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A Girl Who Climbs

A blog of bouldering

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Advice & Tips

Knowing When to Rest

Whether it’s taking 10 minutes for some mindfulness and head space to get through the day, making sure to foam roller after training, or enjoying a bath, I’m all about self-care. But what I’m really, really bad at is stopping when I have an injury. We’ve all been there, you ‘kind of’ hurt yourself but carry on anyway because you’re having too much fun. I know I’m not the only one! Between climbing and roller derby I’ve picked up a few niggles which just wouldn’t go away because I didn’t give them the time to heal properly, and this resulted in prolonged pain plus feeling of regression.

 

So how do you know when to stop and/or rest? Deep down you know. Your body knows when it wants you to take a time out, it’s just making sure that you listen. Resting can be hard when you’re doing well with training and don’t want to lose momentum, but sometimes you must make yourself do it. Now I think, would I rather cut my session short/take a week off resting and come back feeling good, or continue and end up in more pain and possibly having to take a whole month or more off?

 

Since you only get one body it makes sense to look after it and strive to climb another day!

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Persistence Pays Off

It’s been a while!

I guess the reason I haven’t posted is because I felt like I was in a climbing limbo. It can be so frustrating being at a stage were problems are either a breeze or way too hard, even more so as this will differ with each gym you climb at. The thing with climbing and bouldering is, there is no flat standard. They are such free sports in the sense that there is no hold, crux, or problem the same. It’s not like another discipline with a basic skill set that you can practice repeatedly. For example, I think it would be tough for everyone to go to their local wall and practice the same heel hook, whereas anyone can grab a football and practice keepie-ups/kick ups. It’s not so straight forward. So, unless you can pinpoint and mimic exactly what you’re struggling with, it’s hard to train it. This isn’t a complaint! In fact, it’s one of the reasons I think bouldering is so compelling as it makes you challenge yourself.

I’ve always said that I’m not a natural climber and it’s something that I’m constantly working on in one way or another. Back in January I broke my (very long) gym sabbatical in hopes of generally improving myself in a kind of blanket training, and I’m happy to report after 3 months it’s starting to pay off. Despite it being a long, hard, slog, going to the gym twice a week has 100% upped my climbing game and helped nudge me through the limbo and even a grade boundary.

 

So, persistence pays off. If you’re struggling please don’t give up, train hard and it will work out in the end.

 

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Improving By Accident

 

Everyone wants to get better and climb harder, and unexpectedly I’ve started to notice small improvements in my climbing. It feels like I’m nailing moves that I have been struggling with for a few months, and this in turn has started to unlock parts of bouldering problems for me which were previously unattainable.  

 

I’m not really one to stick to a training schedule, as much as I wish I could, so these improvements are not from following a well-crafted programme, plus I enjoyed ‘off-season’ to the max over the festive period! All I can put it down to is visiting different bouldering gyms, I think the variety of angles, holds and problems has had a positive impact on my climbing.

 

Maybe try hitting a different climbing gym if you feel like you have hit a plateau. Either way it was a nice surprise to acknowledge, and I think it’s important to recognise the small improvements as these are the steps up to the bigger event, like pushing through a grade boundary.

 

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Climbing Out of a Bad Situation

A few posts back I wrote about how I’ve been having a hard time with climbing, as I’ve not had very good sessions lately and it was starting to get me down. It even made me question if I should take a break. However, I stuck with it and climbed once a week even if I really wasn’t feeling it, and I am so happy I did. I wish I could pinpoint the moment or cause for the sad plateau, but I guess that would make life far too easy. So even though at the time it sucked to not be feeling as strong as I knew I could be, simply persevering with the circumstances appears to have paid off. That and the fact that A Boy Who Climbs was very kind and patient with me, and gave me the much needed push to continue.

 

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Bouldering last night was great and it was so lovely to be back in a good place with it. I enjoyed trying to grip the awful holds, attempting moves I found scary and over all just throwing myself up the walls with gusto. I’m so excited to climb again at the weekend!

