Catching up with my coach

On Thursday, I went to the Climbing Works and met up with Tom Greenall for a catch-up chat. We’d been missing each other since the beginning of September and had finally managed to find a convenient time for each of us. He and his wife had honeymooned in Rocklands over the summer and he showed me some photos of the most amazing lines and roofs that I’ve seen. He’s also done a write up of his trip (here), and the photos are fantastic. Eventually we turned to future training, at least until the end of December.

I’ve been on annual leave for one full month now, and feel like I’ve finally got my energy back so I want to use the rest of the time to establish a base for my climbing come the spring. I know that once I get back to work, I’ll not have the time or energy to train as much as I can now. So, me and Tom started to think about what I can do that will be long lasting, but not too physically exhausting in the here and now. He’s such a perceptive guy, and I think after about three sessions and coaching plans with me, he knows that if he doesn’t pull back, I won’t either! So, we agreed the following plan of action for the next two months:

Tom outlined a ‘tiredness’ scale for me, where (1) means pretty damn tired and hurty, and (4) means totally full of beans and well pysched. I need to be honest with myself in terms of where I am on that scale and decide how to train appropriately. Tom pointed out that when I decide to train, I do it full on with guns blazing. This usually means that I burn out, and break: example in point is my Font trip last April.

He gave examples of activities and goals and what I shouldn’t do at each level. So, for example, if I was feeling pretty damn tired and hurting, then I could stretch or do yoga and core exercises rather than climbing. If I was feeling not so bad, but not awesome (like a level (2)) I could go for a run or swim or do very easy session on one of the circuits at the works, and so on. I like this approach to training, as he realised that I need to do something to feel like I’m achieving anything at all.

Once activity levels were laid out, we started to discuss what I should focus on. I have felt like I’ve been climbing really well recently and simply enjoying moving between holds. In some ways, I’m happier letting go of grades in favour of doing an easier problem in good style. Tom said that I should hold onto this and suggested that I start building my endurance levels up as I’m easily strong enough for most problems that I want to try. He suggested that I start lead climbing again twice a week.

Now, I’m pretty nervous on a rope to the point of really not enjoying myself. But, this also frustrates me because I should be able to climb with confidence indoors. I know that nothing will happen to me, and I know that my harness is safely tied, I’m safe in the hands of my belayer and the worst thing that could happen is a bruised knee and ego if I fall off a move. I’ve decided that during my leave of absence, I can work on my lead climbing and it gives me a short term goal with long term benefits. Tom suggested that I try to redpoint a 7b+ by the end of December and climb at least 10 problems in each lead session. I think I may tinker with this goal, and aim for ‘happily’ climbing a 7a on lead by the end of December. For me, it is the mental battle and this will probably take a lot of physical and mental energy to face my fears and start again on lead.

At the same time, I am really excited! I haven’t been on a rope for so long, and I want to get out of my comfort zone and shake things up. We’ll see how this new venture goes, but if it retains the enjoyment of moving between holds, then I’ll be happy.

After we finished chatting, and he left to go the Foundry for a lead climbing session, I started to work the black circuit with my friend. They’re much nicer than the last set! We did about 1/3 of them, and there were 3 that I couldn’t top (one of which we completely missed) and most of them went within 3-4 goes. By the time we got to problem 17, it was getting late, I was getting sore, and the cats were probably hungry and a bit miffed that I hadn’t fed them yet.

Some stats:

  • Warmed up on random green/red problems
  • Topped black on competition wall
  • Climbed black circuit 1-17
  • Topped most blacks in 3-4 goes
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  1. Pingback: Getting back on the sharp end | Work Hard, Think Hard and Train Harder

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