Today was a good day. It was a Monday and I got to play hooky. That alone would do it for me but added to that the weather was divine – sunny and warm but not too warm – and I was in a place of stunning natural beauty doing one of the things I love best (rock climbing.) What’s not to love? (Am I making you nauseous? I do hope not but feel free to click away if this is the case, natch.)
Actually, a more accurate description of my relationship with climbing might be ‘love-hate.’ Most of the time I really love it and it plays an important role in my life. But some days it drives me wild (and not in the good way.) It’s the classic love-hate thing where you want something a little too much and in grasping it so tightly you end up strangling the life out of it if you’re not careful.
I don’t know how much you know about rock climbing but one fact about it that may or may not surprise you is that it is 99% mental. Power, technique and fitness all play their part but reigning supreme over them all is the climber’s head. Fact: your technique goes to pot if your head is not calm and focused. Fact: your power disappears in an instant when lactic acid surges through your forearms because you’ve been clinging on too hard because you’re scared. Fact: fitness doesn’t matter a jot if you don’t believe you can get up a climb.
And that, in a nutshell, is also why I have a love-hate relationship with climbing. I love it because it is by turns a mental challenge and a mental meditation. I love it because it strengthens me mentally. I hate it on days when I can’t (or won’t or don’t) rise to its challenge. I hate it when I make it hard for myself by psyching myself out. But today was not one of those days. Today was a good day.
Today was a day when I climbed with the sun on my back and a smile on my face. A day when I warmed my mind and muscles up well on easier climbs before challenging myself just a little bit more. A day when I eased myself into the rhythm of the rock and my movement started to flow. A day when I got a little nervous but I pushed through that fear, I didn’t succumb, and I felt good for having conquered it.
So next time I find myself stuck on a climb and suffering from disco-leg (a charming, involuntary and uncontrollable shaking of your lower limbs that attacks when you’re scared and then makes you a heap more scared as it threatens to chuck you off the rock-face) I promise I’ll do my best to cast my mind back to today. A day when it all flowed so well. A good day.