As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been climbing semi-casually-seriously for about three years. Before that I’d lived the life of a typical college grad student, which meant mostly sitting at my computer alternating breaks for pots of coffee, beer or cigarettes. Climbing more or less switched that around but despite a major increase in my general activity levels I never saw much of an increase in feeling fit. I’d played basketball all through school and dabbled in vanity weight lifting through my early 20’s before grad school hit and hoped that climbing would get me back to that feeling but it never happened on its own. Climbing, at least at the level I participate in and my very weekend-warrior attitude towards it, just wasn’t enough on its own to get me better at climbing.
My job and other commitments meant that I wasn’t really able to climb more than I’d been doing and my lack of strength and fitness meant that I’d plateaued in my climbing grade. I was stymied for a solution and went through about a year of not really making any progress or getting new ideas and was starting to feel down about the whole prospect of climbing. Why keep bashing my head against the wall if I wasn’t going to improve?
At this point I was lucky enough to attend a lecture by Will Gadd. Will is a Canadian ice/mixed climber, paraglider, Canadian and all-around ass kicker. It had been my first exposure to Will. His enthusiasm got me fired up and I spent the next few weeks reading up on him. One of his videos, an ad for Arc’teryx, single-handedly changed my entire approach to life and fitness.
The video is based on one of Gadd’s blog posts about how moving is preferable to being stationary and that avoiding being a human garbage disposal will keep you feeling younger for longer. That was it. No workout advice. No ’10 tips for dieting.’ Just move and don’t eat shitty food. It changed the way I saw my day-to-day life and my lack of improvement started to make sense. The 2 hours a week I spent climbing couldn’t possible move the enertia of the other 166.
On days that I did nothing I started telling my girlfriend that I was ‘making Will Gadd sad.’ Not only did it make her and I laugh a little, it reminded me that I could be doing something instead of nothing. Twenty push-ups. Forty-five minutes in the gym after work instead of going on the computer. It all counted and I always had time for something. And sure enough, after a couple of months of just making a point to move instead of sit, my climbing started improving. I felt stronger. My fingers made a liar out of my brain and stuck holds that were unstickable six months prior. I didn’t skip to crushing 5.12s or anything, but I was improving. I was starting to feel strong, which is really the only thing that counts. Anthony Bourdain, an American chef, author and tv personality, just posted a video where he talks about ‘the incremental tiny satisfactions of being a little less awful at something every single day.’ This is what simple movement meant for me. This is what kept me coming back.
Next post I’ll talk about how formalizing movement with some training aids ruined all of my climbing goals for this year (because I sent them all in the spring and didn’t know what to do with myself).
I’m going to try to summarize my training activities over the previous 2 weeks with every post, mostly to keep me honest.
Training summary for November 25-December 2, 2014:
2 weight room workouts
5 days climbing in Indian Creek, Utah
Grade: A. Could have been A+ but I took ‘climbing trip recovery’ a little too seriously and spent 3 days travelling/sitting in hotel rooms/laying on the couch