22 August 2013

Year out

I’ve seen a load of climbers go through the same process. They have a good spell in their climbing and training. Goals are achieved, fingers get stronger, new horizons open up. But what does progress in your sport lead to? The desire to keep progressing yet more. And the higher you get, the more work it takes.

Sooner or later, those with demanding schedules of a western lifestyle bump up against time limitations. Train before work? Too tired. Train after work, too tired, too busy. Weekends? They get filled with things. All good things of course, but they get in the way. 

At this point, the idea of a career break appears. A three month road trip. Or even a full year to climb full time. In some cases it might even work. But there are some problems and this is why as a coach I’d recommend it as a last rather than first resort.

First, what happens when you go on the first trip of the sabbatical and injure your finger and need three months off? A sudden increase in training is always the most risky time for injury. It happens, and it’s a bummer when it does. But that’s a minor concern. The bigger issue is how you are going to feel at the end of the journey? 12 months will fly by. If you make the progress you want to make, you might well just end up wanting to keep going even more than you do now. For many, going back to the old way of life just isn’t an option. So they find a new way of life. Thus, the sabbatical has been a much bigger success than just doing your first 8a.

My point here is that for the effort of arranging or saving for a year out of work, it might be less effort overall to find a permanent solution; a new career, or at least an altered one. Whatever - the world is your oyster. I just want to say that taking a short term break is not the only way.

Proper full time climbing might not even be possible unless your body is really ready for it. There is time left over. For most folk, only working for a portion of the year, either in one block or in intermittent blocks (what I do) is much better and is all that is needed to continue the upward progress of climbing achievement.

If you are prepared to walk out on a perfectly good job for the sake of climbing, why not negotiate a better schedule as your first resort. If you’re thinking of leaving anyway, what have you got to lose? Naturally it will be an easier sell if you offer the solutions on a plate or point to an example of when it has worked in the short term before. Since jobs come in infinite shapes an sizes, there is no universal solution. It’s up to you to use your imagination, and then just about every other skill under the sun to make it actually happen.

In the end it might be better than a year of fun with the clock constantly counting down. Whatever you choose, DO IT! Don’t leave it as a dream on the table.

Video: Training during recovery from injury

What’s your excuse?

PS. This programme might well not be the best for everyone. But the level of commitment definitely is.