Pumping the Brakes

I finally took my foot off the gas pedal.

After having been to Earth Treks for 21 straight days since returning from Arizona, I stayed home last night. Tonight is my third rest day in a row, my first stretch of more than one day off since the New Year.

When I got back from vacation, I was so stoked. On everything. To climb. To train. To work at the gym. To see people. To hang out with coworkers. To record and edit my video. To work on and submit sponsorship applications. To be a climber again.

Now that I’ve taken a few rest days and finally gotten a day away from the gym, I realize that I’m tired. Really tired. Exhausted, really. I was firing on all cylinders for a fairly long time. The longest I had in a while. At the time, it was great – I felt fantastic, I was focused, I was motivated.

Looking back now, though, I realize that I was so short-sighted. Not only am I tired, but my body has taken a beating. I bouldered far more than usual during that stretch, and it shows – tweaked ankle, tweaked knee, tweaked fingers, tweaked wrists, tweaked elbows, tweaked shoulders. I know everything will heal up quickly, but it’s frustrating to have so much hurting all at once.

Once I took Tuesday and Wednesday off, it felt like I crashed hard. Motivation, focus, psyche, stoke, whatever – it all just disappeared. I haven’t felt so drained in a long time, and I’m not a fan of the feeling.

But I know, like all things, it will pass. I’m already feeling motivated to get back climbing again (especially on ropes, which is probably for the best anyways). I’m planning to climb tomorrow, just to get stretched out and move and flow. Easy routes. I always feel better on routes.

It’s so easy for me to just get going and not stop to take a breath. When I start climbing strongly and feeling good, I have a hard time taking a step back and killing a rest day. It’s a lesson I’ve struggled to learn since I started, but it’s one I must learn moving forward if I want to keep climbing at a high level for a long time.

I’m aiming to be more conscious about my rest and climbing patterns in 2013. I’m going to listen more closely to my body. I’m just going to be smarter. At least I’m planning to be!

To all of you fellow climbers out there: how do you deal? Do you struggle with taking rest days? What do you do to better listen to your body and monitor your climbing/resting patterns? I’d love to hear from you – leave a comment, post on facebook, tweet on twitter, you know the drill!

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2 responses to “Pumping the Brakes

  1. Definitely a question all climbers face, at least those who for whom climbing is a long term path. It’s easy to get caught up in the momentum of progress or worry that resting will cause you to lose ground, which is ironic since the inability to rest is almost guaranteed to kill that momentum at some point. At some point though, it becomes a choice of resting for a few days or weeks now, or for a few months later because we pushed too hard. As I experience more of these cycles, it almost seems like one of the biggest factors in climbing harder is simply not getting injured… making slow but continuous upward progress rather than quick gains coupled with the inevitable losses. From a purely strength perspective both approaches might even out, but with improvement of technique in mind the slow and gradual approach comes out ahead, as it means more consistent time spent focusing on movement. Embrace the rest days as opportunities to do all those other things you never seem to have time for, knowing you’ll come back even stronger for having taken them. One of the best gifts we can give ourself is the permission to “do nothing” because it’s the nothing that recharges us for the something.

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