Be Nice to Yourself

Staying relaxed and having fun on steep Saint George sandstone.

I couldn’t seem to face up to the facts, I was tense and nervous, I couldn’t relax. I needed to chill out and just climb, or I was going to get injured again.

The irony about coming back from an injury is that it feels like you should be careful, approach things a little more tentatively, don’t overdo it. The first two days at City of Rocks, this was how I climbed, but it felt awful. My movement was hesitant, jerky and awkward. I was nervous about getting reinjured, even though I should have had more faith in the rehab I’d done up to that point.

I hadn’t really climbed in two months, but I had done a bunch of strength and core training, and lot of hangoboard rehab. And yet, the rock felt foreign.

“You’ve been climbing for over 20 years, are very physically fit right now, and this is what it feels like? Maybe it’s time to quit.” Poop thoughts, as my friend Lynn likes to call them.

Some time during the last month, I saw a quote from a training coach that said something along the lines of, if you think the hold will injure you, it will injure you. At the time I used this to change my mindset about two finger pockets on the hangboard, which always felt a little dicey to me, even with weight removed. Then I changed my attitude, focused on grabbing the holds properly, and pushed the fear and anxiety from my mind. And it felt better.

Sitting around camp on our rest day, I realized my climbing was suffering from the same problem. I was so worried about reinjuring my finger that I was putting myself in a position where I was probably more likely to get hurt again, with movement that was anything but smooth. When morning came on our next climbing day, I made a resolution with myself.

“You are healthy enough for these climbs, you need to stop climbing like a robot and start climbing like you know how. Relax and let your body move the way it wants and needs to.”

Lo and behold, I started climbing again like I’ve been doing it for over half my life, and what do you know, I felt like a climber again. I was confident, determined, moved smoothly with flow. It felt great, and I learned an important lesson.

Trust the training, trust the rehab. Be gentle on yourself when you’ve had some time off, there will be rust and kinks to work out, no matter what you’ve been doing to stay fit. But rest assured, there’s a climber inside, you might just need to give them some time to come back out into the light.

Locals Corner

Bulldog Creek Dog Walk (IV WI 4+)

Hayden Carpenter and Tom Bohanon recently repeated an obscure ice climb on the south side of Mt Sopris. Given a brief mention in Jack Robert’s ice guide, Bulldog Creek Walk is described as being 100 meters of WI 4. What they found was seven pitches of ice in a remote setting that makes for one […]

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