Monday, 22 February 2010

Fat is not just a feminist issue

Pete at Giggleswick North

Finally got out on Friday after a bit of a bum week. Got elbow pain after working out a new 35 move circuit on Tuesday so took 2 days off.

Went to Giggleswick North. It was: cold, damp, short, hard and fun.

Felt great to be out on rock again.What didn't feel great was having the climbing ability of a donkey on roller skates. I failed on 2 warm up routes, a 6a and a 6b, due to poor route reading, failing to commit and shocking footwork when the holds aren't plastic, luminous pink and tagged.

I then decided to RP the next route, a 6c, to avoid further depression.

Two goes on a top rope, a slight interruption ( more of which later ) and it went first RP attempt. Felt easier on the lead than on top rope and i still hadn't got a sequence sorted for the top section when i set off. Being on lead focussed the climbing brain and it all clicked and went quite easily really. Bodes well for the future.

More should have been on the cards but Kate was so shocked by my display of awesome climbing ability she forgot she was stood on a slippy rock, above a rubble strewn steep slope, and promptly fell off in sheer awe. A bad bang to the head, various cuts and bruises and a nasty looking puncture to her calf meant an end to the day's entertainment - but not until she let me have the lead. Thanks Kate.

On the down side i'm still not shifting the fat.

Climbing 4 times a week, running once, cut out just about all crap and it's still not shifting. I am fairly hungry too so i'm not cutting down on grub. Time to up the running i think.

Simon Lee ( the lord and master of UKBouldering ) mailed me today with more depressing news. If you take my % decrease in fat and inc in muscle i have actually relatively lost muscle. BOLLOCKS !

It's the old GCSE question. Reducing something by 70% is different then reducing it by 50% then 20% as the 20% reduction is applied to a smaller number than the original 100%. So my actual weight of muscle now is relatively less as I weigh less

I always did hate maths.

However i went to Keswick wall for a solo boulder session on Sunday as i couldn't find anyone to play with. I've only been once before and really struggled. Cruised loads of problems this time up to 6B, got a couple of 6B+'s and 2 6C's 3rd go. Not bad at all. Elbow reminded me it's still a bit delicate at that point so i packed in. It's got to be the weight loss 'cos i sure haven't done any strength work.

So more positives than negatives. Got my first outdoor session done and blew some cobwebs away by the end of it, feeling strong and i am lighter than i was in Jan.

Need to crack on with the endurance work. Busy next 2 weekends so train, train, train until i can get out again mid March.

Sunday, 14 February 2010


For a clue as to what the title means take a look on the newly commercialised for the thread of the same title.

The last couple of weeks have been all about putting effort in. In order to get a positive feedback loop going i needed to have something positive - and quick before i lose 'it'.

Today was going to be the big test. Texts were sent, weather sites checked and St Bees looked good, as did the weather. I wanted to give 100% on an onsight attempt of a 6c and to see where i am up to on my main goal of Dreaming of Red Rocks. There was also some un-finished business with a couple of routes i hadn't been able to commit too last year through fear of falling.

The scene was set, the psyche was turned up to 11 ...and it rained overnight and was drizzly in the morning. BASTARD !

Quick re-scheduling and an understanding wife on Valentine's Day led to a trip to Kendal wall with Mario. We'd both cleanly top roped a 7a there last week so maybe something good could still be salvaged.

After warming up and some falling practice ( i still can't stop making involuntary loud noises as i let go ) i was feeling good so decided to go for an onsight of a 6b+ up the main wall. Cracked it off good style with a bit left in the bag. Tactics went a bit out of the window for a while when i abandoned my planned smooth drop knees for wild flailing. However a couple of weeks back i wouldn't have gone dynamic and would have probably shouted "Take !" Anyway it's a new level for my main weakness so i won't pick too many faults.

Suitably happy i went for a 6c onsight on the really steep lead wall. Didn't get it but took a surprisingly non-scary lead fall. It didn't phase me at all. Back down and climbed to a new high point but called it quits. I didn't want to get too pumped as the 7a was lurking. It'll go next time i'm sure.

Long story short: clips in, top rope, Mario led it, i led it. Another new level reached.

The long story has extra info in about an awesome hands off rest i found and how a shocking adrenalin boost through the crux move proves that fear of falling is still dragging me down at the worst of times.

So positivity points gained, though strangely i feel happier about the 6b+ and 6c attempt.

It's proving the grind does produce results, so the grind continues and more results are expected.

