13 February 2011
Climbers who are into training or pushing themselves are often trying to keep everything ‘clean’. Clean in this sense means without complication - black and white, yes or no, all or nothing.
This is good, but it can backfire. It backfires because real life performance in sport (of life etc) is messy, always. Well, OK not always. If you’re a bit older, you’ll look back on a handful of moments, maybe only one, where everything was clean for a fleeting few minutes on a climb. Sometimes that’ll be during a lifetime best performance for you, but not always. Sometimes it happens on an easier climb that just went like a dream.
So the problem is that in all your mental effort and training, you’re pushing to make everything cleaner. Clean training schedule with no interruptions from work, weather or injury. Clean technique with no sloppy footwork, grunting or wobbling. Clean preparation with a good nights sleep, rested muscles, good food and good vibes before you want to climb something hard. It never happens does it? Well apart from those one or two times in your life when it does.
Obviously we can’t go around hoping for one of those once in a lifetime moments to happen right now. We need to find a way to climb well and be comfortable with our performance on a daily basis. It’s fine to try and keep everything clean and optimal. It’s the eternal game of the athlete. But accept that no matter how much you try, you dealing with something that is inherently messy (life) and you will never win.
Climbers that do try to beat the messiness of life and sporting performance get backed into a corner. Narrowing your field of skills to keep greater control over them. Training fewer performance components so you don’t have to face losses of previous gains. Competing in smaller and smaller arenas, like one angle, board, discipline etc. In the short term it might even work and feel comforting. In the longer term, it is almost guaranteed to fail to make you a good climber and leaves you wide open to taking big hits to morale and motivation. Most of the keen climbers I’ve seen give up completely have done so for this reason.
Keep your climbing, your training, your mental preparation, your schedule as clean as life allows. But be ready to keep going when everything is a complete bloody mess.