Giving in to Burnout.

It’s been a little while since I have done a new post, and the reason is that I got really frustrated with climbing… I started a few posts, but ended up trashing them because I didn’t want to put anything really negative out there, so I was holding out until I got my feelings and my attitude sorted out…

So one thing I will say about myself is that my psych for climbing is generally ALWAYS at a really high level. That psych enables me to train five days a week, travel hours every weekend to climb outside, and to keep trying hard even when I am literally falling off of boulders time and time again… Every once in awhile, however, it all just gets to be too much for my mind and my body. Life happens. Training is hard. My body begins to ache. And somehow it becomes tougher to wake up in the morning and remember why I’m devoting a huge amount of time and energy to a sport that I continually fail at.

There’s a word for these feelings: burnout. It’s the feeling you get when you try and try, but just continue to fall down. At some point, it gets harder to pick yourself back up, wipe off the dirt, chalk up, and get back on the rock, despite the pain in your skin from the countless previous attempts.

So when do you know if you should get up and try again, or if the right thing is to finally just stay down, give it a rest, refocus, and come back another day?

In the past, I probably would always say get up and try again!! However, I am trying to be smarter about climbing these days, and not push myself into the state of overtraining. I have found from previous experience that one of the first symptoms of overtraining is a negative emotional response to climbing… i.e. when the mental battle starts to get tougher than the physical battle, it may be time to chill out a bit.

I have been experiencing this the last couple of weeks, forcing my body to train hard during the week and then immediately be ready to perform outside on the weekends, and finding that my body and mind were feeling less and less up to the task. I decided to take a week off from climbing (something that is so hard for me to do!), and see if it would give me a fresh start to get back into training mode.

My week off was actually quite delightful. It’s amazing how much free time I found since all my evenings weren’t devoted to some type of climbing/training. I was able to do some activities that I love (but rarely have time for) like yoga, trail running, and hiking. I put some extra focus onto recovery, and my hope was that the rest would give my body just what it needed to go outside and send my project (I had been working on a climb for the last month that I had done all the moves in two overlapping sections, but kept falling near the top). I figured the answer to overcoming my burnout was to SEND, after all, isn’t that the goal?

At the end of my rest week, my husband and I packed up the car, made the drive to Leavenworth (~3 hrs) on a Sunday evening to take advantage of a brief dry and cool weather window. Josh also had a project out there he was wanting to send, so we went there first, and within about an hour he was able to put away Thunderdome Low (v11). We then headed over to my project (Kobe Tai), and the second we got over there I was instantly in a bad mood… the moves that I once thought to be so fun felt pained and irritating. Every try I had, whether good or bad, made me more and more frustrated with myself because I knew that I was physically capable; I could easily get through the powerful section, but then was falling apart on the upper moves that just required me to keep my core tight. After about an hour, I decided to call it quits. I was not having fun, and if I’m not having fun, what is the point?

Over the next week, my feelings of climbing were up and down. If I had a good climbing or training session, I felt positive, and if I had a bad one, I felt like maybe I should just give up the whole sport…

Lucky for me, I have some amazing people in my life who are willing to listen to me complain about how much I feel like I suck at climbing, how I’m too short, how its too hard, etc., etc. I chatted with a couple of my girl friends about it and it was great just to have people to listen to me, empathize, and offer some sage words of advice. One of my friends asked me, “what sounds fun to you, other than just sending your projects, with regards to climbing?”… This gave me something to think about…

Basically, what do I enjoy about climbing? Is it all about the outcome, or do I also enjoy the process? The answer I kept coming back to is that I love almost everything about climbing! I love the people it has brought into my life, I love the places it takes me, I love working hard towards specific goals, and yes, I love trying until my skin bleeds, even if I don’t always send…

In conclusion, yes, I am still a little frustrated with how this season is going for me… I have trained harder than I ever have and have not seen the hard work culminate into a “dream send”… but I’m motivated to keep trying hard, keep focusing on having fun, and continuing to learn how to accept defeat gracefully… Yes, I will be psyched to send something hard, but in the meantime, I will keep trying my best and walking away happy, regardless of the outcome.

Thank you to my wonderful climbing partners for always putting up with me 🙂


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