2017 is less than a week away, and you know what that means: Getting to work on your “New Year’s resolutions.” Now you might be thinking, Please no, not another piece on New Year’s resolutions: They’re cliché, quickly abandoned, and I hate them. That is true of many performance- and training-focused goals.* However, I promise I won’t encourage you to lose 10 pounds, finally send 5.13a, get on a ridged training plan or give up chocolate this year. Instead, I’d like you to consider making the following four practices a little higher on your priority list:
Focus on Supporting Others:
It’s easy to get caught up in your own performance, especially after several unsuccessful redpoint burns or when you’re having one of those days when you can’t manage to pull off the ground. However, solely focusing on one’s own climbing during these times most often leads to anger, sadness, self-doubt, grumpiness and other negative feelings that not only harm performance and put one in a bad mood, but make those around miserable too. Focus on encouraging your partners instead. Whether you’re on a sending spree or can’t make a single move, getting psyched for those around you will make you happier. The best part: Psych is incredibly contagious, so your buds will support you more too, leading to increased sending, and, more importantly, happiness, for all.
Prioritize Your Self Care:
Training and trying hard are important, but don’t underestimate how much your three-hour gym workouts and frosty after work bouldering sessions take out of your body. You need to make time to roll out tight muscles, stretch (chest and hip openers!), and refuel with nutrient-dense foods to aid your body in its recovery process (the time when you actually get stronger). Your training goals should include prioritizing a good warmup, shoulder strengthening and finger extensor training to make 2017 the year you remained injury free by training (and resting!) smarter, not harder.
Be a Morale Booster:
Letting off steam complaining about icy top outs, rainy Saturdays and sore behinds after 7-hour car rides may feel good in the moment, but it does little to better the situation. Instead, bring chocolate, extra chalk bag hand warmers and an “always looking on the bright side” attitude to each of your climbing sessions this year. I can guarantee you and your partners will have increased happiness and fun on your best AND worst days. Plus, who wouldn’t want to be known for always breaking out a chocolate bar at the best possible moment?
Achieving your outdoor goals and sticking to your training schedule are important, but not if that pursuit destroys the rest of your life. As climbers, we are, arguably, obsessed with our sport, so it’s important to periodically check in with ourselves to make sure that climbing is adding more to our lives than it’s taking away. You shouldn’t get incredibly stressed out about sending–it is just trying to get to the top of a rock in the most difficult way possible without falling–or missing one workout or occasionally eating a still warm homemade chocolate chip cookie. Let climbing build your confidence, foster meaningful relationships, challenge you physically and mentally, and give you a break from the stresses of life. And, if that means occasionally skipping a workout to meet a friend for yoga or staying up a little later to enjoy nachos with your partners at the end of a long day, then, by all means, do it!
I wish you a happy, adventure- and sending-filled New Year!
*There is nothing “wrong” with setting performance and training goals for 2017; in fact they are often quite helpful for improvement. However, I’d suggest pairing those goals with at least one, if not all, of the above for increased health and overall happiness this year.