Today’s Friday Five starts with a confession: On Saturday I skipped my bike workout and went indoor rock climbing.
My coach had a 25-mile bike ride, plus a 2-mile run on the training plan and it just didn’t happen. Fine, you may think that makes me not a not-so-dedicated triathlete, but sometimes you’ve got to live a little and do something out of the box. I love variety and experiencing new things, and I had a voucher to the Earth Treks climbing center that was going to expire. So hey, I decided to rock climb instead of bike.
I’ve gone once before, and had done outdoor climbing years ago in my youth. I wasn’t very good at the outdoor climbing – it takes skill and focus. I’d love to try it again sometime, but first want to experience the indoor rock climbing as much as possible.
1. Find the newbie-friendly sessions. At Earth Treks, you have to have experience in order to go rock climbing during their usual hours, plus you need someone who knows what they’re doing to belay for you (hold the safety rope while you climb). However, on weekends they have Open Climb hours, when anyone can come try it out and you’re supported by a staff member belaying. This is a fantastic way to try it safely, get tips and tricks, and have fun. I’ve been to two Open Climb sessions now and plan to go to more.
2. Wearing exercise clothes can make a difference. I know you can wear whatever you want, but I found it most comfortable to dress for a workout. Rock climbing is hard work! I exert myself, I sweat, and frankly it’s just easier to have clothes that move with me and breathe while I’m navigating the rock wall.
What about shoes? Okay, I’m sure my rock climbing form is terrible in this pic, but hey – it’s a good shot of the issues with shoes. Running shoes aren’t the best choice. I rented the rock climbing shoes one time and used my running shoes another time – what a difference the rock climbing shoes made! The toes are pointy so that you can get into crevices easier. As you can see above, the little ledges for your feet can be really small and I slipped right off in my running shoes, making it harder to get up the wall easily. You can always give it a try on the easier walls in regular running shoes, but if you want to get into it, try the climbing shoes.
3. The routes on the walls are color-coded and numbered. Learning the system of difficulty rankings can help you pick a route where you can be successful. The staff has been really helpful explaining the system of numbering to help us find the right routes up the wall for us beginners, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s a fun challenge to climb only up the color for one route, rather than using the other colored grips nearby.
4. Use your legs and your core! I learned I was relying a lot on my arms to pull me to the next level, when actually the movement should be more powerful from your legs. I have a lot to learn about technique, but I did realize that when I engaged my core, things fell into place a lot easier. A strong core can help you be more efficient in any sport or activity, and rock climbing is no different.
5. Taking a breath is perfectly okay. Let’s admit it, I look pretty badass in this photo going over this ledge:
But the story behind the scenes is this: I got a little nervous, didn’t find a place for my next hand move, and started to get stressed. Then I tensed up, my heart rate shot through the roof, and I started to feel stuck. So I sat back in the harness, relaxed, got my heart rate to come down, and then took a breath and went right up the ledge and to the top without much issue. So much of this sport is controlled by your mind!
I’m planning to take the Intro to Rock Climbing class so I can pass the safety check and go with my sister and friends at times other than Open Climb. Then hopefully an Intro to Movement class to learn how to more effectively navigate the rock wall.
Have you ever been indoor rock climbing? What did you like about it?
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