You Have to Suffer

You Have to Suffer
Taken in Arco, Italy

I’ve spent a lot of time over the years, thinking about what it means to be a professional athlete. Apart from the basics of diet and training, I’m moreover intrigued by what’s going on upstairs. There’s something special about a person that will devote every waking moment to becoming as good as they possibly can be at a sport, and there’s undoubtedly something significant to be learned here that can be applied to nearly every domain of our lives.

Since 2017, I’ve specialized as a boulderer. I love having the ability to go all out and not have to (necessarily) worry about conserving energy. It’s just about getting to the top. While there’s nothing I dislike about my training, deep down I’ve always known that I’m ignoring something big as an athlete, and that’s endurance.

A big part of why I’ve been so content with bouldering is, admittedly, the fact that I don’t really have to train endurance. I remember so vividly the moment I decided to ditch rope climbing: it was finals at the Youth National Championships and I was about to start the route. I looked up at the long climb ahead of me and thought to myself, “This looks like a lot of work.” I was so unmotivated to climb the route that I fell early and took 8th, the last place in finals.

Quitting seemed like a good decision at the time, and I’m still glad I had four years to focus on movement training and strength, but still - how dare I quit something just because it’s hard. Endurance was always a tedious part of my training cycle. Towards the end, I didn’t even train it, I just showed up to the competitions. It was a sort of mental laziness on my part. Endurance was something that I could never quite psych myself up to do properly. It’s just so painful. But this is something I can no longer have weighing on my shoulders; not just because I’ve decided to return to rope climbing, but because I truly want to be a world-class athlete.

And world-class athletes don’t let go until their body does.