s not a forgiving board, but it is so much fun.
I’ve also been trying to do a lot more finger boarding, something which I haven’t been able to do due to constant finger injuries. I’ve always considered my finger strength to be my main strength, give me something to crimp on, no matter how small and I will make it work.
So it was time to try the one arm hangs….
I’ve said before that this is, by far, the hardest thing in my training, it literally drops me! So much so that I can’t do more than one session in 7 / 9 days and my fingers are totally gone during this time. So I’ve been super disappointed that I haven’t been able to push this part of the training more, I’ve probably only done 4-6 sessions of this since I started, which means that doubt has crept in as to whether I will be ready to do what I want to do this season.
I thought a great test would be to get on this stunning line:
We had the perfect opportunity when we went to visit a friend in the Peak and the wind was blowing! I’ve tried bit’s of this before but was always unable to link the middle to end part. For those who have tried it, I know the holds might look big, but with poor feet it’s basically a sideways campus on your fingers… no better test of finger strength, core and lock off strength.
I had an awesome couple of hours on it, linking most of it, figuring out my beta and working it until I couldn’t anymore. It’s a physical beast! It felt amazing to walk away knowing I had improved significantly from the last session. So why was there something in the back of my mind which was telling me I could have done more? So it begins…
My climbing partner’s weakness was always his finger strength, if there was a dirty crimp, or a slot (he’s got large hands) he was more than 9 times out of 10 unable to touch it. So Jerry’s Trav, for him, was his “will never do” problem, so he was a bit reluctant to go. I knew from the first time he stepped on it that day, he was going to do it. He walked across it, didn’t look like an issue, and then he kept throwing laps on it. Whilst I was so happy he had done something he never thought he would do, I knew that the training he had done on his fingers was paying off – so the thought that I knew I was having issues with my fingers hung heavy on my heart and mind. It just kept building…
Then it was on to North Wales for the Bank Holiday weekend, which has been planned, against all the planning rules we have, way in advance…the plan was to get the parents to look after the dogs and head to The Sheep Pen. I couldn’t have been more excited. On any normal weekend, if we had seen the planned forecast, we wouldn’t have gone, but I wasn’t planning on giving up a weekend up at the Pen without the dogs, I’d never been before.
Well… this video shows the story of Bank Holiday Weekend in North Wales:
Even watching that video, makes me emotional. As you can tell the weather was less than ideal, but I expected that. What I didn’t expect was for my fingers to totally die on me. After Pill Box Wall I felt like I had done a route and had got so pumped that I couldn’t feel my forearms. This feeling continued for many days after. Which made the Sheep Pen a mental challenge, one which, and I don’t normally say this, I failed at.
It wasn’t the weather, it wasn’t that I didn’t get much done, it was the fact my forearms felt like lead and I couldn’t even give the other problems a good go. For the first time ever, I wanted to leave and forget the whole thing. Normally I’m quite positive and just being out is a blessing. Something had changed and not for the better.
I spent the whole journey back silent, not lost in my own thoughts but totally numb. I crashed and burned…
On the Monday I had planned to get up and finger board and then do a session down the wall. Numbness turned to anger. I wasn’t going to train angry, so I spent the time trying to figure out what the heck had gone wrong.
Stress. I believe I had totally lost all sense of reality, why I climb and who I was and was totally stressed. I should have guessed as I’d not been sleeping well, was agitated, snappy and many of the other thing associated with this silent killer.
The answer…let it all go. Forget about the training and forget about the season. So I’ve changed my plan and decided to climb more, whether it be at the wall or outside. Just climb, bring back the fun, go try things, but the main thing I learnt from that weekend is about warming up. I used to be able to jump on anything to warm up, not any more. So I’ve decided to mix climbing with yoga. I’ve dabbled with yoga before but never felt the need for it. With the stress and frustration I’ve felt this last month, I’ve had the calling and yoga totally focuses my mind and chills me out – that is a blessing. So I’m doing one day of climbing and one day of some yoga to help me stay grounded. What ever will be will be. It’s not that I’ve given up – I just need to go back to who I am and it’s not all about the training, it’s about having fun and trying things, getting out of my comfort zone.
I guess The Arch Article – Finding Fun & breaking Plateaus by Taking it easy has put into words what I couldn’t, it’s worth a read.
Apologies if this blog is poor read, I’ve written it a million times and tried to be more positive, however this month has just been one of those times I’ve lost my natural flow – time to regroup.
On the plus side – the weather is cooling down and I am very much looking forward to getting back outside, it’s been somewhat lacking this year!
Happy Climbing <- Ironic!