By Sevve Stember
As summer approaches, my mind shifts from snow sports (specifically nordic skiing) to climbing, trail running, and biking.
But that’s putting it all too simply. The changing of the seasons is always really meaningful, a natural opportunity to reflect on growth. In my professional, personal, and athletic life, I am always pushing myself to find and see growth within myself. Just as the trees stop growing during the winter as the snow flies, there are also periods where I see less growth than I’d like to. I think this is a fact of life that we all have to deal with. However, spring brings us a yearly reminder that we are all capable of fantastic and beautiful feats.
I use the desire to always be my better self to fuel my seasonal and annual athletic pursuits. Below are some of the ways I prepare to do so this summer.
I keep a journal/training log of my daily workouts. This allows me to hold myself accountable for getting outside or working out. The training log also allows me to compare my weekly, monthly, and yearly accomplishments to prior years. In doing so, I can push myself to log more hours on skis, climb harder routes, compare to what I’ve done in the past. It’s a really fun way of tracking my progress towards a goal. In my training log, there’s also a section that I dedicate to setting goals. I often set monthly, seasonal and yearly goals. Goal setting is a super-powerful method of motivating yourself and improving your own personal bests. Once the goals have been set, identify three action steps that will help you make progress towards your goals.
I recently went to the world-famous bouldering venue in Bishop, CA.
This was my first trip to Bishop and I was stoked out of my mind! I eagerly threw myself at boulder problem after boulder problem, and unfortunately I did not warm up properly. On the ultra-classic problem “Suspended in Silence”, you start off with an all points off dyno (a climbing move where you jump into the air). On my first attempt, I stuck the move. The next move involves a heel hook while using a crappy left hand hold. Unbeknownst to me, the left hand hold had recently broken, making the problem much harder than advertised. Refusing to believe that I couldn’t complete the problem, I torqued harder and harder on my heel hook. The result was – you guessed it – a loud “pop!” in my hamstring.
In the following days, I had trouble walking and was really sore. Fortunately, I’ve recovered quickly, but it was a good reminder that as summer approaches we must remember that easing back into our spring and summer activities is required to normalize our body/muscles to new stimuli. Take time to stretch, warm up properly, and ease back into your normal workout routines.
Summer weather literally means more direct sun rays hitting the Earth, and therefore your skin. To account for this seasonal change, I always carry chapstick in my climbing pack. Additionally, being really fair skinned, I always wear a hat outdoors; it helps keep harmful rays off my skin. Another strategy that I use is to always wear long sleeve shirts, when temperature dictates. When warmer, I always make sure to at least wear a short sleeve shirt. But I’ve found that the latest UPF 50+ fabrics don’t rely on density for their sun protection and can actually keep you cool even directly in the sun. It’s just not worth exposing my bare back to the sun, no matter how hot it may be. Lastly, a supply of UVA/UVB sunscreen in my car and climbing pack is an essential that I never leave without.
It is so exciting to be on the threshold of another training, running and climbing season in the Rocky Mountains. I’ve got some big goals for the year: climb 5.13a, boulder V8 and V9, climb the Red Dihedral in Yosemite National Park, and trail run 20+ miles per week. To reach these goals, it’s going to take discipline, prudence, and using the right gear.
In the coming weeks, I’d encourage everyone to sit down and ask yourself “What do I want from this summer? What is something I’ve always wanted to accomplish, but not hard the time/energy/etc. for?” Once you’ve answered these questions, apply some of the strategies outlined above and see your own personal progress becoming a reality. But most of all, just get outside, smile, and have fun!
Sevve Stember is a climbing expert and multiple-sport athlete who has established climbing routes in the Andes, the Sierra Nevadas and several other mountain ranges. A former park ranger, Sevve also pursues camping, soccer and cross country skiing. Sevve is a 6th-grade science teacher at Cole Middle School in Denver, Colorado. He lives there with his wife, Andrea, also an accomplished cross country skier. His previous posts for Coolibar include “Why Climbing Matters.”