Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Probably my worst character trait is that I don't remember the bad times. This doesn't just go for climbing, it goes for everything, but because I seem to get into these cycles of strength followed by misery a lot when it comes to climbing, I feel the need to document the phenomenon as a cautionary tale to myself.

To make a long story short, the last month or so has been one of misery. It all began with an overzealous traverse-bouldering session over lunch on a weekday. Someone walked into the gym and wanted to take a belay test, so I offered to help. I was halfway through my workout, so by the time I was done helping with their test I'd cooled down. I figured I'd better get warm again, so I ended up climbing, by myself, longer than usual. I gave up because at some point I was doing a weird move on the bouldering wall and my shoulders felt tweaked. I figured, OK, I've gone longer than usual, maybe I'm tired, I should quit. And I did. In the next few hours the most horrific pain ever congealed all over my shoulders, back and neck. It was massive, it was burning and it was AWFUL! I credit my own stupidity for what turned out to be a massive multi-muscle cramp: not bringing a water bottle, and therefore not hydrating during the whole session, and the longer-than-usual session. Tsk tsk, I should have known better.

I hammered myself on ibuprofen, went to the doc, got 4 weeks of PT and generally did things right, and I'm fine now. Fine meaning pain free. But the process was miserable, and where I am now is miserable. I hadn't worked out nearly enough since the move in December (and the NSF meeting in January, and parents visiting in February ... you get the picture), but this forced break ... well it broke me. All those gains in upper body and finger strength are gone. All that pre-December confidence is gone. I now hurt in 4 places after climbing. I need more ice-packs than I have! And the fact that all I have at my disposal to train back up is the UCSB gym, whose dissertation-related cooties I haven't gotten over... that just adds to my misery. I hate how small that gym is, because I get bored too fast when I'm traversing on my own. I hate how the routes there are set -- I need to write up my route-setting rant someday. I hate the pace that having to tie in with a figure 8 enforces (i.e. it slows me down between climbs and my muscles never get hot enough). I guess you could say I'm down in the dumps right now. I hope it's some sort of post-parent winter blues ;-)