To quit or not to quit… that is the question

It was the combination of a friends recommendation and this photo that made me want to try something new:

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I am pretty knowledgeable about diet and exercise. I know that to be a good runner, it’s important to practise strength training along with running to rev up your metabolism. When I’m training regularly I do this at least once a week. To keep things exciting, I’m usually up for trying something different and rock climbing seemed like a brilliant idea.

It was the classic case. The girl in this photo is clearly more advanced than I am, but surely I’ll be able to perform at an intermediate level despite not having rock climbed since I was 13 years old at summer camp. Well boy was I wrong.

I elected to try a form of rock climbing called bouldering. Not attached to a harness and rope, you basically make your way through a series of thoughtfully determined, colour coordinated routes. The routes aren’t particularly high because of the lack of harness, but usually traverse the wall quite a bit for added challenge. The goal is to only use rocks assigned to the route. And when I say rocks I mean silly little nubs with no space for gripping.

Can you guess how it went?

I was the only novice there. I decided to try out the kiddie wall for a laugh before I tried one of the beginner routes while the rest of the room watched. To my surprise, I couldn’t even do the kiddie route. After some pouting, I kept trying until I managed to get it. I was humiliated. To say it’s harder than it looks is an understatement. If I was climbing straight up, it would have been doable. But in this case, I was fully relying on my upper body strength to switch feet as I made my way across the small children’s wall.

I was there for over two hours watching an encouraging others. Every fifteen minutes or so I’d give a route a try in a less populated area. I’d maybe make it three feet off the ground before falling to the mat in frustration. My fingers hurt so bad. My thumb still doesn’t feel right. My arms hurt for over a week.

The regular climbers I went with assured me that everyone struggles their first time. If I kept at it, I would surely improve. They’re probably right. But I’ve decided to chalk this up as a learning experience rather than my latest conquest.

Do I consider myself a … quitter? Not really. I’ve never aspired to master the art of bouldering, it was just a ‘fun’ activity to switch up my routine. However, the friend that I went with was less than impressed with my attitude. Maybe I shouldn’t have given up so quickly, but I consider it a bigger crime to give up on a goal I actively pursue: to run a full marathon.  And no way am I going to let that happen!

Since my climbing experience, I switched up my routine. I’m working my arms better than ever before, and readying myself for my next experiment so I can come out feeling slightly less deflated than the rock climbing fandango of ’14. Who knows, maybe I’ll try again next year.

For those who are up for the challenge, check out your local coupon books and Groupons. Vertical Adventures in Winnipeg currently offers a 10-pack discount with over 50 % savings. I recommend trying it out once before buying a package, just in case climbing isn’t for you. On the other hand, it can also be a good motivation to keep going back to use up your pass. Whatever works for you!

Have you ever surprised yourself by failing at a new fitness venture? Did you give up or keep at it until you succeeded? Share your stories.

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