Some call it being humbled, and they aren’t wrong. But, when I struggle to simply pull off the ground, I usually call it getting my butt kicked. Occasionally, I use slightly more explicit language.
Known for sharp crimps and no feet, Pawtuckaway bouldering kicks my butt, and most days I come away with shredded pads and no sends. Normally I’m fine with this. I’ve accepted the fact that I’m not a V10, or V8, or even V6 boulderer. It’s harder, however, when sometimes I’m not a V3 boulderer. And some days it’s hard to accept my relatively sendless season, when many of the people I climb with routinely check off multiple V7-V9s each session. I’ve found that playing catch-up on problems everyone else has already sent isn’t quite as fun as catch-up at the bar.
And then those thoughts of but this winter I actually attempted to train creep into my head. I want hard moves to magically feel easy, as if the 30 pull-ups I did this week will suddenly allow me to send my first V7 in a single session. This is simply unrealistic and certainly not how my friends who now consistently send the grade started out. But sometimes it’s difficult to accept that, though I can see exactly how I should make each of the moves, my body just isn’t strong enough or coordinated enough to execute them at this time.
So what does one do after a solid butt kicking? First, accept that you aren’t where you want to be. Maybe you’re just having an off day, or maybe you aren’t as strong as you’d hoped after a winter of pulling on plastic.
Now, decide where you should best direct your efforts. Being shut down can be highly motivating. You might go home and incorporate a few (additional) ab workouts into your training routine to better maintain body tension or start working on your anti-style to finally build up enough pinch strength to send. You also might decide that continuing to try and fail at your project is the best way to learn those particular moves–if you’re psyched, by all means do this! Or maybe you decide that you need a new, more realistic goal, and, instead of putting all of your effort into one season-long battle, you decide to finally send all the V5s in a particular area. This will teach you a larger range of movement than just working one problem, but it may not be as satisfying as perfecting every move to send that one perfect V9 line.
Now, the next time you go outside, try to remember why you’re climbing: Is it just to send the next highest number grade? Or are you having fun? Are you supporting your friends or just worried about yourself? Yes, push yourself to improve, and if “chasing grades” is motivating for you, then, please, chase away. However, accept the times you get your butt kicked with dignity. Let being shut down motivate you to continue trying hard and remind you that you still have much to achieve. If you never fail, then you’re not challenging yourself.
And remember to be happy for what your body can do. Not everyone is physically able to climb rocks, or even complete the approach. You probably have four relatively functioning limbs–and for that you’re quite lucky.