#slowlydoesit by Dave Sarkar

by dan crossdale
Posted: 31st Jul 2017

Blog sponsored by Scarpa UK.

 

#slowlydoesit

We live in fast times, everything is to hand at the press of a button. Want a Taxi? – press a button and one arrives at your door. Want a new Beastmaker fingerboard for tomorrow? – press a button and one appears the next day. Want to climb the hardest route in the UK …? Well not quite but you get the picture – except the climbing the hardest route bit, we might think these achievements happen overnight but what we don’t see in the background is the years of training, frustrations and injuries that go into these ascents. They don’t happen overnight – you can be on Malham catwalk some days and one-one gets up anything; lot’s of hanging around but no sends whatsoever.

This month’s post is here to support and discuss the merits of getting there slowly. Never mind get rich quick schemes, I’m more a subscriber to the get rich slowly mindset. Small, steady and incremental improvements make for a happy and injury free climbing career as well as time to enjoy life and reap the beneficial rewards of a healthy body and mind. It’s easy to print out some new radical fingerboard training method that is fashionable and made some young gun super strong and able to flash some 8c but when we try it, it can quickly lead to injury – then your climbing is over for the season.

The mighty Cliffe, how could you not want to slow down and enjoy the full experience

I did some work with an A&E Doctor from London last year – we spoke about lots of things (as you do when hanging off multi pitch climbs) and one of the topics that cropped up throughout the tone of our days was that of time. We both agreed that although time was a physical constant, at the human level it was a state of mind and that during stressful (and life and death for her) situations she had learned to slow down with statements such as…” I have a whole two minutes in which to complete this procedure” and not “I’ve only got two minutes I’d better get a move on”. You too could take some benefits from adopting a slower approach to time and they are worth exploring in more detail.

The benefits of a slow approach to training and getting better at climbing are legion:

You get time to analyse how you are reacting to your training and busy lifestyle. Do you feel like you have had a poor night’s sleep after a hard session at the wall? Feel like you can’t be bothered to train because you don’t have time or it seems easier to sit on the sofa and catch up on box set episodes? Are you regularly skipping and not completing weekly training targets? These are all signs that life is speeding by and you should be slowing down a little in order to analyse where you can find extra time.

Are you regularly tired when training and finding it longer to warm up? Even at the crag this can seep into your day, believing you don’t have any time and skipping a thorough warm up and finding you’re getting nowhere. You need to slow your crag day down a little – take more time warming up and some gentle climbing, then just take a couple of goes on your project with plenty of rests in between.

Are you irritable and argumentative? Classic signs of this are blaming your belayer for a little bit of tight rope as you clip a quickdraw; shouting at your partner because they have lowered you fractionally lower than you wanted to go in order to work that tiny, incremental move and generally blaming everything and everyone (but yourself) for the bad day you’re having. This is a sure-fire sign that you need to take some radical steps to slow your day down and maybe even your lifestyle if your life has come to the point where you cannot control your emotions when engaged in your ‘happy’ events.

Slowing down means you’ll have a happier day, enjoying hot weather at Witches Quarry, Lancashire

 

So, what can you do to gain some time and improve your mood? Spending more time outside in nature generally does the trick for me. It’s important too that I’m alone as it’s in these precious moments that I spend a lot of time reflecting and even meditating (as best I can) to regain control. I will even journal a little (I use Day One as I can use it on iPhone, iPad or laptop and it syncs perfectly) – it takes nothing more than a minute or two to take a photo of the landscape and type a few words about how you feel and plans for the future.

Slow your crag day down massively. This is trickier, especially if it’s a few hours after work and you’re desperate to get that project sent. I have experienced real benefits to my state of mind when I do this – my friends and climbing partners are keener to go climbing with me because I’m making a conscious effort to talk to them about all sorts of things. As the day progresses the conversations move deeper into all sorts of topics – I’ve even begun to be brave enough to discuss politics! But mostly we discuss climbing trips, training plans, kit and all the other interesting things climbers talk about.

Practice Mindfulness – I know this is a bit of a buzzword and I’ve found it very difficult at times but it gets better the more I practice it. If you are new to Mindfulness then it’s the practice of being in the present, not worrying about what may or not happen in the future or analysing what should have happened in the past but enjoying the moment. Climbing is perfect for this – it’s a ‘flow’ activity after all. It’s amazing though how issues can seep in throughout the day, planning tomorrow's work schedule; analysing that argument you had with your partner the day before or even planning that future climbing trip. All these ‘mind games’ can affect your performance and the enjoyment of your day out. You’re out climbing to switch off and be more relaxed, aren’t you? So why wouldn't you just take the time to enjoy what’s happening now. Take plenty time to sort and check your kit, make sure your climbing shoes are clean, enjoy your food and the company you are in. All these little acts of Mindfulness will help you slow down.

Slowing your life down will have great benefits for both your climbing and your life. I know that goes against the cultural grain but the rewards will be worth it and with just a few small changes to how you approach your training, climbing days and adventures you too can begin to #slowlydoesit.

Happy adventures!

 

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