Perpetual underachievement. What does that mean? Surely there comes a point where your actual potential is better represented by your track record than by what you perhaps thought you had the potential to achieve? Perhaps that potential was a mistake? How many years can a “good” climber still fail to do anything “good”? At what point do they become a “bad” climber?

This sounds ever so serious, and perhaps somewhat bleak, but I can assure you this is not my attitude or current state of being! The British Bouldering Championships were at the weekend and I was there to try my luck. I’ll be the first to admit, I didn’t exactly do a lot of training in the last couple of months for this competition. I was struggling to sleep at night and in constant pain, so thoughts of training hard weren’t exactly at the forefront of my mind.

Returning from Sonar and having 4 days of training before the competition, it would obviously make no difference to my overall state of strength but it allowed me to practice a few of the things that always come up in big comps (like double dynos!). On Thursday I was climbing at the wall, feeling pretty good and feeling as though my shape was perhaps not as bad as I had feared. Then I pulled on to another bloc and suddenly my middle finger was exceptionally painful in a crimped position. Hmmm. I’d just done another bloc and felt fine, not felt anything pull or tweak, and now it was too painful to hold on. Not really understanding how it had happened, I decided to get it on ice. The next morning it was obvious that my finger was tweaked, as putting it in even a half crimped position and loading it even very gently was painful all around my second joint. Great timing. I was a bit annoyed but also very bemused. I wasn’t annoyed because of the upcoming competition, but because I’m sick of going from one injury to the next. I was just starting to feel like my snowboarding injury was subsiding and now I have a finger tweak. I know it’s not serious and a bit of rest and ice will probably fix it in a couple of weeks, but it’s so frustrating. I haven’t been able to climb continuously since last year!

I decided I may as well head up to the BBC’s as it is a good excuse to see some friends and after warming up I’d decide whether or not to do the comp. On the day it was hurting, but after warming up it hurt less whilst climbing. It seems to be the case that if I warm up thoroughly then it doesn’t hurt too much to climb on but it does then hurt afterwards (which probably isn’t a good sign).

I had expected the BBC’s to have the normal array of weird problems, many volumes, and many odd moves that I find so hard. I knew I would struggle with them, but at least they wouldn’t be bad for my finger. What I saw was the total opposite. Every single problem featured crimps. A crimp here, a crimp there, a crimp everywhere. It was ridiculous to be honest. The winner would definitely be the person who could crimp the hardest, and I knew without a shadow of a doubt that it would not be me. I didn’t even know if I would be able to do the easy ones! I tried though, and in the end I was somewhat expectedly disappointed with my 16th place result. I don’t know why I was disappointed, because I went there not knowing if I would be able to climb and I did manage that. But I don’t measure my satisfaction on that, I measure it on what I know I could and should be achieving. Then again, maybe that is a ludicrous way to do it.

I hate being bad at something. I don’t hate it because it means I am worse than someone else, far from it. It has nothing to do with anyone else and everything to do with me knowing that I’ve tried my hardest. I know that if I try my hardest at something then there is no way I will be bad at it. That may sound ever so slightly arrogant, but I think it’s true. If you want to be good at something, and you are willing to put in the effort then you will eventually be good at it. Therefore, if you aren’t good at something which you want to be good at it stems from laziness, and I loathe laziness. I know that I’ve been battling injury and that for me is frustrating. I just want to be fit again, climbing well, pulling as hard as I can without pain. I know that time will come but for the moment I’m in a rut of frustration.

For now, I’m not frustrated because I did badly in a comp, I’m frustrated because I want to go out on real rock and climb some cool stuff, but having fingers which hurt is a nuisance. I want to make the most of being in Bristol this summer and check out places which I’ve never been like Ansteys Cove, Pembroke, and Portland. I don’t want to go and punt it up though.

The outlook is still positive, as it always shall be. I know this odd finger injury will soon pass and I’ll be able to go climbing without pain or hesitance. Hopefully then I can find my flow and start swimming with the current instead of against it.

“I don’t remember the games I won, only the games I lost” – Boris Becker