The Question of Passion

Climber looking at her hands

People often question whether I enjoy training. After all, training takes up the majority of my athletic life. If you don’t enjoy training, you can’t possibly enjoy being an athlete, and if you don’t enjoy being an athlete, “Why are you doing it?”

People aren’t just pulling this question out of thin air. If they see me at the gym, they often see someone that takes everything too seriously and puts too much pressure on themselves. They see someone that only cares about winning.

And I do feel like that a lot of the time. When I’m climbing, the only thing on my mind is whether I’m making progress or not. I don’t climb something because it looks fun or mess around on new problems. I’m desperate to avoid a “casual climbing session” and aim my sights only at deliberate practice. The high-standard for my training sessions is imperative to maintain, which means that I have an obligation to show up for training every single day, no matter what.

When I’m not climbing, I’m doing strength and conditioning. Sometimes it looks like cardio out by the hills, other times it’s weightlifting. If you can believe it, I take this part of training even more seriously than my time on the wall. Being a national champion is one thing, but a world champion is another. To truly make a mark on the world stage, you have to do something better than everyone else. Whether you’re the most technical climber, you’re faster on the wall, or you’re mentally indestructible, something needs to stand out. I’ve known this for over six years, so whenever I step foot into the weight room, my goal is to become the strongest athlete on the circuit.

A merely good day earns me a silver medal. I have to keep pushing and prove to myself that I want it more than anyone else, and I have to do it everyday. In the gym, on my dinner plate, at night. There’s no room to kick back and coast, no taking a month to just mess around. It’s kill or be killed, first place or last place.

That can’t be fun. The pressure must eat me alive. The repetition must blur your days together. What about enjoying the process? What about passion?

If you’re asking that question, you must not be paying close enough attention.

Passion is a big part of being a successful athlete. But sometimes passion isn’t obvious to the casual observer. Yes, sometimes passion lies in the task directly at hand; The climbing, the weight lifting, the running. But other times, and often more intensely, passion lies in the bigger picture.