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Climbing Mindfully

Posted on February 9, 2012 by Margaret Schlachter

The hand moves and the foot explodes to the next hold again and again this process repeats itself as I make my way around the climbing gym. A calm spreads over me and the high school aged kids playing around seem to disappear into the background. The only thing on my mind is remembering to breathe and taking it one movement at a time. It’s Wednesday, which means one thing, my hour with Steve at Green Mountain Rock Climbing is here.

We started out as we have in the past bouldering around the gym. Today, I was extra calm even while surrounded by a couple high school teams. I didn’t beat myself up for not getting up before sunrise for a snowshoe instead I took the time to rest my body and take in the quietness before getting from bed. The whale was no longer a struggle and I made my way around the overhang, not even fully aware I was bouldering further than I had before without dropping. I was about three moves from the end before dropping off the wall.

What was the difference today? I stopped trying to muscle through it fast and move onto the workout. I took an extra bit of time to focus on the task at hand. Still it was a challenge and did get my arms pumping. Then Steve and I moved onto part two of the warm-up. We did a few hangs off an inclined wall; we are targeting my weaknesses currently. After early failures to stay on the wall for more than 3-5 seconds we moved on.

With a deck of cards in hand we started phrase two. First card picked indicated the number of push-ups to be completed and the second indicated pull-ups. We went through a little over a quarter of the deck rotating between push-ups and pull-ups. Pull-ups are still my kryptonite, I would complete three assisted, then hang for the remainder for each card pulled. No kipping on this one.

Next we moved into the climbing part of the workout. The first set was eight consecutive climbs on one of the more technical 5.7’s in the gym. It was a climb you could not just muscle through and took some thought to make it to the top successfully. After completing those we dropped into a three-minute plank. I thought at this point in the workout we were done, as we often end with plank, but I was wrong today. We finished up the plank then headed over a 5.6 climb with a little gap in the middle and knocked out six climbs on that wall.

This workout was tough but not in the fast paced, pool of sweat, or ready to vomit sort of way. No, this workout specifically targeted my weaknesses. The climbs at the end forced me to concentrate more instead of less. The last few climbs were as much a mental game as a physical one. Steve told me technically each one was getting better, but as he lowered me each time I just tried to figure out what I had just done. It was as if I had blacked out while climbing up and couldn’t recall the journey. I have had this before; tonight I experienced myself in the moment. There was no before and was no after it was only the now. Another memorable night at Green Mountain Rock Climbing.