I could probably write a whole year’s worth of blog posts about insecurities and climbing. I deal with it frequently and have talked to other women who, while I might think are strong and flawless, don’t always view themselves as such. It’s an unfortunate but very human quality most of us have. At the beginning of this summer my girlfriend, Sabine, and I bought tickets to go to Squamish, British Columbia, in August. I was thrilled at the opportunity to spend a week taking photos of her crushing hard boulders and scrambling up as many v1s as I could find.
Unfortunately, as with most of my trips with people stronger than me, a measure of doubt and self loathing began to seep into my thoughts. I have spent nearly five years climbing and have sent one v4 (and nothing harder). I have watched many other friends spend two years climbing with a far more impressive tick list. This is not a plea for sympathy or for someone to say, “but you are strong”. Those comments often don’t change how we view ourselves in the privacy of our own minds. So, in an effort to change how I view my own climbing skills, I bought a training plan. I had considered this option for a year. I asked a fellow coach to make me one (he never did). I did some light research and attempted a regular fitness routine meant to help improve my climbing performance. Nothing worked and I was left feeling more tired and busy than when I had been climbing for fun. I admitted defeat. I needed help, I needed a schedule and I needed someone who wasn’t a friend to do it. I bought a Training Beta plan.
The plan is specific to bouldering, focusing on upower, power endurance, and finger strength. After completing one seven week power endurance segment, I can see a difference. It’s small, not often noticeable when I really want it to be, but I have definitely improved as a climber. The program fits my schedule, giving me time ranges so that I can schedule sessions between work and class, and provides me with methods to train that are ever changing and entertaining enough that I don’t feel bored at the gym. The plan isn’t magic of course, it requires a lot of perseverance and while my confidence has improved somewhat, I’m still intimidated by anything that involves dynamic movement or overhangs (or biceps forbid, both). The plan is affordable enough for a college student, only about $15 a month and is generally effective at providing a variety of options for people of different skills. It’s easy to manage and the plans are usually doable (I’m bad at pulls up, ok!) and on the days not spent sweating profusely and feeling like my arms are about to fall off, I enjoy being in the gym again.
I don’t plan on sending enough v4s during my Squamish trip to make up for my personally decided failures as a climber, and my goal is still to do as many v1s as possible, but hopefully I’ll feel more confident, like I’ve made improvements outside and inside this summer. After spending nearly a year showing up at the gym feeling disenchanted and bored, having a training plan allows me to feel productive and like I’m using my time wisely. I’m looking forward to the upcoming bouldering season. I’m looking forward to Squamish and touching some boulders. Maybe even a v4, like a really soft one would be nice. Any suggestions?