Rock and competition climber

Dealing with injuries

young and ambitious competing in Italy in 2011
young and ambitious competing in Italy in 2011

I think I can say that I’ve had my fair share of injuries. I’m quite young, and already had three quite big injuries. Not big as in serious, but big as in taken a long time to heal. I was 16 the first time – dislocated elbow and climbing career at risk. Second time 19 – broken foot and not too serious, I could still climb. Sort of. Third time 20 – mononucleosis and possibly very serious.

My elbow took me one year to recover from. In total. After a year I felt like I was back at the level I was, and maybe even better. I felt strong again. In the beginning I was really sad and upset. I thought my climbing career was over before it even started. I had just taken my first podium on a world championship and terrified it would just be a one time thing. My torn ligaments needed three months to grow together, so I didn’t do much for those three months apart from core training and stretching. 30 minutes bent arm and 30 minutes straight arm. Every single day. TRX training with one arm every second day. After three months I could start climbing again, and this was so hard. I have no idea how I managed to go through that. I hated every single moment of it. All I did was climb easy and all I wanted to was climb hard. But I got through it – stronger, more confident and sure of what I wanted.

Two years followed with training. I had a lot of progress and trained very hard. I finished high school and was going to spend the next year to just climb, train, compete and raise my level. I was doing the comps 100% and I was aiming towards my goals. I was suddenly a professional climber and athlete. Then I broke my ankle. Injured once again. But this wasn’t like my elbow. My climbing career wasn’t at risk. I just had to train differently and hope that it was good enough. I wanted it so bad.

When I look back now, I would say I did everything I possibly could except rest. Maybe it would have been better to rest for a month or two to heal up my foot instead of pushing it at the limit every single day. Maybe. It’s easy to be smart looking back at things. I’m happy I tried, even though I failed. When I realized this I decided to cut the season short and focus on fun and training. I needed that. What I was lacking in my preparation was quality, so that was my key word for this following year of training. Only, I didn’t get that far.

When I cut the season short I also decided to spend four weeks of rock climbing – one in Oslo, two at Kalymnos and one in Turkey. Then start training again. In Turkey I was food poisoned, like many others, but I never got my energy back. It turned out to be mononucleosis. Doc told me at least three months of doing nothing. Literally nothing. I don’t think people understand what I mean when I say nothing. After four months I started to do something again – walk, slowly and then faster and faster. Well, my second year of no school turned out to be another year where I couldn’t do what I wanted to.

With my elbow I found much comfort in training, even though it wasn’t the kind of training I wanted to do, it was better than the alternative which was nothing. I tried to find all the different exercises I could do and did them. I always had my doctors note saying «if you push too far you might never be able to extend your arm again» and I was scared at times because that meant I could never climb again. Climbing meant so much to me and I wasn’t gonna risk it all just to do a pull up or start climbing too early. I think I was pretty good at being injured at this time, but it was very frustrating. Possibly the hardest year I’ve been through so far. Not only the rehab, but the months after as well.

My foot was something different. I ignored it. Pretended it wasn’t an issue. At least after a while when I knew it wasn’t something serious. It was just painful. And pain is something you can ignore. In some kind of strange way the body knows what kind of pain you can push with and what kind of pain that is dangerous. This was the kind I could push with. So I did, and I did it for months. It wasn’t until I got sick 10 months later I rested and it finally had the time to heal up. My ankle was very frustrating for me and I’m not sure if I would recommend ignoring an injury, but ignoring pain is something I think is important. It was frustrating because I could never do what I wanted to do. I couldn’t climb outside, I couldn’t climb routes, I couldn’t climb circuits, I couldn’t do crazy moves. Everything I did had to be controlled and I hated it. I had fun in some strange way, but I also hated it. I wanted the year where I could just focus on climbing so incredibly bad and I lost it. It was also a time where I had to decide what I wanted to do next. Should I go back to school? Combine it with training, comps and trips? But there was nothing I wanted to study, and I knew that it was only because I have a world of climbing that I haven’t truly explored yet. I do want to study, and I’m looking forward to it. But I had something unfinished. So I decided to take another year off.

Now I feel happier than the other times I’ve been injured. Less frustration and more fun, even though most hours are spent doing nothing. It does feel like my life is put on hold, but I know it’s only temporary and that it will end soon. It doesn’t mean that it’s not frustrating though. I’ve been doing this for quite a while now so I feel like I’ve started to get to know my body. Usually I train so much that I’m always tired, and the only way to get through all the sessions is to ignore the fact that I’m tired. Kind of the same as ignoring pain. But that I can’t do know. I’m usually tired, but in different levels. Some times I’m so tired that all I can do is sleep, and then I do so. Luckily I’m passed that now, unless I push it too far. Not necessarily in training, but if I do too much during the day. Every day I have to really try to feel how my body is. Can I climb today? How tired am I really? The head controls so much of our emotions and if you want it, you’ll manage to convince your self that your not tired. This has been my biggest challenge. I am a master of convincing my self to believe what I want, and this is usually a good thing because it makes me push through and complete every single session. But not in this case. I have to rest and I need it to get well as soon as possible. The better I am, the faster I’ll be back.

In most cases mononucleosis is not dangerous and it doesn’t give you any long term problems, but there are so many stories I’ve heard the past year about how serious it can be. People getting chronic fatigue syndrome, people dropping out of sport and never coming back, people who spend up to years at home too tired to work. It frightens me, but it also makes me take it serious.

At some point I expect the tiredness to be a mental thing. Considering the fact that I’ve been constantly tired the last eight months you kind of expect it the next day as well, but I don’t know if I’m there just yet. It’s only three weeks ago that I fell asleep during training, what a mistake. I should not have been training that day, but some days I just can’t help it. I want it so bad! To train and get as good as I possibly can. Soon though. I know it’s very soon.

When my doctor told me I had mononucleosis I thought my world would fall apart. Going from 20 hours of training a week to 0. For several months. But it didn’t. 2015 might not be my year. I know it won’t, but I have so many things to look forward to and I’m happy to be climbing AND training again. Not as much and as hard as I would like, but I’m getting there. 2015 will be a year filled with fun, gaining experiences and taking my climbing to the next level. Let the third year of no school and (soon) with a healthy body begin!

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