In the week post Font I’ve been climbing more than ever. I’m determined to improve my technique, try new things and move up a grade.
On Friday I did some technical training with James, a friend from The Arch, who is an amazingly beautiful climber. He makes every move look effortless and graceful, almost dancing up the wall, which is how I’d love to climb. He is a similar height to me, so he has a good idea about which holds I can reach and is great at suggesting how I can best position my body to extend my reach to its maximum or to be perfectly balanced (to the point that I can sit back on one heel and take both hands off the wall). He gives great beta and climbing with him I managed a dynamic move, which previously I’d been reluctant to try, learned how to use my legs more, in particular, using the leg I’m flagging with to push off the wall and into a move, and, most pleasingly, he gave me the confidence to make the next move on a yellow overhang that has been foxing me for over a week now.
While learning more about body positioning and technique, and trying to internalise it so that it becomes second nature, is invaluable, what I’ve also increasingly come to realise is that a big part of what is going to help me to move up to the next level is my head. I know that, left to climb alone, I doubt my moves and climb down before completing a route, whereas when I’m supported I make the same moves with more confidence and top out. Similarly, I know I sometimes give up on climbs when I start to feel fatigued or nervous, even if I know if I pushed on I could very possibly complete them.
I think my next big leap is to fight this tendency to play it safe and to start taking a few falls. I know both are against my natural instinct (not least as I can’t risk leg injuries in the run up to Tough Mudder and other half marathon events over the summer), but as yesterday’s climb proved, if I have faith I can make the moves. As Dave says: ‘Sticking with what’s comfortable isn’t a slow steady way to improve. It’s a slippery slope that starts off too shallow to notice but steepens alarmingly down the line.’