We all want to be better climbers, better athletes, stronger, more powerful, and more fit. While training our physical abilities is crucial to pushing our boundaries, I find my mind is often the limiting factor to my success. On a recent bouldering trip in Chattanooga, I took part in the Triple Crown Bouldering competition at Stone Fort and witnessed a shockingly impressive demonstration of ‘giving it your all’. With seven bloody fingertips, one competitor kept hurling himself at the sharpest crimps you’ll find in the South. A more calculated approach with delicate footwork would certainly have better suited his cause and prevented such extreme blood donation, but I must admit, I admired the effort he put forth. As for me, I often bow out before I’ve truly given all that I have.
At the end of the day, I need to combine my own calculated approach and delicate maneuvers with the determination to try really really hard. But how do we get to that point? Here are 10 tips to ignite your fire.
- Choose an objective that motivates you. A beautiful line in a place that you love with a partner willing to support or even share in your efforts is a great place to start.
- Prepare. Make no mistake; Physical preparation for an objective is a crucial step towards success. Our bodies must be ready for the abuse we’re about to give them.
- Push yourself in a comfortable environment. Take the gym, for example. Try routes that will force you to tackle your weaknesses head on, in a controlled environment where fear, pressure, and environmental stressors are reduced.
- Fail. If you’re not falling, you’re not trying hard enough routes. While training, it’s important to push yourself to the point of failure.
- Control the variables. Get a good night’s rest before attempting your objective. Bring the proper snacks to fuel your body. Find a motivated and encouraging partner. Set yourself up for success.
- Stop whining. Temperature, humidity level, wind speed, and crowds are uncontrollable factors. No amount of complaining will fix them, so stop trying.
- Build the psych when you’re still on the ground. For some, a special song might spark motivation. For others, a moment of calm and reflection. Find what motivates you, and work it into your projecting itinerary.
- Pace yourself. Most likely, you don’t need to give 100% effort on every single move. Stay calm and relaxed but move quickly through easier sections, saving your energy for cruxes.
- Find your trigger. For me, a deep breath and mental note of “here we go!” aligns the engagement of my muscles with my mental readiness to try hard. For others, a reminder from a friend or a guttural growl might tell your body it’s go time.
- Don’t let go. In that isolated moment of trying as hard as I possibly can on a single move, every muscle fiber in my body engages at the same moment. My mind, my fingers, my core, my middle left toe, my armpit – they’re all in this together, and everyone needs to pull their weight.
In that beautiful moment when it all comes together as you lunge for that enemy hold, the one that spits you off every time, and latch it with all your might, trying hard finally clicks. As you’ll notice, the “how to try hard list” could also be read as the “how to succeed list”. Trying hard is the final step to success. It’s a difficult combination of energies to channel, but when it happens, we discover for a tiny moment that all is right in the world. That is, until we find that the next “easy” move is suddenly the new crux after asserting all our energy on the move prior. In that case, repeat 1-10. Good luck!