Now that I am almost 41, it is time to bring to a close the “Climb 5.12 before 40” stuff! With school school, and grad school, wedding planning, getting married, lots of out-of-state extended family time, and school teams, school conferences, school retreats, and it all starting over again things are nonstop, and time is at a premium! But, I enjoy my little blog and don’t want to neglect it too much, so…
Me clipping the chains on one 5.12 is not the real story I have to tell after this mini-year-long journey. But did it happen? Yes. I clipped the chains on Narcissist, a 12a at the New River Gorge in West Virginia. I took 4 times and fell a bunch, but taking and falling were allowed in my original rules, of which there was one: clip the chains. 🙂
Anyway, the real story is more like this, how did I get from crying on 10s in 2018 to clipping the chains on a 12 in 2021?
Since I started climbing in 2008, my attitude towards climbing has been, “I’ll never be able to climb like that.” That being, anything harder than what I was already doing.
And I think that this is a pretty familiar, albeit unhealthy, mindset about things among climbers and non-climbers. “I’ll never be able to do/be that.” That being anything too far beyond our scope of imagination for our own lives. Maybe that is running a half-marathon or becoming your boss’ boss. You get the idea.
I am going to argue that some success towards manifesting whatever goal is slightly beyond your personal scope of imagination actually comes fairly simply. I argue that to get going, you only need to do one pretty simple thing: be consistent.
Consistency is key, and it is simple.
Consistency is simply sticking it out long enough to build a habit. If you consistently do something that pushes you a little, then you will experience success. Run two miles everyday for a month, lean in at work for a month, climb 2-3 times a week for a month. Do that long enough, and that first tipping point will come. Baring a poor professional setting, injury, and overwhelming life circumstances.
The first tipping point comes after a good stretch of consistency.
My first tipping point, I didn’t even see it coming, but it was a climbing trip to the NRG in 2018 where I clipped the chains on two 11a climbs. This was my first inkling that I could climb like that. I was climbing like that.
Fact: You will not get 100% of the jobs you don’t apply for.
What had I done to earn this success? Honestly, not much. I climbed regularly at the gym, I worked gym projects, and I did this consistently. Most importantly, however, I tried the 11a climbs, granted only after someone told me to, but got on them. Had no one ever told me to try, honestly, trying might not have ever occurred to me. You will not land 100% of the jobs you don’t apply for.
Not trying is often the only mistake we make when it comes to achieving goals that seem unachievable. Zero attempts = zero mistakes.
So, yeah, I really do believe that to enjoy that first plateau of success in whatever you are desiring, you don’t have to do that much. Do something a little significant, consistently, and then actually stick your neck out and actually go for it.
So, now I was like the mouse with the cookie in that kids book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. I had a cookie… and now I wanted a napkin, and some milk, and a straw, and a story…
A second tipping point requires an increase in volume, intensity, strategy, or all 3. And still consistency.
As for the next tipping point, honestly, I can’t take much credit for it either. Reach opened Late Spring 2019. I went from a pretty nice gym with 35 foot mostly vertical walls for top roping, to a super nice gym boasting 55 foot walls with angles ranging from icky slab to upside down. Who isn’t going to get stronger climbing at a place like this?
At Reach, I just kept up my old habits, but now on longer and steeper routes. So, with no real planning on my part, there was a pretty significant change in the volume and intensity of my ‘training’ habits.
Tipping Point 3: Targeting Weaknesses
I don’t know if I would have gotten to my next tipping point without the pandemic, Spring 2020.
During the pandemic, there were two kinds of people, those trying to stuff ice cream into pancakes and those who started running a 10k before lunch everyday. I was the latter, but I started to lift and eat more protein. Like a legit 5 day a week lifting routine in our basement and 100 grams of protein most days.
And, I feel silly saying this, because I am not a big person, but I ‘bulked up.’ Ha! Friends will read this and laugh, but I do think I put on maybe 2-3 lbs of muscle? Like, I grew an actual bicep to flex.
As of fall 2021, there were no new gyms opening. The pandemic was ‘over.’ Life was back full force and nothing was going to make my goal ‘easy’ to achieve. There was grad school, school school, career goals, wedding planning, and just a lot of stuff. Consistency got really hard. My little goal was like a pipe dream, and it felt a little ridiculous.
Weeks were filled with school school, grad school, climbing, lifting, occasional rest days, and occasional mountain bike days. Honestly, even sleep felt like work. But, we got to the gym 3 days a week and I added sets of pull ups and hangboarding to my climbing sessions to help have the best climbing season I could.
And I did get to the top of Narcissist last season.
What got me there was consistency, the best we could muster during that extremely busy fall. We made it to the gym 3 times a week. I lifted twice a week, and before each gym sesh I did a pull up and hangboard workout. It was enough.
Consistency + 1
That is my equation for continued baby steps of betterment. For me, the consistency was lifting twice a week and climbing twice weekly. The plus one would be the extra gym sesh, the pull ups, and the hangboarding in the late summer and early fall season leading up to the trips.
Now, fall 2022, I am basically at it again! This time with no specific goal in mind though. Clipping the chains on Kuckle Sauce at the Red, or Sancho Beliege or Starry at the New would be cool.
Being very busy with work and grad school, or whatever is making your time come at a premium, consistency + 1 is key, I think. Keep doing what you do consistently, and add something super targeted and efficient towards your goal, and hopefully you will still find yourself doing well with challenging goals.