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A Girl Who Climbs

A blog of bouldering

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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New Year New Rules

To me the phrase ‘New Year, New Me’ always seems like it’s going too far, as if you’ve got to purge yourself and start from nothing because last year’s you is just so, well, last year. I think it should be more like ‘New Year, New Opportunities to Improve on my Current Self’, but I guess that just isn’t as catchy or maybe I’m reading too much into it.

 

Anyway, after hearing and reading that phrase endlessly for the last week it got me to thinking. I have probably missed plenty of opportunities to improve myself because I was too worried about the outcome. This applies to everything from choosing to ignore a phone call to not participating in climbing events, so I’m trying a new train of thought for 2017:

 

If it scares you, do it.

 

I don’t mean any crazy life threatening situations or doing something that could cause the outcome to hurt others. What I mean is to push yourself and try saying yes. Any little thing that pops up in everyday life that I would usually avoid or run away from, I’m going to try to embrace and enjoy it.

 

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and great start to 2017!

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It’s Christmasssssss

Well, very nearly! I hope you are all having a nice festive break or on your way to one if you’re still working. Here are few of my favourite climbing related people, websites, blogs and shops I enjoy virtually hanging out at when I’m after a climbing fix or relaxing.

Grab a brandy and mince pie!

 

HoldBreakerwww.holdbreaker.com

Amazing customer service and their website is packed with so much climbing information and I love their ethos: “We believe everyone’s struggle is the same, irrespective of level” #NoBetaNeeded

 

Beatmonkeyswww.betamonkeys.co.uk

I’m sure you’ve seen these cartoons already as they are always flying around the climbing community. The truth behind them is what makes them so funny and relatable, and sometimes just the thing you need to get you through the week

 

Rock Ragswww.rockrags.co.uk

For climbers by climbers. This site houses independent business’ and their clothing, all of which is climbing related and awesome

 

Fernwehwww.fernwehuk.com

Beautiful handmade knits and chalk bags that are so cute yet sturdy!

 

Eric Karlsson Bouldering –  www.youtube.com/user/opuz1337

Great videos that range from techniques to general wall fun, I always feel inspired after watching these

 

Girl On Rockwww.girlonrock.co

Great blog on all things climbing, a nice way to spend 10 minutes with a cup of coffee

 

Wishing you a very merry climbing Christmas!

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Review | Scarpa Vapour V Womens Climbing Shoe

I bought the Scarpa Vapour V way back in August when I was looking a comfortable, downturned boot. The price of the older style dropped considerably when the new model arrived, so  I managed to pick them up cheaply. I was still trying to break in my second pair of Five Ten Anazasi LV boots at the time so the Vapours unintentionally took a back seat for a little while, until more recently!

 

vap-1Fit –For someone with wide feet these are a great fit. I wanted a more comfortable shoe so I didn’t go with bouldering fit when sizing. Instead I went to a store and tried a few different sizes on around my normal size, which resulted in me going up half a size from my street shoe (UK 3). There is still good toe pressure and heel fit with this sizing but much less pain! They don’t seem to have stretched noticably but that could be because they are still breaking in. I have read some reviews that say the Vapours are particularly painful on the Achilles tendon. The only time I experienced this was when the small, blue leather tag inbetween the pull tabs was rolled down into the shoe, but as soon as I flattened it out it was fine.

 

Specifications – The Vapour boots have an asymmetric toe box, a full boarvap-2d sole and are moderately downturned. I can really feel the benefit of these features when I’m climbing on a steep angle or on a roof. The downturn makes it feel like the toe ‘clips’ onto the holds, and the full board gives my feet solid support. One of the main things I really like about the fit of this shoe is the half sock/mesh tongue. It’s really comfortable on the top of my foot and makes getting the boot on and off particularly easy. The Vibram XS Edge rubber is a decent all-rounder but not as sensitive as other brands that I have tried, however I think the overall shoe build compensates for this.

 

Performance – The Scarvap-3pa Vapour shoes are great on all types of climbs, but I find that they perform particularly well on roof/cave and angled walls due to the downturn and solid toe box. They edge well and have a decent amount of sensitivity, I never really worry about standing on small holds when I wear these shoes. They seem to be breaking in nicely and I’m happy to report that downturn is still there and they have not flatten out. I would like to try these outside though, as I have only climbing plastic in them so far.

 

Aesthetic – I’m a big fan of the blue and grey colour pallet as it’s gender neutral and understated. Even the new version which have yellow piping detail are easy on the eyes.

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Conclusion

After bouldering in these boots for about a month I am really impressed with how they fit, feel and perform, and I can see myself sticking with the Scarpa brand for future shoes. They are a versatile shoe for a beginner or advanced climber as they perform great in every department. Personally, I’m happy to have found a comfortable fitting shoe which is easy to get hold of and I feel has helped me improve my climbing skills.

I don’t think you can ask for much more from a boot!

 

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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.

 

Trigger Pointingfile_001-ball

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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FlexEX | Review

I’m sure you’ve been told a million times before that you should always stretch before climbing, which is sound advice, and this also includes stretching your fingers. After a light brush with golfer’s elbow a month ago which I posted about here, I took some advice and bought the FlexEx. I’m not going to lie, I was slightly dubious about parting with money for what are essentially coloured, latex loops. However, I was not disappointed and now I always use them before climbing. If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen a few pictures/videos of me messing around with these bands.

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The colour depicts the difficulty. Yellow = Easy, Red = Medium and Blue = Hard. You can double up or mix and match the colours for more of a challenge.

First impressions, I thought the exercises and stretches would be far too easy for my seasoned climbing mitts. How wrong I was as the FlexEx are small yet mighty. I was genuinely surprised by how difficult the basic stretch was, and it was in that moment I realised two things:

  1. My finger strength is awful
  2. These bands are awesome

In terms of using them to help with golfer’s elbow I would highly recommend them. I mostly used the yellow band with the basic stretch once a day, which was enough to feel some good aches without bring on a flare up. There are so many different exercises you can do with these little guys, I’ll link the site with videos here. They’re really easy to get hold of in the UK too, I ordered mine from Amazon.

I’ve had a bunch of friends and climbers try them out and they went through the same emotional process of doubt, surprise and joy. I think these are an extremely useful tool for any climber, no matter their current grip strength. I like how small they are, which makes it easy to take them to the gym or crag without taking up any extra space or weight.

 So overall a big, stretchy thumbs up for FlexEx.

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Finding The Balance

Things on the blog have slowed down a little because I’ve not really been climbing, which has made it hard to write posts. In fact I feel pretty guilty as the reason for climbing less is because roller derby has started to take over my spare time. It’s hard trying to find a balance between the two sports, especially when skating comes more naturally than climbing. However I’m starting to even out my time, and I have seen some unexpected improvments.

I got back on the wall at the start of the week and it felt awesome, I realised how much I had missed it. It also made me think that climbing has given me some good foundations to build on for skating, and now I can see how roller derby has started to help my climbing. I’ve gained better core strength, I’m more confident with footwork since I figure, if I can do it on wheels I can definitely do it off wheels. I don’t feel as scared as I did when climbing up high, and generally moving around the wall feels more natural.

Even though it didn’t feel like at the time, the inadvertent bouldering break has actually been a good thing. So it’s okay for things to change on the priority list, and taking some time once in a while is okay too, especially if it helps you appreciate some improvements.

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