How to Make Your Bad Climbing Days Better

rock climber tightening shoes

“I’m just a bad climber.”

Have you ever said this to yourself on a bad climbing day?

I remember saying to a friend after I fell that I was going to go home.

“It's just a bad day for me.”

He shrugged and said, “Some climbing is better than no climbing.”

I couldn’t argue with that. So, I kept climbing.

Stomping out whenever we don’t feel our strongest isn’t going to make us stronger. Do you know what will? Having better bad days.

What does that look like?

It looks like you taking your bad days back and owning them. Yes, I fell off the start move, but gravity doesn’t get the last word. I’m not leaving.

rock climber climbing slab boulder

Warm-up Slow

When I hop on something hard right away, I’m only hurting myself.

Some people can walk up to a climb and try hard from the start. I’m not that climber.

When I warm-up slow, I allow my body to catch up with my mind. My stiff fingers, tight hips, and cold muscles aren’t warm enough yet to do what I want yet.

Once my body is ready, I’m prepared mentally and physically for the battle. Climbing—and really any physical activity—is an uphill battle.

It never gets easier. You get better.

Try it! Fight the psych around you and ignore your friends who head over to the hard stuff 5 minutes in.

rock climbers climbing outdoors

Plan Ahead

I can’t tell you how many Mondays I wake up feeling like a potato.

It takes so much energy to get out of bed, let alone drive to the gym to climb on plastic. We’re all fairly motivated people I’m sure, but can we agree that starting is the hardest part?

Combat your lazy butt before you get to the starting line. Plan for it. You can’t predict HOW motivated you’ll be next week.

So, schedule accountability.

Figure out your best days for climbing a week in advance and send out those invites.

“Hey, I know it’s ten days from now, but you wanna sport climb next Friday?” Easy. And now you have something to look forward to rather than drag yourself to.

rock climbing friends sitting on boulders

Call in Back Up

“Please please please, come climb with me right now.”

I’ve sent that text before while sitting on the pads under the boulder wall. Shamelessly call in back up. If that’s what you need to get on the wall—why not?

All it takes is good company.

When I’m on the verge of leaving right as my friend walks in the door, chances are I’ll stay. 

And when climbing next to a friend who wants you to get to the top just as much you do, it’s hard to have a “bad day”.

I’ve also found my friends who are almost done with their session as I just got there and am putting on my shoes will typically stay with a little (slightly desperate) persuasion.

rock climber climbing a steep boulder

Own it Without Excuses

Bad days feel shaky.

Big moves feel farther away and your project feels like you hit the rewind button. Your feet slam against the wall. You readjust on every jug for no reason. Your skin is on fire.

You know what’s abundant on bad days?


I’m tired. I’m hungry. It’s cold. I need to pee.

We know this doesn’t help, but we still throw up excuses without thinking once insecurity sets in.

Surely you’ve heard about the power of positive self-talk, but how often do we do it? Tell yourself that you’re the best freaking climber in the world if you have to.

If you trick your brain into boosting your ego and you might believe it enough to get to the top. 

wild flowers in nature

Take Care of Yourself

Ok, maybe you do just need to rest.

Why are you flailing? You cruised that route yesterday. You were so close to sending and thought today it’d all come together. Do you just suck?

No. You don’t.

Answering yes is the easy way out. Let’s assess the situation first.

How many days have you climbed in a row? Did you get sleep last night? When’s the last time you ate? Oh, you haven’t drank water all day? Well, you’re dehydrated.

Imagine that.

Check-in with your body before criticizing it.

You’re allowed to feel like crap every once in a while. If it becomes a growing problem, give yourself a break. 

bearded man flicking off camera

Embrace the Bad Day

You might fall off an “easy” climb today. But one day, your “harder” climb will take that easier one’s place.

Maybe you chuff off v3’s on a bad day. With time, your bad days may look like you cruising the v3’s and chuffing off a grade you never thought you’d touch.

It’s not that you can’t do it—you just can’t do it yet.

two rock climbers on top of a boulder

On your bad climbing days, don’t jump to the conclusion that you’re the worst climber on the planet. Those thoughts are lethal. They tear you down and you gain nothing.

Be nice to yourself. It’ll makes the bad days better AND bearable.

What helps you to keep climbing on your bad days? Let me know your tricks below 😊