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Best form ever!

05 Jun 2013

Last Friday afternoon I went to Tom Randall’s house for some re-testing to see what effect the training has had.  We were both really surprised to find out that in all tests (finger strength, anaerobic energy system and high intensity aerobic energy system) the results remained unchanged!  However one thing had improved and that is my aerobic capacity.  That means my ability to hang on for ages and recover.

Tom crack training

Here is Tom on his latest crack training invention.  But what climb is he training for?  I'll leave it for Tom to show you.

This all seems strange when actually I am climbing the best I have been in some considerable time and possibly ever!  I know this because for the last 4 Tuesdays (my one day a week outside climbing) I have climbed 3 7c+s and an 8a.  I’ve never had this run of form before.  I guess the superstar euros get that combined route experience on an average day out, but I most certainly never have done.

Actually traversing around endlessly (low intensity on big holds) has been the one thing I have kept up training wise, since I headed outside climbing at the end of March so it’s no wonder that improved.  Everything else on the training plan has been hit and miss with house hunting and general life getting in the way.

So I guess this is what happens when you actually WORK YOUR WEAKNESS.  The interesting thing is I have tried to do this in the past, but unsuccessfully.  Either I haven’t really given it full commitment or I have tried to tackle it from the power endurance angle (anaerobic) – but that has not been the missing link.  Most Peak climbers have assured me for years that climbing in the Peak is all about strength and power endurance (which is true to a point) and no endurance is required.  From personal experience that never seemed to be the case.  I had suspected the problem for ages, but it was Tom that really highlighted it. 

Malham

Garen standing under L'obsession at Malham

But here is the other thing – the power of the mind.  Because I have never been able to rely on my fitness in the past and feared the pump with a deep dread, I used to constantly doubt myself.  Because I knew (even without the testing) that I was getting fitter, I have had so much more confidence on routes.  Rab, who I was climbing with yesterday, claims climbing is 80% in the mind.  He changed it later on in the day to 90%, which makes his point a little unreliable.  But how much does it contribute?

In my last blog I reported Rooster Booster at Raven Tor, and since it’s been L’obsession (the best sport route I’ve done in years) and Mescalito (finally I got a dry (just enough) window) at Malham and yesterday I ticked Abberation 8a at Two Tier, Cheedale.

Mescalito

Happy under Mescalito

Abberation yesterday was an interesting experience as like Rooster Booster I had basically climbed it, but once again made the mistake of foolishly congratulating myself before the chains.  My head filled with unnecessary emotion and I randomly toppled off.  So with the sun looming I took advantage of the final few minutes of shade, had another go and success came, with a much clearer head.  To top it all off, it was my birthday yesterday (almost a big one, but not quite) and I could happily sing “Happy Birthday to me”.  Actually I didn’t really, but I could have if I’d wanted to.

These are exciting times as finally I feel there is an opportunity to make steps forward with my sport climbing.  It’s been a disappointment to me for years that my strength has far exceeded my fitness, with seemingly no way to change it.  I can’t wait to get some new projects and hopefully step it up a gear.

PS actually way more exciting than any of this (I mean, thanks to anyone who actually does read this blog):  young Ben Davison who attended two of my Rock Action courses (he’s only been climbing 3 years) has ticked his first 8c, Pata Negra in Spain.  Here is the look of shock on his face once he made contact with the ground again after the successful ascent.  I feel very proud to have had just a tiny bit of influence on his climbing.  WELL DONE!

Ben Davison Pata Negra

Ben psyched after his successful redpoint