Approaching the end of the year I find myself at that sort of reflective ‘How has my year gone’ phase and ‘How am I moving forward?’
As I have been climbing for the last 10 years, everything usually revolves around that! Training, planning and going on trips, thinking of the next adventure or goal.
However, when I sat down a couple of weeks ago thinking about training and climbing, I knew something had been niggling at me for a while. I knew deep down that I needed a break, that my constant training and planning needed to be put aside for a while. I’ve had a little shoulder issue for a couple of months now and it is time to get on the path to mending it. After slightly ignoring it and hoping it would get better with some attention and all of my regular training, I've finally realised that it will take dedicated attention and that means time off climbing and off training.
But it’s not always easy to know when to back off from training and what we are used to.
For everyone there can be a lot of pressure out there to TRAIN HARD! To work out, to look good, to perform better.
It is hard to take a step back out of this pressure to BEING BETTER.
Its important to know when training, or participating in your sports/hobbies that sometimes things are not very linear. We all want to believe that the answer is train, get strong, train, get better, train and then bingo! your goals are achieved, success and move on!
But what starts to happen when the next goal doesn't seem to be within your grasp, when it seems like you are not getting stronger, when it seems like there is no progression.
Mostly there are a number for reasons for this happening but what we tend to do is answer this problem with ‘oh I should probably just train harder, or more often, or just keep doing what Im doing and hope I still get better’!
It may seem obvious but the above approach will not help and you probably don't even know when you are the one doing that.
Progression can be stinted as I said for a number of reasons and the only way to really figure out what it is for you, is to take a step back, to review your goals, what it is you actually would like to be doing and formulate an idea of how to go about it and the potential factors that need to be worked on to get you there.
When I took my recent step back, I realised I've been wanting to figure out some things about my shoulders for a while now. I want to build on some obvious weaknesses, I want to increase mobility and improve my overall core strength. I want to do all this not only to benefit activities like climbing or my practice in Yoga but so that I can enjoy moving in my body better, pain free and confidently. Taking a long term perspective on your body, your health and your overall goals can really hep to take the immediate pressure off of needing to ‘perform’!
These revelations can only come through taking that step back and asking yourself what are you trying to achieve.
Finding Your Purpose in Training/Sports etc
Try imagining this yourself:
Every time you train, you are working towards something bigger; think about what this is for you.
It might be that when you reach a certain age you still want to be able to perform a particular skill, for example, a cartwheel; or if you have children you want to have the energy to play with them. Whatever it is, use it as a way of putting your physical health and your training into perspective.
Be in the moment each time you train, remaining mindful of your reasons why and what you want for your future.
Mostly I would say that if you keep perspective you will stay true to your own values, for me I find that I am motivated most to enjoy myself, to enjoy my body, to feel freedom and any 'pressure' beyond that creates tension and restriction.
Allowing Movement to Free You, Rather Than Restrict You
There is a much bigger picture, but only if we want to see it. Movement should allow you to free yourself from fear, doubt, pain, allow you to feel strong, confident, energised…the list goes on.
Rather than getting stuck on the path of pushing to perform or restricted by our ego’s pushing us to the limits in this attempt to be better.
We can all get too caught up with how we think we should be and what we think we should want or what other expect of us.
Every time you train it’s not just about right now – it’s also an investment in your future and for your health.
I know I don’t want to train excessively for the next ten years only to end up with an injury that forces me to slow down or worse, stop altogether. I also don’t want to close myself off to other opportunities I might come across in my life.
What it Means to Find Balance
To be balanced means relinquishing some of the “control” that we hold onto and think we have, but that actually controls us.
It means letting things go to make space for something else or someone else in your life.
It’s being given that permission, from either yourself or someone else, to expand your tunnel vision and see everything outside of the focus you have solely on your training. Look left, you see adventure, look right, there may be opportunities for fun, excitement, time with friends, family etc. Stepping back from the training routine may open up a whole new way of looking at things for you.
I know for me now that I am changing my routine a little, at first this was a bit daunting and I felt pressure to still train and climb, but now I feel like I can enjoy a whole range of other things and get excited at being a beginner in activities again. I know that in the long run when I return to climbing I will feel better for having taken an holistic long term approach.
Get What You Really Want Out of Life
Whatever age we are it’s so important to take care of our bodies. We want to be strong and healthy to be there for the people who need us, but we have to start with being there for ourselves.
It’s about finding balance and staying aware of what we are experiencing with our training and with life.
Sometimes we need that reminder from someone else to slow down, or think about how what we are doing will effect us in the long run. It is better ultimately to make this choice and feel empowered rather than having an injury or burn out force us into decisions.
Movement makes our quality of life better if we respect and take care of our bodies.
When I climb or practice yoga, I’m constantly looking to find balance, and it’s the same with the rest of my life as well.
I’m looking for balance and trying to take things a little less seriously, so I can enjoy my life with the freedom I have to move in my body.