It's come to my attention that this month marks the third year that Climbing and I have been in a serious relationship. 3 YEARS! I can hardly imagine a life without her - with her ups and downs (literally and philosophically), cross-country travels, and hopefully life-long friends.
That being said, it's also the reason I'm sitting here with one injured finger and 3 others not far behind. Bummed. It's made me think though my climbing and realize a sort of ridiculous thing:
That in those 3 years of climbing, I have never taken longer than one week off. I honestly cannot take 7 days off without going through withdraw and experiencing PCS (Post Climbing Syndrome). The "rest days are for the weak!" mentality that over time, if not right away, will give you a full blown injury was my mantra and I thought non-stop climbing would only make me stronger.
WRONG. Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, Wrong.
The first thing I noticed was a decrease in performance; constant fluctuations in my climbing level. The next were the symptoms of a pre-burnout. The "why climb hard?", the "why waste my time with something so meaningless.", the occasional "why not just walk up the back?" thoughts raced through my mind. To a point they make sense and should be reflected on, I mean why spend countless hours a week over the course of years, devoting your life to a passion you're not truly psyched about?
The poisonous thoughts that ultimately make you give up climbing altogether. That was the scariest moment in my climbing career.
However, I began thinking "take a look at all the best climbers in the world, are they that better than me?" The short answer was, without-a-doubt, yes, but the long term answer was no, they had all at one point been where I am now - for some of them, not too long ago. A few of them even took long periods off of climbing. Take a look at Chris Sharma, who was forced to take a year off because of a knee injury. Before that he was climbing 14c/d. Shortly after he came back to climbing he sent Biographie, the world's first 15a. How could that be? Or even Nalle Hukkitival who took a year off while he was in the military, only to come back stronger than ever.
And then it hit me.
Maybe to make those big leaps in climbing ability, physical strength isn't important - maybe it's your mentality. Maybe at the highest level of your ability, the only thing pushing you up isn't ripped arms and iron tendons but your psyche for the sport and willpower to succeed. Climbing is like candy - at first it tastes amazing and it's all you want to eat (or do in the case of climbing unless you like the taste of granite). You become sick of it if you eat too much though. However, if you take a brake from it for a while, it tastes just as good as if you were having it for the first time.
Anyways, long story short, because of all of those reasons, I've decided to take a month off of climbing in hopes of coming back injury free and with a renewed psyche.