We have been fairly quiet over the past few months. Nose to the grindstone, fine tuning our crimps, sharpening our skin. It has been a hot summer here on the East Coast so we made the most of greasy days in the gym. Here is my reflection of my year to-date:
Nearly two years (and 4 program cycles completed) after starting this blog and focusing on specific climbing goals I feel like I am just now getting my feet under me in terms of understanding what it takes to grow as a climber. In 2016 I completed 2 x 4 month training cycles for rock and intend spend the last 3-month training cycle preparing for the ice season. This year I wanted to push my grades, abilities, and mental game up through what I had always perceived an insurmountable plateau. Making that move into the upper grades (12+) had always seemed unattainable, and realistically it was without changing my approach.
The past 4 months were up and down for me. Focusing purely on training had me forgetting about the fun parts of climbing – the people, the unstructured play, the problem solving. I learned to take a break from the regime every so often to recharge my stoke. I also saw quantifiable gains through hangboard sessions, campus board sessions, and limit bouldering sessions. I felt the motivation a day of small forward progress can lite. After recovering from injury I learned that “leaving a bit in the tank” will allow you to train more often and be better over the long term. [Also remember James – your shoulder / elbow will never be 100% cured, DO YOUR PHYSIO no matter how good they feel.]
In my predefined 4-week performance phase I sent a beautiful overhanging 5.12c in 4 day (NOTE: Lost Boys has been called soft), put down a heady trad project that rarely sees ascents in 2 days (5.10c PhD), made progress on a boulder problem I thought would always be out of my league (Resurection V9), and cruised a long term 5.12a sport project of mine in 2 burns (Gargoyle). I also felt noticeable improvement of my apprehension of falling or even going for it over bolts and gear, I took the little victories (linking moves, extending clean ground up attempts, figuring out beta), focused on the positives instead of how I didn’t send on any given attempt.
It wasn’t that these were going down that amazed me, but that moves that felt impossible just 4-12 months prior seemed easy. Each burn was far more productive for figuring out beta and increasing efficiency. If I wasn’t a full on believer before – I am now converted! Personal thank you to the Anderson Brothers.
I can wholeheartedly say I overcame my plateau this year, and it is entirely attributable to focused training. There are plenty of lessons I will apply to my next cycle but I foresee running through 3-4 of these cycles every year until the day I hang up my Muiras. Hopefully ratcheting up a bit more with each passing cycle.
NOTE TO SELF: Only think about the big picture when you’re planning your year. Then on any given day just be dedicated to the programing, trust that the plan will get you there, focus on the task at hand and don’t worry about where you “want to” / “think you should” be. Notch up in small increments and listening to your body to stay healthy and happy. The strength of your mind is just as important as the strength of your clamps, take falls regularly.
We are getting amped for the ice to show up, beginning the next training cycle this week. We’re focusing our sights on a trip in December – More details to follow soon.
Lots of photo credit goes to Matt check out his Flickr, Gavin, and Billy