As a reward i have allowed myself a pint and a single malt - oh and some pork scratchings and a pickled egg. Proper post training recovery food.

Back to it tomorrow. Need to get out on real rock and away from plastic.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Power of the mind

I listened to a program on the radio last week about a guy in a coma. He was dying ( white tunnel and all that ) and believed he had to make a choice whether to die or live. He chose to fight and live and woke up from his coma shortly after. He remains convinced that his life was in his own hands and he had to make the decision. He had been through a lot of suffering and giving up may have been the easier option for him, as he knew he was going back to that suffering. But that suffering would also bring him what he wanted - for him time with his family.

I raved about Dave Mac's book in my last post and this book continues to inspire. It's a book that works on your mind. If you want to get what you want it is going to involve sacrifice + hard work (suffering). How much you are prepared to suffer depends on how much you want your goals.

Looking back I used to use any excuse not to train again. Feeling a bit tired, bit sore or just not up for it, rest is very important etc. I needed to make the decision and accept i was going to have to make changes if i wanted to improve. That felt a bit scary but the reality hasn't been half as bad as i imagined. Organising my time a little better has meant i can fit the training in without imposing on family time. Result.

Actually doing the training is a different matter.What i have discovered is the difference between being a bit tired + sore and being unfit to train for real. It's amazing how little niggles disappear once you get warmed up. Putting that extra little bit of effort in soon adds up and makes a difference. One extra session a week that you would otherwise not have done is 52 sessions a year. That could be a grade breaker.

But what about the real suffering ? The pain, the discipline, the effort - the grind.

I have certainly been more tired but early to bed soon sorts that out. I'm psyched enough at the minute to be almost enjoying the grind.

However dieting and forcing myself to fall off on lead are a different matter to be discussed next time :0(

Monday, 1 February 2010

Knowledge is power - as long as it's not the wrong knowledge !

View from the top of Brown Cove Crags

Quite a good week has just been and gone. Climbed 4 times - 1 boulder sesh at St Bees South, Stamina at the wall, a routes session at Kendal and a morning Winter soloing grade 3 routes. I even went for a run as well. The end of the week was not quite so good training wise with a weekend away ending in massive ale consumption and puddings. I wasn't too badly behaved - i could definitely have been worse - but i could have been better. It was our first weekend away sans kids for nearly 3 yrs though so i wasn't ever going to be monk like.

Upon my return there was an amazon package waiting for me. Dave Mac's little blue book on climbing training - 9 out of 10 climbers make the same mistakes.

Going completly against his advice of getting lots of sleep i started reading that night and didn't finish until 1.30 am. No, I'm not a slow reader I read the whole thing in a oner it was 'un-putdownable'. Like he says at the start he aims to tell it straight. Page after page of simple guidance and revelations. Loads of info but no technical stuff or references. You just have to trust he knows his stuff and go with him.

Due to the style of writing ( a lot of it is adapted from his blog i think ) it feels like he's talking to YOU and makes you listen. I swear he called me fatty in there somewhere. Some parts just leaped out at me - falling issues, being a chubber - and re-enforced how important it is to my climbing to sort those out.

Other issues are more subtly dealt with and give you have the confidence to make the right decisions for your climbing lifestyle.

Straightaway i realised i'd cocked up. I've a degree in sports coaching and had made a basic error. I am trying to lose weight. What's the best way to do that ? Aerobic exerercise i thought.

What i should have asked is what's the best way to lose weight to improve my climbing ?

Answer - climbing.

Bugger ! I was going to drop a climbing session this week to up my running. What i need to do is drop the running and up the climbing. Anaerobic work burns shed loads of calories during the session and in recovery. The rest times/easy climbing increase your capillary function thus also improving your climbing fitness. He compares it to fartlek in running.

So lose weight + get better at climbing at the same time or go running, get better at running, get tired and lose some weight which should have a knock on effect on my climbing.

Which would you choose ?

Choose climbing not running, make the choice with knowledge, choose this book. Simple but i'd missed it by a mile and i should know better.

Get a copy now. It will help you + help Dave by putting money in his pocket. This means he has to work less + can get on with writing the next 2 ideas he has which will again help all of us get better. It's a win win situation :0)

I was thinking of a period of strength endurance anyway as i am now happy that i am well again and can take training without becoming ill. Got some sport trips lined up if the weather stays fair towards the end of Feb. My strength is OK for where i want to be but i'm never going to get up a route without some fitness. So bring it on.

He tells you how to do this as well of course but if you want to know buy the book.