WE ARE A COMMUNITY
We are all Pure Climbing and together we can support each other.
While at first sight, the COVID19 situation does not seem to affect our lives too drastically in comparison to those in a worse situation, it is important not to underestimate isolation or the feeling of being lost with the unknown. I think it is valuable to discuss this.
I have experienced less energy every day and feel some pressure on myself right now. The less energy, I recognize as a normal reaction to a lack of excitement and future perspectives, I’ve had this before in moments of doubt. Returning from an exciting trip, finishing studies, moments when I had questioned my purpose or direction in life. The pressure I realize comes from the idea that I have to use this time to reinvent myself right now! And while I do enjoy this time to reconsider my goals, it has to come naturally, just like happiness. You cannot force these, and it’s important to know we all have ups and downs. It’s a matter of accepting these moments and living them day-by-day. The more I try to force it, the longer I will have to wait for some extraordinary illuminated moment.
Making a routine in my daily life has helped me right now; I have used training for this. Don’t understand me wrong; I’m not happy every day because I train, though. There are days I feel sad or like shit, but having a task right in front of me to focus on helps.
I want to share this because I think lots of us have these struggles, but you’re not alone; we are together as a climbing community.
As climbers, we go to great lengths to adjust our lifestyles to fit in climbing, to progress, and to have fun. And as a brand, we go to great lengths to help you safely progress in climbing and have fun.
We recognize that climbing can create challenging situations, which can be difficult to discuss;
these circumstances can even affect our lifestyle, health, and wellbeing.
With our athletes, we want to open the discussion around these challenges.
We hope these insights will help our community talk more openly and also help to inform others
that you are not alone with your challenges or experiences.
We are all Pure Climbing, and together, we can support each other.
Body image, eating disorders, self-confidence all of this is intertwined. I have spent my entire life working through different forms of self-worth or maybe better said, self-love.
As a little girl I was very shy, my first passion – horse riding gave me a massive boost in confidence. This confidence, though, was tied to being good (the best) at something but in my life this remained only connected to horse riding, I developed a ‘split personality’. This feeling of discovering self-worth carried over into climbing, and later as I pushed myself further, it led to eating disorders. I was only content (happy with myself) when I was physically, mentally, or emotionally destroyed.
I cannot remember when or why, but at some point I realized how self-destructive I had become and that something needed to change... I informed myself in depth about eating disorders, and this knowledge helped me slowly step out of this cycle. However, addressing the underlying issue and learning to love myself for who I am, not just for what I can do, was the most challenging - this is something I continually work on. It is difficult to share these darker sides of ourselves, yet I think it is important to let others in and to accept ourselves for who we are... No one is perfect, yet we are all wonderful because of our imperfections!
Despite suffering several injuries over the last ten years, I’m always surprised at how quickly and deep depression can set if you are not expecting it. When things look bleak, and pain is a near-constant friend, it can be hard to imagine life feeling good again. Climbing, something that used to bring you peace, comfort, and joy transforms into pain and sadness, and a reminder of everything you are missing. It is easy to tell yourself that it will get better, maybe you have even experienced this before and know firsthand, but acknowledging this or believing it overtime can get harder and harder. Take this time, though, as an opportunity, a time to do things that interest you but have been hard to fit in around your dedication to climbing.
The important thing is not what you do, but why you do it. Filling your mind with positive thoughts and feelings can only help your body on its journey towards healing. I want to share this because I think it’s important to hear that you aren’t alone if you are experiencing these feelings of injury and recovery depression, I know for me hearing others talk about this was helpful.
I became a mum, and my focus changed. Or maybe it was my perception of quality climbing time changed. At the beginning, I had ideas of sitting a baby to nap while James and I focused on routes for a bit of time. The reality is different, though. A considerable part of my brain continually cares about my little one, and this takes a lot of the mental space that I previously had to focus on climbing.
Behind the layer of climbing focus, my mind is constantly turning to how the baby is doing, and now that he is walking, is he somewhere safe, or has he put something dangerous in his mouth? As a result, every route, every boulder that I get to do, is a treasure. I savor it. It is like chocolate – chocolate is enjoyable because you only have a little square (or a few) each day. But those few pieces are what makes it delicious.
I feel like it is important to share this because, at times, it has been frustrating see my climbing limited. But as I recognized that I was enjoying the quality of my time over the quantity, I came to realize I hadn’t lost my climbing at all. I would hope other mums can find that shift in their climbing as well.
I know this probably sounds obvious as I get out loads, but through all of this current COVID-19 situation, I have found it interesting to discover just how connected to the outdoor space I am, how much of a motivator it is for me. The lack of access to the bigger outdoors has massively hit my motivation; it has been a big slap in the face. Usually, I’m a bundle of energy, and you can’t drag me away from endless training. Training has never been a chore or something I had to push myself to do. But, now, the lack of availability to go and do “the real thing” has made training forced. The main thing that’s getting me through this is the knowledge that it won’t be forever; there’s light at the end of this tunnel.
I’m not sharing this to complain, I want to share it as I know lots of us are hard on ourselves for not having the drive we are used to, or feeling like we aren’t living up to our friends continued blast of at-home training.
When I started climbing, I had no idea how it would affect my expectations about body image. I was 13 years old and I didn’t care much about how I looked. I had always been a super active kid and this shaped my body from a young age.
It was only after entering the French National team and starting my competition career that body image became a topic. I couldn’t help notice the skinny girls around me, who also happened to be the ones winning all the time. It seemed to develop like a real trend, inevitably sneaking into my mind, creating an eating disorder. For many years I carefully monitored my weight and often under ate although my trainings were exhausting.
Thankfully this never turned into anorexia simply because I couldn’t do it. Deep down it felt wrong and I couldn’t put my body through such suffering. It was through medical tests (BMI, body fat rates) and my own behavior towards food – feeling guilty to eat “normal” amounts – that I was able to recognize what was happening.
Today, I still feel the ”demons” of the past. But I have proven to myself that even being a little heavier and eating what my body was asking (always healthy) I can still climb very hard and more importantly feel beautiful as a woman. I want to share this because the more I have learned to accept myself as a whole being, with age as well, the more I feel happy and at peace. I want others to know they can accept themselves as they are too.
Last year I set the goal for myself to climb Ali Baba, a 250-meter high multi-pitch route in France. I had tried some multi-pitches before, but I had yet to feel completely comfortable on the higher walls.
At first, on Ali Baba, dangling 200 meters above the ground, I felt a limiting fear from the exposure. My mental skills, which I used so well in competitions, seemed useless at these heights. I wasn't climbing like myself. I wasn't moving fluidly, and my powerful dynamic climbing style had changed to a static way of climbing where I tried to control every single move. What finally helped me was first to recognize my actual fear and stop trying to push it out of my mind. Instead, I needed to accept that it existed and know that this was okay. Through this, I found I could address the exposure. For me, that meant falling over and over again. I am glad I did, though, because, in the end, I really enjoyed hanging 200-meters above the ground. It became an amazing feeling to move confidently through the wall without thinking about height but instead focusing on the climbing.
I want to share this because I believe that fear plays an impactful role in climbing. It's okay to have fears. Try to accept them and find your way to work through them.