Climbing with the Mind

I was up and at ’em at 5:30 AM yesterday, so I decided to go on the group run for an 8-miler.  For whatever reason, I could only hold a ~9 min/mile pace and my heart rate was up at 170 bpm.  I couldn’t understand it, and had to drop off of the group for the last 2 miles to get my heart rate back down (I try to keep it at 155-165 during runs where possible).  So I was a little disappointed at that performance, but let it slide.

Next, after an afternoon of the Farmer’s Market and other errands, I promised David we’d go rock climbing.  When we got there, I wanted to start off on a pretty hard 5.8 that I’d just barely done the last time we were at the gym (last time David really pulled on the rope to help me past the first part).  I got pretty frustrated when I did not get past my challenging spot on the climb.  I had to come down.  I attempted again and could not get it.  David was reassuring me that my technique was improving, but I was already mad at myself at that point.  We did some other climbs and they were harder than usual, and finally ended trying a 5.9-.  I kept trying and falling, and was loosing control and technique at that point (and getting very stubborn I’m told).  I ended up falling and bumping my chin on another grip.  It wasn’t that bad (just a bruise), but could have been much worse if it was my nose that got hit!   I left upset and blamed it on a bad day.  Later, I realize I was feeling very much like when I got frustrated as a kid for not immediately being perfect at something.   There were two things that were working against me while climbing yesterday:

1 – My body was tired from travel (I should have realized that earlier at the 8-mile run)

2 – Rock climbing is a mentally challenging sport.  As David pointed out, this works for me in running or cycling, because when I get upset I can just try harder and put more effort in.  In rock climbing, I try harder and tend to loose mental focus and technique.

After realizing point #2, I did some internet research.  I like how this website sums it up:

1 – Develop self-confidence to enhance mental control. Last night I was feeling bad about my climbing because I’ve seen David move from 5.10’s to a couple 5.11’s, and I’m still on 5.8’s.  I was getting down on myself, but have to remember that my technique is what’s improving each time, and that’s what will help me get to the next level.  (Plus some strength training!)

2 – Mental control using imagery and positive thinking.  The time I was at the gym before this I had a great workout.  I was mentally on and killing each climb.  Also last time, I was inspired by Ashely from the Edible Perspective’s post (which I can’t find anymore) showing how she got past a challenge at her rock climbing gym.  It was really encouraging to see another girl my age doing so well at climbing!  I did notice she had a lot of upper body strength and thought of how I need to work on that.

3 – Mental control over doubt and negative thoughts.  This is the bottom line.  I need to think about this each time I climb.  And this is one of the reasons I like climbing so much.

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