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Overcoming "Mental" Blocks

This is a post about training and the title has a double meaning. The first meaning is literal- I have been experiencing some pretty significant blocks inside my mind when it comes to climbing since my return from Greece. Simply, I seem to have lost my confidence along with most of my fitness level. Moves that should be easy (and likely are easy) for me, scream YOU CAN’T DO THIS at me whenever I go for a hold. Rather than try, I give up and, defeated, ask to be lowered to the ground.

The second meaning of the title is a branch off of the literal and is a move into the complete insanity (ie use of the English slang word “mental”) of what I’ve been feeling.

I’ve been aware of the issue for quite some time- climbing is fun. Climbing is slightly terrifying. Climbing is exciting. And the feeling I get when I’m climbing is something close to pure meditation- moving past the fear I feel and finding that sweet spot, that zone that comes when you start progressing up something that mere decades ago would have been looked upon as ‘impossible.’ But, for one reason or another, I haven’t been able to find that zone.

Until tonight.

I got to the gym for a solo training session for which I set no expectations besides- climb until failure. Climb until I literally cannot hold onto the wall for a second longer. With failure as my goal, something shifted in my mind and rather than focus on success- on conquering the routes and seeking the elation that comes with the send- I focused on the idea that, yes, at some point I am going to fail.

So I climbed. And I climbed. And I climbed. I pushed myself to climb things over and over and over again until I fell. Then I pushed myself more. And I fell again. Over and over and over again I climbed until failure and I never once thought “I can’t do this” or “this is too hard.” I climbed until I could barely undo the locking carabiner.

Then I did pullups. Then I went home.

Maybe the key to success for me, with climbing, and perhaps with most things, is to accept that failure is an inherent aspect of life and that in order to make progress, in order to push yourself through previously established ceilings, you have to fail. And you have to accept that failure for what it is, rather than brush is off as weakness, as I am often wont to do.

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