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Sasha DiGiulian falls and failures

Sasha DiGiulian falls and failures


In HBO's new feature film Here to Climb, Sasha DiGiulian explains that climbing is a sport where you fall, fall and fall again, and the American explores the subject further on the Mind Set Win podcast with host Lisa Ramshkat: How do you get up eight times after falling seven times?

Mind Set Win is a podcast that unlocks the winning mental tactics of elite athletes and top athletes and shows how you can apply those same strategies to your everyday life. Every Tuesday, Ramshkat will have an in-depth conversation with a new guest, and on Thursday he will be joined by York Peter Krupel, Head of Mental Performance at Red Bull Athlete Performance Centre, to go into the details of the interview.

Diguilian, 31, has been climbing since she was a child and her exploits on outdoor crags have made her the first woman to conquer some of the world's most difficult, high-grade routes.

She describes cliff climbing as like an interactive jigsaw puzzle, because there are so many sequences that need to be pieced together in your head, so your mental game needs to be just as strong, if not stronger, than your physical game, she explains to Ramshkat.

Climbing is truly a mental and physical sport, she says: the mental component, and having a strong mind, allows you to think outside the box, be more creative, assess and manage risk, and perform in extreme situations.


Regression before progress

Despite being a climber who has made many firsts on outdoor summits, DiGiulian believes mountain climbing is a sport of failure because when you attempt a difficult wall, you have a 90 percent or higher chance of falling.

As in life, the key to success is knowing how to deal with defeat, learn from it, and keep moving forward. For DiGiulian, the key to doing this effectively is acceptance.

In mountain climbing, if you don't fall or fail, it means you're not pushing yourself hard enough, she tells Ramshkat.

It is because we fall many times while playing sports that we learn how to get back up.

Sometimes we see progress as a linear expectation that we will improve every day. But that isn't always the case. Sometimes we regress before we progress.

Sasha DiGiulian (Picos de Europe, Spain)

Jan Novak/Red Bull Content Pool

In mountain climbing, if you don't fall or fail, you're not pushing yourself hard enough.

Falling and getting back up multiple times to achieve your goals requires extreme desire and dedication, plus another quality: perseverance. Cultivating perseverance both on and off the wall has been a mental tactic that DiGiulian consciously implemented throughout his career.

A technique she often uses to calm, clear her mind and get her emotions in control before heading back to the wall is to reset her breath with box breathing.

First, imagine a square box in your mind. Then think of your inhalation, holding your breath, and exhalation as lines on the box. Inhale on one side and hold the top, exhale on the other side and hold the bottom.

“Even just a four-count or eight-count can really help,” DiGiulian says. “It's something you can do with a clock, and all you have to do is close your eyes and focus, so that's what works for me.”

Sasha DiGiulian climbing on Kalymnos island

Alex Grimanis/Red Bull Content Pool


Time costs and rewards

While the breathing exercises above usually take less than five minutes, DiGiulian reveals a simple technique he uses when he's feeling unmotivated: time pressure.

If you've ever decided not to do something because you visualize it taking too long, read on because this is for you.

It all comes down to acknowledging how quickly something actually gets done, DiGiulian said. Sometimes, if you really don't want to do something, calculate how long it's going to take. Set a timer.

The schedule costs and rewards are usually very small.

Tune in to Thursday's Part B episode, where York-Peter Kluppel, Head of Mental Performance at Red Bull APC, will extract the most valuable takeaways from the interview.

Part of this story

Sasha DiGiulian Climber Sasha DiGiulian has made a career out of overcoming obstacles and achieving more than 30 first female summits.




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