Wednesday, 26 August 2020

 Climbing in Croatia

After months spent training at home I finally had the opportunity to travel this summer! As someone who is very used to living out of a suitcase going between comps, the prospect of spending summer at home did not fill me with joy, so when some mates asked if I wanted to join them on a climbing and scuba diving trip to Croatia, I didn’t hesitate to book my ticket. Paklenica may not be as well known as some other European sport climbing destinations, but it certainly has a lot to offer.

I have always focused primarily on indoor climbing, following a busy training schedule which over the years has given me little time to get outdoors. However, with the competition season as good as cancelled this year, I’ve spent lockdown transferring my skills to rock. Before going to Paklenica, all my trips have been performance focussed-not what you’d exactly call a ‘holiday’, but rather an opportunity to show how my training had paid off. For this trip I decided to adopt the mindset of wanting to climb hard, but not letting this get in the way of simply having fun. I love competing, but a break from such a high-pressure environment was definitely needed.

The first couple of days were a shock to the system; in such high temperatures I adjusted my ambitions and mentally prepared myself for not sending anything hard. However, spending a rest day scoping out cool climbs reignited the desire in me to push my limits. Hram, a natural archway hidden away from the main path, immediately caught my eye and I decided to get up at 5am the following day to make the most of slightly cooler conditions.

Hram in all it's glory

Admittedly it wasn’t the easiest to get out of bed but once I was at the crag I knew I had made the right decision and within 15 minutes of arriving I had flashed my first 7c+/8a (without a warm up-yes, I got stupidly pumped). With this under my belt I knew I couldn’t leave without trying the hardest route in the arch-Mrakan (8a). To my disappointment, this one didn’t go down as easily and after a couple of attempts I realised it was getting too hot for me to have a good attempt. Luckily, my mate Jack had found his own project and was keen to return the following day at the same time for better conditions.

Post-flash of Funky Shit (7c+/8a)

Waking up the next morning was a lot harder. I was sore, tired and doubting my ability, knowing that if I didn’t send that day, I would likely have to wait for another trip to Croatia. A few attempts in I had lost skin and the day was only getting hotter. Despite this, I managed to flip my increasingly negative mindset after watching Jack top his first 7a. The following go I was clipping the chains knowing that I had overcome a mental barrier I had placed on myself.

Working the moves on Mrakan (8a)

Unfortunately, with only one more day of climbing, my skin was in no position for trying anything harder, but I was able to leave Paklenica happy and ready for a well-earned rest week scuba diving with the boys. Reflecting on the trip, I feel more confident on rock and ready to project some routes in UK once I’m allowed out of quarantine. Thanks to Wes, Jack and Luke for making it such a fun holiday!

Full crew after qualifying as Open Water Divers


Thursday, 9 April 2020

Lessons from the Lock-Down

So as you all may have noticed, I haven’t written on this blog for a long time, mainly due to the fact that I’ve been focusing on my studies at uni. With the very weird situation going on, I’ve decided, as I’m sure many others have, to rekindle an old hobby-blog writing!
As someone who is used to and enjoys a very regimented, busy training schedule (and life in general), I have struggled to adapt my lifestyle but I feel that in the days that have already passed I have learnt some lessons about myself and the way I live. My family home is in London, but I decided to stay in student halls in Leeds during this period as my family and I felt that travelling to the hub of the virus didn’t seem to make sense at this time and, being the outdoorsy person that I am, I felt it would be better for me psychologically and physically to be near larger green spaces for my single daily exercise. I miss my parents and sister, but I also appreciate the time I have spent getting to know myself! Below is a list of things I have learnt from being in isolation so far; I would be interested to hear if others feel a similar way or have had very different experiences.
Endurance training around the table has become part of my regular training schedule!
(and no, I don't eat off this table anymore)

·        If you want to train, you can almost always find a way
I say ‘almost always’ because I don’t want to claim that I have experienced all scenarios where people want to train. What I mean by this point is that you don’t need a lot of space and equipment to stay fit and strong. I am definitely guilty of scrolling through Instagram stories of other’s home boards (nothing against this, all respect to those who have put the time and money into making their own facilities) and feeling helplessly envious because in halls this is simply not an option for me. However, I have found creative ways to push myself and am a firm believer that attitude to training plays as great a role as equipment.
·        Life is not all about climbing!
Wow, revelation. But seriously, before all this happened, I thought I would go crazy if I couldn’t get to a climbing wall for more than a few days. It’s true, I’ve been climbing tables, levering off my desk and hiding in cupboards, which may well seem like attributes of someone who has lost their marbles. However, I have found so many other ways to have fun-cooking, juggling (or in my case just dropping things on the floor), doing yoga, to list a few-and am appreciative of having some time away from the pressure of performance in training and competing.
·        Human contact is valuable
Yup, I think my whole life I’ve been underrating the importance of seeing others face-to-face. When you do a lot on your own (training, studying etc.) I think it’s very easy to take for granted the fact that you can take a break at your convenience and see whoever you want, whenever you want. Now that the highlight of my days is spending the evenings with the two people I live with, I have come to realise quite how valuable it is to have company.
·        Spending time by yourself is also kinda cool…
By this, I mean time spent doing nothing other than relaxing and thinking. I think in modern society there is a lot of pressure to always be working towards something-achieving goals, meeting deadlines, looking after others etc. I know I’ve never dedicated much time to just reflecting on my own thoughts and ideas, but it turns out it’s a pretty good way to kill some time. It took me a few days in quarantine to realise that I don’t need to be constantly training and trying to maintain peak-level performance standards.
If you’ve read this far, I hope you feel it was time well spent and have a few more ideas/questions to think about whilst in lock-down.
Stay healthy and happy everyone 😉