OUR ATHLETE JOE SWALES ON JUGGLING BEING A CLIMBER VS. BEING A STUDENT
anuary this year (2017) was one of the busiest times of my university career. Having just received my first 3 month meso from coaches Tom and Dave at Insight climbing, it was nose to the grindstone, time to get STRONGER!! However, things were not as simple as they appeared. The uni had thought it would be a giggle to throw me 6 exams (like 6 parties but full of stress and anxiety rather than beer and fun), summing to a third of my entire degree. Great. From early January my daily routine looked something along the lines of; Wake up, drink tea (thanks Nia), revise, eat lunch, revise, eat dinner, train hard, sleep. Over and over again, with next to no time to do anything social. For all of uni, I have tried to strike a balance between training, working and social life, sometimes the balance swinging in favour of some more than others. It does seem however that you cannot do all 3 well and manage to get a enough sleep to not be moody and irrational the entire time. It’s as though they say, here’s 3 things to do, pick 2. Well in January, my social life was next to forgotten. On the bright side though, my training was going great and my exams…meh 50/50. But still, on the wall, I felt good!
By the early February the exams came to a close and we had freedom at last!! However, my body was on its last legs, running on fumes and ready for a rest. Luckily for me my last week of exams was also a rest week in my training, just what I needed to restart and refresh. A big night out to celebrate the end of exams, a day watching the rugby with the family, perfect way to finish exams. Well I thought so anyway.
The day post no sleep and watching the rugby I was hit with one of the worst colds I have had in years! Generally, I would say my immune system is pretty good but right now, it was in tatters. Throwing in the 3 component of the triangle and removing sleep had hit hard. I was bed bound for 3 days and although I could move around after this, I still felt lethargic and battered, the easiest tasks becoming the biggest effort in the world. After a week I was back on the wall, though it wasn’t quite how I’d remembered it. Things that felt easy before were now hard, really hard. This feeling didn’t leave for nearly 2 weeks, although I felt better, my body was still catching up, still tired, still recovering. It was frustrating.
So, where are we now? Well, I’m no longer trying to juggle everything at once, I won’t be making that mistake for a while. The biggest lesson from this was to listen to my body. Before I’ve always had the mentality of, “well, it’ll probably be fine” and for the majority it has been. But for now I’ll be on the side of caution (must be getting old..). Also, CWIF, one of the best comps of the year is in a week and a half and this should be mega. This year the line-up is insane! The semis and finals are likely to look like that of a world cup rather than your local bouldering comp. This being said I’m still looking forward to putting my recent training both physical and mental to the test, to see how I feel in my climbing compared to previous years and previous comps. Should be a good one.