Little Victories

Each day is progress, one less creak in the fingers, a tighter core, a lighter body, a stronger mind. Its starting to feel possible now, still a long way off, but possible. I'm three weeks into my conditioning phase of my return to climbing, I've learnt my lessons from past failed attempts - take it slow, take it easy, go with the way your body feels now, not how you think it felt back then. Yesterday was my first day of climbing two days in a row, that's a victory how ever small - two weeks ago my skin was wailing and feet could barely take the pain.

Things are different now.

I moved through my circuit, taking out holds, changing problems, despite it being my second day on I was starting to flow and it felt easier than the day before.  My body felt tight when I needed it to be, stopping dead whenever I cut loose. I'm not sure there is another sport other than gymnastics where you need to use all your body muscles in unison, creating tension throughout - and it has taken time to return to me. As I pulled through a couple of sloping problems something else happened, my fingers slipped naturally into the half crimp position, putting force straight through the hold. It's a strange thing, a tiny part of climbing but it makes an unbelievable amount of difference and it wasn't natural to me when I first started doing it many years ago. It came from finger training and climbing with people much stronger than me, its a learned behavior that needs finger stability and strength and opens up a whole new world of possibilities and it was back.

As I pushed on through my circuit and back down through the grades my climbing felt easier and more fluid, I finished strong but tired - this was the feeling I'd craved in a while. The knowledge my body was working as one and progressing. Kickstarting my last ten days of conditioning, taking solace in the little progressions now its time to steadily up the intensity before hitting bouldering at the start of next month. 

It's on.


Neal Mann

New York City