Injuries. Anyone that has gotten deep into a sport can have some sort of understanding to the annoyance of having that niggle turn into something “less-than-productive”. I have a history of damaging myself, not so much with broken bones (touch wood), due to the fact that I’m quite a wuss and largely conservative at putting myself into situations where I’m not in control. No, I’m that knob that does a few too many reps, runs DOWN a mountain with a heavy pack or pushes it on days when my body is screaming to recover.
I have many theories as to why I inadvertently push myself into scenarios where tendons pop and muscles strain, but I’ve seen these painful events as great lessons that have forced me to press pause and take a look around.
I’ve always felt inadequate, physically and mentally. I was pretty chubby in school, I was that epileptic kid, my marks weren’t that impressive and I have constantly struggled to socialize. Yep, those are the nasty little monkeys bouncing around in my brain. You would imagine with some cool accomplishments under my belt that I would have gotten over myself, however, while the success built up my confidence, my ego has shown it’s ugly face at times. My ego has been that little voice telling me that “what I did before was WAY cooler than what I’m doing now, push harder, be better!”- Pretty silly, but this ego of mine feeds on those little insecurities and exploit past experiences. Ultimately, I lose perspective.
On the surface injuries are counterproductive. Why push yourself into situations where you’re not actually getting stronger and then suffering the inevitable consequences of being benched, away from what you love the most… what’s the point?
Climbing has been a sport that both feeds my ego, yet it has created a lifestyle that feeds my soul. Having mountains and cliffs are the most blatant scale of progress, yet my dilemma is balancing a need to prove myself, while not taking it all so seriously. I’m not saying setting ambitious goals is bad, I feel like it’s necessary for growth, however, knowing when you’re isolating yourself, becoming fixated or showing signs of arrogance, that’s where tendons start to pop.
Pushing yourself into unknown terrain is important and knowing your limit (at that moment), being mentally and physically, is really difficult, especially when you’re young and made of rubber. Being benched for stress fractures and tortured ligaments has bruised my ego, yet this pain has been invaluable for my maturity as a person and a climber. I’m not looking to get injured for some sort of epiphany, however, they are part of the learning curve into my vertical journey.
The worst one I’ve had was a blown knee/back COMBO. I was off for around 7 months and during that time I sank into depression and didn’t think that I’d ever climb again, then I hated climbing…weird. I had a lot of time to think and contemplate my stupid actions and the choices that brought me to that point. Knowing the reason why I did what I did was painful to confront, but this injury grounded me, refocused me and in many ways, it made me a more conscious individual. It was particularly bad not because of a couple of days of overtraining, it was due to my poor diet (i.e. starving myself), high anxiety for an upcoming expedition, a dogmatic and uncompromising approach to MY objective and overtraining. I was selfish and obsessed and that hiatus from what I loved the most was torturous but necessary.
Since then, I’ve become more receptive to the warning signs and knowing when to back off. I haven’t mastered it and as I’m writing this a slightly damaged rotator cuff creaking in its socket. I’ve taken some rest days and taken some breaths, I’m recentring myself and doing my best to be patient. It’s all part of the journey.
Be flexible. Be kind. COMPROMISE. Listen to your body. Enjoy the Journey.