It was at school in a French lesson that I first came across climbing as a sport. While we Brits “joue-ed” netball, hockey or tennis, our friends across the channel were having fun at ‘escalade’ or climbing. ‘L’escalade’ became something I wanted to add when asked by my teacher what I did at the weekend because it sounded way more interesting than the reality – watched ‘Baywatch’ followed by ‘Blind Date’ and, if we were really lucky, a film rented from Blockbuster video.
Exciting times indeed.
Once school was over and I’d flown the nest, I came across climbing again as a sport. Only this time, I was actually in France, and had the chance to give it a go. While in Paris, I had a Polish friend who showed me the ropes as it were and we headed to a local climbing wall a few times. My dancing teacher, Pierre (a wonderful soul), had climbing holds in his lounge. We even did a session to inspire the choreography of a piece we put together. From rope climbing to bouldering, you could say my first introduction to the world of the wall was in Paris.
Fast forward to now and I’m growing an interest in bouldering again. Bouldering is a type of climbing without ropes, usually indoors with plenty of safety mats. You are tasked with following colour-coded holds that take you up the wall, testing your ability to move and think on the way. So, when I heard about Snow + Rock putting on an event called #RuntoRock at the new climbing centre, Stronghold, Tottenham, I jumped at the chance to be a part of it.
The benefits of bouldering
Now I’m not an expert on bouldering but from my own personal experience as a runner and the handful of times I’ve climbed over the past year, here are just some reasons why the wall complements the track perfectly.
It works you to the core
While you can tick off 10K in sub-45, the plank challenge is not your forte. Runners can have a tendency to neglect the one thing that will help them when running off-road. Climbing will soon have that sorted as you need a strong core to keep you on that wall.
As well as your entire body
Yes, your upper body will get a workout on the wall but don’t forget that strong legs are also needed to climb well. Bouldering really is an all-over body workout that uses a variety of different muscles. From your biceps and triceps to you calves and thighs, you’ll build strength and muscular endurance, which will help power your runs. And it’s more fun than the gym.
Don’t forget to be flexible
Not only will you test those muscles but climbing also tests your agility, flexibility and ability to move your body in a variety of different ways across and up the wall. You have to stretch and reach to find the next foot- or handhold.
And challenge yourself
Bouldering is all about solving a ‘problem’ on the wall. Each route is graded and it’s up to you to find your path to the top. This mental toughness that develops out of the constant challenge of taking on a new problem and not being afraid to fail and try again is something that climbing can teach a runner.
Plus relax your mind
Climbing may not be as impactful as running in terms of the constant pounding but the fact that you’re focused on one problem at a time can help relax and destress the body. In the same way that running can be meditative, climbing can help you forget about all the personal admin you still need to sort out and concentrate on one thing at a time.
Thank you to Snow + Rock for the invitation to #RuntoRock and Stronghold Climbing wall. To find out more about Stronghold, go to: http://www.thestrongholduk.com/