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Why I Love…. Climbing By Jenna Goddard

Saltrock Ambassador Jenna Goddard tells us why she loves Climbing.

When did you start climbing?
I started climbing in my 20’s after a birthday trip to a climbing wall. 

Was there a natural inclination in you that was present since childhood – were you always scaling huge heights and terrifying your parents?!
I don’t remember climbing much as a child, except climbing up a tree once in the woods and being terrified about getting back down again, I’ve always been afraid of heights!

Was there a moment that if the day had turned out differently you would never have become a climber?
That’s a really interesting thought! I guess if we hadn't done the birthday party I may never have discovered it! Or at very best it would have come even later in my life.

What is it about climbing that you love?
It boils down to the fact that everything you achieve is a reward from your own efforts, whether it’s a specific move requiring technique or strength, or a psychological battle with fear of heights, exposure of the climb and being out of your comfort zone. There is nothing simple about climbing, each climb builds something new. It’s a very rewarding sport because of all these challenges!
 
What’s the best thing about doing what you do?
The best thing is the feeling, I imagine its the same with most sports - you might struggle and have to put a lot of effort in some days when training feels difficult but when its right, it feels as if you’re practically dancing up the wall and your body and mind work in perfect harmony.

Is there a worst thing?
The worst thing has to be the bad training days! Everybody has them, when you’re not quite on form and even the easier things feel difficult!

What’s your first climbing memory?
After a few months of first climbing I entered a local competition and won 3 out 5 categories, I couldn't believe it! At that point I remember thinking that this is pretty cool and ‘I can do this!’ 

Why do you think the sport affected you so strongly?
The movement and the physical strength really appealed to me, I am lucky to have some great genes but I'm not a team player. A sport that is dependent on yourself that requires so much skill was perfect for me.

Why are you so good at it? Is there something in your personality that makes you so successful?
I’d like to think that I’m pretty stubborn, and I guess to an extent fearless and very committing. I will never hold back on a move, which means I am always pushing my limits.

Do you have a stand out climbing moment?
No particular moment stands out above others. There are so many occasions that I’ve been stunned by my performance as if someone else has taken over and been in control in both training and competitions, they are all pretty equal to me! 

Has there been a low point?
Of course, there are several aspects of climbing that all need to come together to achieve a good performance. So when physically you are not on form, or mentally you are struggling it becomes really difficult to pull it all together. When this lasts for a few weeks I really struggle, I’ll beat myself up for performing so badly so mentally I’m even more worn which has a direct effect on physical performance too, it can be a vicious circle! BUT… when you come back out of this phase and climbing is going well its perfect! 

Would you recommend other people get into your sport? Why?
Absolutely, there are so many challenges to face that make it such a great sport! Everyone will achieve things they didn't think they’d be able to do, no matter what your ability is, and the climbing community is great, the amount of encouragement for all levels is outstanding. We all started somewhere and we can all feel and understand other’s success and personal triumphs!

If someone has an ambition to climb, how would you recommend he or she gets started?
Just get straight down to your local wall… NOW!!! They’ll give you a guided tour and teach you the basics and then your away, just climb and enjoy!!

What do you need to succeed?
Passion, perseverance and consistency!
 
If you weren’t a climber is there another way you can imagine earning a living?
It would have to be doing something fun, perhaps travel related. I couldn't ever imagine being in a 9-5 job again, at least not full time anyway. 

If climbing didn’t exist, is there another sport you would have concentrated on?
I really wish I had carried on with gymnastics after primary school, I’d love to get into it again now. If I could never climb again I would start gymnastics, probably compete in Olympic lifting and indulge in snowboarding as my partner is really keen on that.

Have you had any serious injuries?
I’ve been lucky to avoid all serious injuries to date, my shoulders involuntary dislocate because I am pretty hyper mobile so I have to be careful with them. In the beginning I did a dynamic move to a hold and my shoulder dislocated half way so when I caught the hold it really jolted my shoulder - that was extremely painful and took me out for several months but I put it down to not learning what my body was capable of and comfortable with. I’ve not had any major problems since then.

Do you have any techniques for managing your fear?
Ha, this is the best question! I try not to think about it, or at least not let it control what I do. Outdoor climbing is terrifying! It wouldn't be surprising to hear me saying ‘I’m so scared’ halfway up a route… but I’ll carry on! It’s always fine, It’s natural to be scared, it just makes me more focused on what I’m actually doing and push harder. Breathing techniques can help and staying focused is key.

If you have kids will you encourage them to get into professional sports, specifically climbing? Why?
Absolutely, I think there is so much you can learn from sports especially towards a professional level. Knowing how to look after your body is really special and realising your potential is priceless.  

Can you imagine ever quitting?
NEVER! There is so much more I want to achieve; I have only scraped the surface.

Is there anything else you can share with us about why you love your sport?
One of the best bits is that it can take you anywhere in the world and to some really beautiful and unique places. It also brings you back to nature, climbing feels very raw and pure, using your own strength and abilities to face your own fears.