I’m sure it’s happened to all of us at one point or another.
A bad day of climbing. A rough day of training. Something that kicks you back and gets you down.
Luckily for me, these days have been few and far between over the past few months. I’ve been able to keep my stoke level high on either sport or boulders or both, and as a result, I’ve been able to have solid training and climbing sessions consistently.
Until this week, that is.
The week started off great – I climbed ropes in the gym on Monday with Will, and it was pretty awesome. I haven’t been so tired from sport climbing in a long time – and it wasn’t just my arms and hands. My core was sapped, my legs were jello, everything was spent. An amazing feeling, for sure. And even though I only sent one difficult climb, I made good progress on others and walked away feeling excellent.
Unfortunately, my next two days were quite poor. I just never felt like I got into a rhythm while bouldering. Even more troubling, I felt like I had regressed and gotten significantly weaker in some areas. I’m not sure why, but I think it’s because my weaknesses were just more apparent during these sessions. I was a little over-confident as well, and when my expectations did not equal my reality, I came crashing back to earth in a hurry (literally and figuratively).
Those two back-to-back days of poor climbing really messed up my whole mindset for the rest of the week. I’ve really been in a funk ever since. Even though I got back in the gym tonight and did some light bouldering, I couldn’t find much motivation, and I wasn’t really feeling very stoked.
What makes this all worse is that I have my first competition of the season tomorrow. No bueno.
But, if there’s one thing that I’ve learned since starting to climb, it’s that things happen when you least expect them. Additionally, your biggest lows follow your biggest highs – and often the reverse is true as well. These patterns have held true throughout my climbing career, especially as I’ve begun working up into harder grades. Hard sends happen on the last go of the day when there are zero expectations. Project sends are always followed by struggle and a difficulty finding a groove. And after rough patches, something always just clicks, and things start firing again.
It’s so tough to just accept that bad sessions and bad days will happen. It’s even harder to accept that these may come in bunches and last longer than one day.
I broke one of my cardinal rules this week, something that always helps me get over the bad faster: I climbed when I wasn’t stoked. I made myself go to the gym when I just wasn’t motivated to climb. This is always a recipe for disaster, because you just don’t want to be at the gym, you don’t wanna train, and as a result, your climbing suffers. Which makes your mood worse, affecting your stoke even more, and it becomes a vicious cycle.
I’ve definitely found that training and climbing only when you’re stoked and motivated is a good rule to follow. You may think “well, then there’s a chance I don’t climb for a week or more!”, to which I respond, if your stoke is so down that you don’t wanna climb after a few rest days, then maybe there’s something bigger at play.
And regarding putting days like these behind you, taking a good rest day is always a solid first step. Beyond that, working your way back to harder grades once you’re climbing again has worked wonders for me. Build your base up again – feel strong, feel solid, feel fluid. That will help you refocus and settle in again. Once you’re there, you’ll find a rhythm, and the rest will follow.
It’s all about the process.
I also broke one of my other rules – this one regarding expectations. I’m going to write about this in another post at some point, so I’ll just leave it alone here for now.
I apologize for this being a little rambling, but I’m curious to hear how you get over a bad day or a rough training session. How do you put it behind you? How do you avoid it? Let me know in the comments or with a message.
Thanks for reading – I’m off to bed to rest up for the comp tomorrow. Stoked or not to climb, I’m super excited just to spend time with friends and hang out in the community. Hopefully that’s enough to motivate me to crush!
Keep your stoke up and your hands chalky my friends!