There are many reasons why we occasionally need to take a few weeks, or months, off from climbing: injury, work, exams, travel, family, ski season, or, occasionally, a general lack of psych. Coming back feeling weak and uncoordinated can be disheartening and demotivating. Who likes falling off V3 moves when six months earlier you sent your first V6? The good news is, you are capable of getting back to climbing V6 again, but only if you embrace where you are right now and get back to climbing regularly. Here are some tips for staying motivated during the process.
Accept where you are
You worked hard to reach the level at which you were previously climbing, and after a few months off, of course you’re going to have lost strength. This is just the nature of our sport. Don’t get frustrated when you can’t do moves you did six months ago. Instead, focus on what you can do, and work up from there. If V2s are now difficult again, start by trying to climb every V2 in the gym or at your local area, then worry about the V3s.
If you were previously projecting 5.12 and now 5.10 feels cruxy, set realistic goals for where you’d like to be in 3 months, 6 months, and a year. For example, give yourself 3 months to get back to sending 5.11b/c, 6 months for 5.12a, and a year to send 5.12+. Now make a training plan for how you're going to achieve those goals.
Focus on progress
While goals are important, it's also important to focus on the process—namely any progress you're making. Examples include climbing a grade harder, moving more smoothly on the rock, or getting one move farther on your current project. Even if you aren’t back to your previous level, enjoy the process of getting stronger again.
Give it time
Don’t try to jump right back into your old workout schedule your first week back. This is a recipe for injury and even more time off. While a focused training program will help you regain strength quickly, it won’t happen overnight or in a week (or even two weeks).
Climb with friends
Even if you can’t pull off the ground on a boulder problem, it’s more fun to get out with people you enjoy climbing with than to fall off problems alone. The camaraderie of working on projects with others can make the process of getting back into shape easier. You’ll probably be motivated to climb for longer periods, too.
Laugh, even when you slide off a sloper or miss a hold. You’ll feel better and enjoy the process of falling off climbs (how we get better) way more if you keep a positive attitude. You’ll also be much more fun to climb with.
Want more expert advice for getting into climbing shape? Take Climbing's 4 Weeks to Sending Fitness online course to get back to your previous climbing-self.