Monday, 7 January 2013
I spent the final couple of hours of 2012 fixing my boiler and packing to go outdoor rock climbing for the first time since my accident. I was so excited about this I failed to sleep all night and had a bleary eyed drive across the highlands on empty roads first thing on new year’s day. I spent a bit of time working on an 8c sport project I’d wanted to try since before the accident and made some nice progress for my first session on it. I linked all the bits that were dry on my first go and got all the moves done despite some wet holds.
On another session it was too wet to even bother getting on it so I did a couple of 7c+s that were really quite wet. I wasn’t scared of falling off at all, but with wet hands I was more anxious about my hands or feet slipping suddenly and loading the ankle. I absolutely loved doing the whole routine of being able to try hard on a rock climb, being outside feeling the cold air and dealing with ropes and and real rock again. It definitely put a spring in my step.
On the other hand, I’ve still got the weird feeling of making rapid progress versus feeling very weak in certain muscles and positions at the same time. As I (hopefully) progress with this return to climbing harder on my second apprenticeship, I’ll try and share with you the lessons I’m re-learning, or indeed learning for the first time. Here is the first:
Apprenticeship 2.0, lesson 1.0
Trying hard underlies all improvement. And underlying trying hard is loving what you do. On my first day out, I was really struck by how much I missed outdoor climbing, and just how much I loved doing it even though it was about 2 degrees with a freezing wind and seeping wet routes. All I could think about was how lucky I was to be back at it.
On the second day, I was totally whacked. I fell on my ass coming down the stairs from bed in the morning. Driving to the crag I just wanted to stop and sleep. The feeling hung around all day when I was belaying or resting between climbs. It would have been so easy to sack it off, not least because the routes were soaking. Having been deprived of climbing for so long, I was able to easily push this straight out of my mind and the feeling in my body disappeared the minute I had my rockshoes on and started to battle up the routes. I was really aware that volume (of moves climbed) is going to be critical as a foundation of my apprenticeship. Thus, a wet day was a fine opportunity to climb lots of volume at an easier intensity instead of battling on the same moves on the 8c. By the end of the day I could definitely feel my movement was getting better, and I’d had a much needed workout.
Sometimes loving what you do just comes completely naturally. Sometimes you definitely need to think carefully about it to override temporary fatigue that tries to convince you you’d rather just head home for a cup of tea.