 Sometimes turning up for training when you really, really don’t want to is half the battle for any sport. Don’t let yourself feel defeated if you’re having a rough time. If you put in the time then you will feel the rewards in the end despite it feeling like you won’t – promise!

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The Fear | Getting Out Of Your Head

Holding yourself back is the worst because you know you’re doing it, and you also know it’s down to you to stop it. Staying in your comfort zone is something I think we are all familiar with, but it’s an aspect I really need to push out of with my climbing.

 

I recently read this post by Iron Octopus Fitness, which was about fearing how much you could achieve if you were not too scared to do so. This kind of struck a chord with me on a climbing level, as much of my climbing and bouldering experience has consisted of trying to conquer fears. Whether it’s anxiety or confidence, it has been a long journey but I’m glad to still be on it! I think the most confusing thing is that I have no issues trying hard and being sure of myself when skating or playing roller derby. So why do I struggle so much with bouldering? Well, firstly I would never have been brave enough to sign up to roller derby if I hadn’t built up some confidence from bouldering. I think a lot of the newness I experience in roller derby didn’t feel so bad because I had already done it all with climbing, e.g new place, new people, new skills etc. The second time around it wasn’t so scary. So, I think it all boils down to confidence, climbing has given me the confidence in other aspects of my life, so now it’s time to believe in my climbing abilities.

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Ultimately, when I don’t try a move or problem, I know it is down to me and my fear/lack of self-assurance holding me back. Too many times have I fell off a climb and proceeded to undo my shoes for a shoe break, or gone and got a never-ending cup of tea. Putting off and delaying things is just a waste of time. Really, I should just get over myself and enjoy the climb, because if you aren’t enjoying something you don’t have to do, then why bother doing it?

 

Try hard for yourself, be confident and embrace the fear!

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Ease Climbing Aches | Be Your Own Therapist

As you probably already know A Boy Who Climbs is a sports massage therapist, which comes in handy when there are some climbing aches! However, I know not everyone is lucky enough to have their own therapist on hand to explain the best way to help you and your muscles. Here are a few ‘self-care’ things you can do for yourself at home, to help get some relief from those aches.

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Foam Rolling

This is essentially a self- myofascial massage, which helps to relieve pain and increase blood flow to the area. You can pick up a foam roller on Amazon or from a sports shop easily nowadays. They come in different textures for different depths of massage so you can pick what’s best for yourself, depending on how brave you are! Foam rolling is extremely easy; you basically roll the sore muscles back and forth on the foam tube…that’s it. Just like a massage it’s great for any kind of sporting ache.

 

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Much like foam rolling, trigger pointing is another form of self-massage but it works on a smaller, much more specific area. A trigger point is what some people refer to as a knot, but is a tightness in the muscle tissue that can cause an achy feeling in another area. Due to desk work and climbing I tend to have tight traps (trapezius), and even though it’s painful, rolling on a bouncy ball helps to reduce the trigger points.

You can use anything that is round and firm like a tennis ball, or even a lacrosse ball if you’re barbaric. I found this bouncy ball in a pound shop and it’s the perfect size and density.

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Heat

If the first two techniques are too much for you, nothing can beat a nice soak in the tub. Epsom salts are great to add to your bath as they help relax the muscles. This could be a placebo, as the warm water gerneally does plenty on its own, but it feels great either way. Epsom salts are easy to find in any pharmacy store, usually nearly the painkillers.

 

As much as I’m sharing this to help, it’s also a personal reminder to take these steps to help myself out in the long run! Of course, nothing can beat going to see someone specifically trained in the area, but there’s no harm in helping yourself out along the way.

