Thursday, May 25, 2017

Putting it down matters as much as sending

I always loved to write, be it on sticky notes or the last page of your notebook, I always loved it. Then I started blogging. Initially, I wrote about things, things that affected me, inspired me, disheartened me -- all that was external to me. Then I started about myself, my thoughts, my process, my failures and accomplishments. I enjoyed this subtle transitions in my writing. This was well before I started to climb.

Then climbing came to me in 2013. Well, it came earlier than that, but I really never climbed in a focussed and committed way till 2013. Like every new climber, the quick initial progression from V1 to V4 made me feel great. I blogged about grades and climbing process and the routes I sent. The suddenly the strange feeling of 'tooting your own horns' came to me that said stop blogging/bragging about your accomplishments.

I don't know why it came or what triggered that feeling, but it came for sure and hit me hard. I deleted a lot of my old climbing posts and the subsequent posts that I wrote gave more of an objective description of my outings, climbs. Everything was mostly from a third person point of view. It started sounding more like a report rather than an experience. An objective viewpoint, rather than my own subjective one. And then I wondered why the process of writing was no longer fun. I lost faith in the process of writing. And eventually stopped writing about my climbs. I merely posted a few photos, but that did not help me relive the experience or process.

Anyway, climbing always remained close, but had to take a year off in 2015/16 to manage professional commitments. Even then I tried to train whenever I could. It was an honest, but poor effort. Then, things changed and I had access to climbing once again.

In March this year, it was 6 months that I had come back to climbing (Since October 2016) and I was starting to immerse myself in climbing again, with more zeal if anything. The break was surely good. In these 6 months, I took my first lead fall on gear (trad climb), I onsighted my first 5.9 trad.  I was charting down my training regimen and my schedules. It was fun and inspiring. Although I realize now that the training plan is an ever evolving sheet and I have to modify it as I grow. But the point is that getting back for surely great.

Then I had my first major finger injury where I crushed my pinky under a loaded barbell and could literally see my tendon sheath severed. The extensor tendon was hurt bad. I learnt the process of being patient and recovering. Eating well. I still visited the gym to remain stoked. I learn restraint and not climbing on my injured finger. I ran a lot and did some core exercises, but nothing that even remotely required my hands. My return to climbing lasted 4 months before I had to stop climbing for a couple of months due to finger injury.

But like everything else, the injury phase passed and I started climbing again. It's been four weeks now. I am training religiously. I haven't had the chance to go out, but indoors I sent my first V7 and am very close almost sending my first 5.12b (7b) route.

Well, I know many will say its plastic, but, that's where the prologue of this post comes into play. I should start being subjective about my sport, about my passions and my skills and my accomplishments. I should believe in them and describe the process. Because when describing the process, I am not just putting down what I managed to do, but I also rethink and relive the process. It's helps me understand the subtleties of the process and helps me appreciate the finer moments.

And above everything else, it teaches me a lot about myself. And I believe that it may teach or at least inspire someone else to apply it to their own processes. The send on any route, lasts for 4/5 minutes. Considering that average route is around 40-50 moves long, with a couple of rest stances where you can shake out for 20/30 seconds and at an average rate of around 5-6 second per move -- all totaling to around 250 seconds. Yeah, so besides the math, the average redpoint send lasts for 4/5 minutes, but the process lasts much longer if you are conscious.

Consciousness is the key here. The process can be reduced to mere neuromuscular coordination without any conscious learning if you focus on mechanical movements and sequences. But if you are conscious the very process can be a rich and rewarding experience where you know the exact angle of your heel hook and at what moment to engage your core and when to breathe.

I am beginning to learn this and enjoy this. I want to be a good climber, a better one. To the level of what? Well, I wouldn't mind 5.15s and V12s. But for now, I lay my aims on being able to redpoint 5.13 grades in sport. Which means, I need to be solid at V8 (and be able to pull off V9 after some work) and pretty comfortable with 5.12s in sport. When I say solid, I mean I should be able to do it in a few tries, almost on all styles. Which would directly translate to being competent 5.11 trad leader (including cracks, at which I currently suck) and being able to send mega classics like Casual Route or Beckey Chouinard without any epics.

I am taking a big leap and putting it down. Because I need to be more subjective about it and be conscious about it to be able to ingrain that  process in my routine -- training, sleeping, diet and the actual climbing sessions. I truly believe that writing helps and putting in down on paper or blog or anything will help me realize it. It matters as much as sending.