I’ll make this short and mostly directed at people who are interested in injuries and perhaps have a shoulder injury themselves.
In October I started climbing again. I was loving it and rapidly went from 5b to 7b+. However I think my psyche for climbing was clouding my judgement and lowering my pain threshold. My shoulder wasn’t actually doing very well because I didn’t have full range of motion and I was climbing on it all wrong.
I was traveling too much to see one physio consistently and this was a big error. Between October and now my location in space looked like this: Chamonix, Spain, UK, States, UK, Chamonix, Spain, Poland, Spain and now back in the UK.
Jonathan Thesenga photo of me at Lizard Wall in Tennessee
Why did I travel so much? Part of it was wishful thinking, or rather under estimating the recovery period. I thought that as soon as I started to climb, everything would fall in to place, when in actual fact that’s when the real work starts. If you just start climbing normally everything falls apart because of course a shoulder which has been atrophying for 5 months with no range of motion isn’t going to climb like a normal shoulder. There is also all the mental residue something like an operation leaves. When you can’t even lift a plate of food for a month, that sticks in your mind.
It was great to spend a week with Arno Ilgner in the states talking about mental training for climbers
Another reason why I planned to travel was that I love it. I can’t seem to stay still. Traveling too much is actually something I complain a little bit about but in reality as soon as I’ve been in one spot for a few weeks I feel like it’s time to leave. Especially when that spot is a rainy UK city in winter. It’s not like I really want to leave and then go, it’s more like I get an idea or a pull to be somewhere and before I know it I’m packing my bags. I also find it so hard to turn down opportunities. If someone asks me to speak or do some coaching somewhere interesting I find it hard to turn down. I also end up staying places for a while in order to make the most of the traveling.
I do know though that if I’d stayed in Sheffield for the whole recovery period and seen one physio consistently, I’d probably be climbing 8b right now, instead I’m climbing 7b+. Luckily this year I’ve become stronger at accepting things. This shoulder represents many ‘regrets’ for me in the sense that knowing what I know now I would have done things differently (like getting the operation a year sooner) but there is absolutely no sense in engaging in that kind of thinking especially when you consider all the other things I’ve done instead. Moreover, when I think about the amount of time and energy and money I’ve dedicated to this shoulder a few more months not climbing 8a isn’t really a big deal. What I care about are the next ten years.
Also amazing to get to go to Poland’s Gorski Festival, Karakow - best festival ever?
And where am I at now? The pain and frustration came to a head at the BD athlete meet in Siurana in early December where I realised I’d only climbed 4 days in 6 weeks. I was back to square one! I knew I had to make some lifestyle choices and pay more attention to the rehab. I could either post up in sheffield for the winter or try and make it work in Spain. Luckily two men have saved me from a winter in the UK. Pablo Scorza is an amazing physio based near Siurana and Jared Vagy who has been helping me with strengthening exercises remotely from the States. So far their help has been really beneficial and I seem to be back on the right track!
So the plan is more van time in Spain (because it’s ace) and then live in Barcelona for a month, take Spanish lessons and be a real person who climbs in the gym in the week and outside at the weekends.
I love van life because you have time to think and the freedom to find quiet places
And eggs for breakfast!
gOOD CHOICES IF A LITTLE LATE!
THANK YOU FOR YOUR INSPIRING WORDS ABOUT YOUR HEALING TIME AND CARING MORE ABOUT THE LONG TERM THAN FOR YOUR SHORT TERM GOALS. I’M CURRENTLY SIX WEEKS FROM MY SLAP REPAIR SURGERY AND COULDN’T BE ANY MORE ANXIOUS ABOUT GETTING BACK ON THE ROCK (I JUST GOT THE OK TO TAKE THE SLING OFF). I’VE KNOWN FOR A WHILE THAT THIS WILL BE AT LEAST A 6 MONTH RECOVERY BUT I HAVEN’T LET IT SINK IN FULLY. KNOWING YOUR STORY AND THE PROCESS OF HAVING TO RE-DEDICATE YOURSELF WITH PHYSIO IN ORDER TO GET BACK ON TRACK IS HELPING ME TO SEE CLEARLY ABOUT MY OWN PROGRESS. IT’S NICE TO HAVE SOMEONE SEVERAL STEPS AHEAD IN THE PROCESS WHO HAS DOCUMENTED THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY OF IT ALL. SO AGAIN, THANK YOU!!! BEST WISHES TO YOU IN YOUR GOALS AND THE UPCOMING YEAR.