Suburban Dirtbag: Week 5

 Week 5 Week 4 Week 3 Week 2 Week 1

Day 37

Fall is coming to a close, and it’s staring to get rainy here in the south for the winter. That means it’s a good time for reviewing the fall season before winter sets in in full and I start plugging gear in the depths of January.

I remember in the mid / late summer, August-ish, feeling really bummed that I (thought I) had hit a hard plateau. Since that point I’ve come a long way. By any measure I had a dang good fall season. How good? In the last 90 days I:

• relieved nealry all tendonitis in my elbows,
• train 1 - 2 hours less per week,
• raised my boulder highpoint by two grades,
• and repeated that problem.

How is this possible?

I can’t tell you that I have the magic training recipe or godlike genetics. All I can say is that I’ve racked up well over 200 ascents in 2016 and kept a very detailed training log. Perhaps more importantly, I’ve used that log to review, critique, analyze and adjust my training.

Specifically thoguht, there are a few major contributors that I think were key.

1) It starts before zero:

Before I even began “training” this fall season, I had to come to terms that I had very severe tendonitis in my elbows. However, for me this was on the opposite side of most climbers.
That is, rather than over-crimping, I was over sloper-ing. I took a whole month to readjust / correct / commit to A) shoulder mobility, B) hip flexibility, C) trigger point massages for my forearms, hands, and shoulders. Each of these were practices 3-4 times per week.

2) Assessing my performance:

(with something less arbitrary than an assigned grade). A single grade is a terrible indicator of performance due to the dependence on style and not to mention the variability of weather. After my recovery period I spent a couple weeks following R-Measure protocal, described here by Steve Maisch.

3) Actually using my training log:

A training log is useless if you don’t use it (for assessment, and adjust accordingly). Writing things down has limited value if you don’t go back and re-read it (at least for the purpose herein). Once I had an indicator (above) of whether I needed to train maximum strength or power / strength endurance, I needed to read and assess my training logs so that I was actually improving the things I needed to work on.

4) Getting serious about my weaknesses:

I have fat fingers and I’m a very stocky build by climber standards. I used to complain about those facts before just accepting that I was going to have to deal with it.
Literally, my fingers aren’t getting any smaller, and those micro crimps on ProblemX aren’t getting any bigger. So, do I want to keep complaining, or do I want to get sending? What is holding me back and what do I want to do about it? There was a time when I was happy with where denial had gotten me, but that time has passed.

5) Training smarter and harder:

I got focused about my training. I no longer bounched ad hoc from random traning plans on the interwebs. I researched training methods that would address the things I wanted to train. I picked a few specific things to try really, really hard at.

6) Training less:

I have referenced and read Steve Bechtel’s piece on doing less many times before. Yet, it felt different as it really set into my bones and, more importantly, got acted upon and implemented in my training and at the crag. This wasn’t rhetoric or (only) academic any more.

7) A word on getting too serious:

Not long ago I listened to the Power Company Climbing podcast with Arno Ilgner – which is just as awesome as you might imagine! – and in the middle of this week I found myself having fallen into one of the traps Arno describes. That is, I had become obsessed with a particular project and my entire thought process was wrapped up in the future – all the rad stories and pictures I could share after sending. All of that was sapping mental energy I could have been using while actually climbing.

Once I was able to let that go I took two days completely off, got the project send on a third or fourth attempts, rested 10 minutes or so, set up the camera, and repeated it!

I’m not sure what the winter season or 2017 will hold, but it is a very exciting time in my climbing career. It’s one of those rare, truly page turning moments where I’m left wondering, in a very optimistic way, what am I really capable of?

I’m not hodling my breath to bump two more boulder grades in 2017, but one surely seems possible. My current standing also makes me feel confident about being able to push hard on gear this coming winter, so perhaps there are some hearty gains to be made in that realm now. Of course, there’s only one way to find out!