Training Isn’t Easy

Just one month ago I returned from climbing on rock in Europe. The past month has been one of those full, busy periods that seems to go by in a flash but when you think back to the beginning it seems like forever ago. So what have I been up to… I started training. I turned 21. And I did my first competition of 2014.

Back in 2012 I broke my leg. This catalyst changed my life. It triggered the beginning of a working relationship with my coach Mark. I started training. Like really training, not just bumbling around a climbing wall doing a few pull ups and drinking tea. But what changed the most was my outlook on climbing, training, competing and life. I always said I didn’t want a coach. I didn’t like being told what to do and more importantly I had been doing everything on my own for years and years the thought of letting someone in was really scary! It took me quite a long time to adjust and accept the level of commitment, effort and dedication I not only had to put in but appreciate also. I think it is only now when on reflection that I can see how hard it was

On the 5th January I started training again. In the past I have struggled a lot with training. I have struggled with new exercises. I have struggled with pushing myself and trying hard. I have struggled with motivation and with dedication. I realised that all of this time spent struggling was time spent learning. And often time spent learning to learn. I had to learn new exercises and how far I could push myself doing them. I had to learn the difference between the aches and pains of training hard and injury. I had to learn how to get up and train on the days that I couldn’t be bothered and didn’t want to. Above all I had to learn to work with Mark, to put all of my trust in him, to listen to him and to speak up when I needed to (but not too often!) and learn to believe in what I was doing!

It takes a long time to figure out how to train and I think it takes a while to figure out how to coach too (especially when your athlete is as awkward as I am). I think a lot of people wish there was a secret that would transform their sessions and make them into the best they can be. But sadly I regret to inform you that it doesn’t exist.

When I started training this year everything finally clicked. When I arrive at the climbing wall, I arrive at work. I complete my sessions. I try hard, push myself and feel rewarded from the satisfaction of knowing and believing (not just thinking) that what I am doing is helping me to get that little bit closer to my ultimate goal. I am more motivated than ever before. I want to train, I want to do that extra set, I even ask to make things harder if I think I’m not trying hard enough. Of course there are days when I don’t want to train, I don’t want to climb, my skin hurts, my muscles ache or/and I am just grumpy. Those are the days when the people around me keep motivated and inspired. On those days finishing training, knowing I have completed or done my very best to complete a session, is even more satisfying on those days.

When I was young I knew exactly what I wanted to do when I grew up. I wanted to compete in climbing competitions. I wanted to be the best in the world. But I never really looked up to climbers. My hero’s were gymnasts, swimmers, athletes. 15 years ago there were not many people climbing inside at all never mind people training and pushing themselves to be the best indoor competition climber. Our sport has evolved and grown significantly in the last couple of decades and my desire to be a professional athlete, to be a professional climber came at the right time. When I was young I was embarrassed to say I wanted to be a professional competition climber and now I am proud to say that I am.

Last weekend I competed at ROC Fest 5.0. A competition at Rock Over Climbing Centre in Manchester. These guys have been upping the standards of their event every year and it’s a great reflection of how much our sport is progressing. It is great to have climbing centres that support the growing desires of climbers who want to compete. Competitions are becoming organised, impressive productions. Congratulations to the Rock Over staff for putting on such an amazing, high standard event.

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3 Responses to “Training Isn’t Easy

  • Very interesting blog, keep up the hard work. You’ve helped inspire me to get back into climbing after a long time away with injury!

    Thanks and good luck

  • Thank you for sharing your insights about training and also sharing how you keep motivated…

  • Your honesty and openness to the way you train is refreshing and inspiring, not only for climbing but any sport.

    Thank you.

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