Alright, I’m ten days into the thirty of zero climbing. In just twenty days I can start pulling at the gym again, and then in another two months, hopefully bouldering and/or trail running.
Day 6: Seize the motivation – It’s hard to identify exactly what Motivation is, only that it is the spawn of Desire. Without it we are either stagnant, or we digress in all ways: mentally, emotionally, physically. Sometimes we spend so much energy searching for it, and sometimes it just falls on you. Either way, whenever it crosses your path, the key thing is to not let it out of your sight. Seize it, jump on it, and run away with it. Once you’ve put it into practice, let it now be the momentum that carries you up the next hill that’s about to come. You’ll need it, because the bigger challenge you set for yourself, the more “swing” you’ll want to have.
Day 7: Learn to recognize the good pain – Being out of practice with weight training, and also training some very small and hard-to-target muscles, I’m essentially having to do some re-acclamating to being sore and feeling the burn in areas I haven’t in a long time. For the past two years I’ve probably felt that burn in my forearms and abs about 95% of the time (maybe the other 5% was accidental). I’ve said this before, but don’t be surprised if certain muscles of the body feel weak. It’s a fact that my legs are not, at this time, nearly as strong as they were when I played volleyball in high school (I’ll do another post in the future about how important leg strength still is in climbing).
Speaking of good pain, I had my third go with dry-needling today. I’m happy to say that I went in with my game face on at 8:30 in the morning, and that it was finally a successful endeavour. Going through two layers of gluteus muscles to reach the minimus, Heather struck four different trigger points, getting four separate contractions, all of which reached a decent “groaning” level on the discomfort scale, and very worthy of an ice pack.
Day 8: Some days are hard – When hard days happen, normally you turn to that one outlet that diverts your attention, helps you work through things, allows your mind time to simmer, etc. In not having that outlet however, you have to be prepared to have a plan B. I’m not going to sugar coat this process – it’s not easy, especially when you’re forced into it. This plan B is different for everyone, so I can’t tell you exactly what to do there. If you can still run, maybe take 20 minutes and go sweat off some steam; or throw some upper-cuts at a punching bag. See how many pull-ups in a row you can do, and then immediately try to beat that. Do whatever you can that’s a) not going to hurt you or anyone else, and b) will still keep that mental fire going. The last thing you want to let happen is for that motivation to dip down below that personal threshold. If you need to talk someone, pick up the phone. People in your life aren’t always going to know what your mental state is or how to help you unless you directly say to them, “I just need to talk and vent.” You know it isn’t sympathy you want, and so do they, which makes it all the better.
Day 9: Some days are harder – I’ve come to the conclusion that this set of days is mentally the toughest. It isn’t so unheard of to take anywhere from 4-10 days off intentionally, just for the sake of letting your muscles heal. Personally though, my mind isn’t used to going beyond that length of time without climbing, and that is when the mental struggle starts. The hardest part is that since I haven’t been climbing, a lot things are starting to “feel pretty good.” If you climb, then you know exactly what I’m talking about, because we’ve all been there. Remember the first pulley you ever snapped? It probably “felt alright” after a week and a half, so you thought that just keeping it at moderates would be okay. Yeeeaaahhhh, felt awesome, huh. Going by my timeline then, this is about the time I’d be telling myself the same thing, except as a veteran to injuries at this point, I’ve learned that it’s better to be smart than to push through pain. Seriously. BE SMART. It’s extremely hard to say no, but if you have any ounce of humility and respect for yourself and your body, then you will do it a favor and let it heal the way it should. I should have stopped climbing the instant Dr. O’Brien saw the pars fracture, but only decided to risk it even longer. I was lucky that nothing worse happened between that lapse of better judgment and when I decided to actually be smart. It is very possible to get through this rougher spot of recovery, but it’s going to take some proactive behavior. Make yourself laugh. Call your best friend, and if she doesn’t answer, play phone tag until there’s a winner. Eat a cookie (and I do mean one), or bake cookies for other people. Try to keep spirits high. If it’s stupid, but it works, do it. This is the point of the game when it comes down to mentality.
Day 10: Look at results – Even though it’s been only ten days, a lot has had to change. Losing some strength and endurance in my upper body and hands is inevitable, BUT in just two weeks I can already feel a difference in my lower body strength. My leg press max is increasing at high-speed, I’m starting to work on some one-arm pulls with assistance, and even better I’m more aware of how the dry-needling is helping the sciatica. I’ve been able to sleep better at night, and I also aced my chemistry test (proud of me dad??). If you’re going through a recovery process, there will be so much to be proud of and keep moving forward with.