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them belwo and I will get A Boy Who Climbs to answer them  🙂

 

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Slopers | How To Climb Them

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Notoriously slippery, rounded and very tricky, slopers are something I’ve been working on for a couple of weeks now. There was a problem in the gym that was full of them which inspired the training, as the route quickly became a project. I made it through in the end, and so here we are with very sore fingertips and some pointers to share!

So, how do you climb slopers?

 

What I’ve found to be the most important element of climbing on slopers is body position. E.g If you can hang directly under a sloper with your arm relaxed, you can suddenly find some friction. It’s all about learning where you need your body/weight to be, in order to create the most positive hand hold, which will all depend on the problem flow/direction.

Secondly, how you hold the sloper is also important. This will differ from hold to hold, plus route and wall angle, but looking for the part with the most texture isn’t a bad idea. I also found that half crimping the hold helped me out too.BM

Lastly, it’s commonly known that slopers can sense fear. If you don’t fully commit to holding that hold whilst trying hard, it will reject you and make you slip off!

If you follow me on social media you might have seen a video of me having a crack at the Beastmaker 1000 slopers. As frustrating as it was repeatedly falling off these holds, it was equally amazing when I got a little further and held them a little longer.

You can always do more than you think you can! I would love to hear your tips for holding slopers, leave them in the comments 🙂

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Learning and Improving | Every Little Helps

I’m not what you could call a ‘natural climber’. I’ve never been particularly outdoorsy, I didn’t start climbing from a young age, or have the built-in bouldering knack at my first session.  In fact, it was pretty much the opposite. I was scared of being up high, terrified of falling, and struggled to get my limbs to co-operate (the latter is still an issue). Yet there was something about bouldering which had me hooked, most probably the challenge.

A couple of years down the line and I’m still working away at bettering my climbing-self, which in a very long-winded way brings me round to the point of this blog post.

There is always time to learn and improve.

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One of my draw backs at the moment is flexibility, which is arguably the easiest thing to improve. I’ve been extremely lax with yoga, so I’m here to make a compromise in the form of weekly stretches tailored to climbing. I’ve said it before, but the hardest thing about yoga is actually rolling out the mat to do it. Stretching however somehow seems more accessible, and Netflix friendly. This small exercise will hopefully morph into a full yoga session at some point.

Specific areas for me to work on for climbing are shoulders, hips and legs.

So here’s the plan at a minimum:

-Low intensity jog on the spot to warm everything up

-Cow pose for shoulders

-Frog pose for hips

-Seated forward fold for legs

Hopefully stretching like this at home at least once a week will help me out on the walls, as I know I can definitely fit this into my week somewhere. It’s always a good pre-climb warm up if you throw in some dynamic stretches too.

As the title says, every little helps.

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Climbing For Yourself

A few things have changed this month. I’ve got a new job to pay the climbing bills, and with that comes different time schedules and general re-adjustment. This means I’ve not been able to climb with the people I usually would, but instead of popping down for a solo climb, I’ve waited until the timings aligned so I could go with them. There is nothing wrong with this, but since I really want to up my climbing game, hitting the gym once a week just isn’t going to cut it! Realistically I’ve got the time to fit in a quick session, so after putting it off I finally just went down and climbed on my own.

 
It was pretty cool as the gym was quite, so I happily worked a couple of problems and moved on to things I wouldn’t normally try. Surprisingly I  found climbing solo made me work harder, I took fewer breaks and just tried to get stuff done. There was no-one there to see me succeed or fail, and it really didn’t matter because I was enjoying myself and making some progress. Also, it wasn’t half as scary as I thought it was going to be!

 

Bouldering with others is awesome, I really enjoy the social aspect of the climbing community, plus sometimes having someone there watching can give you that extra little push to finish a move or problem. However, depending on how I’m feeling that day, having a bunch of people watch me can also work the opposite way. I guess it’s all very personal, and getting the right balance can be tricky. Sometimes it’s good having people around who inspire you to try hard, but equally it can be nice to solo climb and face your own battles to achieve your own goals for yourself!

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