Something that struck me recently was the revelation that some of the people I look up to the most in outdoor action sports and adventure wear kneepads.

Jeremy Jones and Travis Rice wear kneepads.

I didn’t initially think about it, but I went back and looked again and I was dumbfounded.

Some of my heroes, people that loom large over a sport and lifestyle I hold near-and-dear to my heart, wear freaking kneepads.

The profound realization hit me like a ten-ton hammer.  It was something I “knew” in the back of my head, but because of all the media I tend to consume around snowboarding, climbing, and the adventure lifestyle, details like that tended to escape conscious thought.

The issue is abundantly clear to me now: that shouldn’t have been a realization at all.  This should have been an unspoken, unbreakable truth.

Jeremy Jones, Travis Rice, Chris Sharma, Red Gerard, Eric Jackson, Alex Honnold, Tommy Caldwell, Daniel Woods.  Every single one of these names take their training, their safety, their preparation, and their lives seriously.

Jeremy Jones himself has said in multiple interviews that if he’s not absolutely sure of the conditions of a particular line, approach, or base-camp area, he’ll pull the plug on the whole damn trip.

It’s something that’s given me pause.  Even people at the absolute pinnacle of their sport have to take the time to plan, train, learn, prepare, practice.  Then, and only then, can they really execute.

And the entire reason why this is prescient at all: I’ve had to start wearing soft knee sleeves.  This past winter, I compressed and caused significant stress to both meniscus.  In an effort to let them heal and support them while I still actively train, the knee sleeves became essential.

To be honest, I’ve had mixed feelings about it.  I don’t see “the pros” or “the greats” wearing sleeves or braces–but that’s likely due to marketing and visibility than it is with any real difference in strength or skill (though that’s certainly a factor).  I’ve alternated between feeling terrible about it and understanding that it’s a necessary part of my kit now.

But knowing that even Jeremy Jones and Travis Rice need a little more support from time-to-time in the form of kneepads and sleeves makes me feel a little less bad about it.

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