May Rock Climbing and Coaching

Well, April is nearly over and work has remained slow. Hopefully it will pick up next month. As such if anyone wants to come on a coaching course that is either programmed or some private guiding or climbing coaching then you can contact me here.

At present I have some provisional dates.

How To Climb Harder – 5/6/7 May

Rope Rescue for Climbers – 12/13 May

Sea Cliff Climbing Course – 14/15/16/17/18 May

Other dates and these are also available for private courses.

iCoach problem sorted

Well, if you have been trying to use the iCoach facility on my Snowdonia Mountain Guides website, I must apologise, as there has been a problem with the code, that stopped you re-assessing you performance profile and your climbing profile after each month.

Thankfully I have managed to sort this out now, just in time for outdoor climbing season. I have a few more bits and pieces I am working on for the site but they won’t happen till some point later in the year.

How to detect overtraining?

During my MSc this was a major question posed to researchers, as much of the characteristics of overtraining or over-reaching, would if left unchecked lead to Over Trainign Syndrome. The difference between overtraining and the over training syndrome, is that it can take days to recover from overtraining, and most people who train will have ‘overtrained’, whereas if you carry on training through a period after overtraining, you may develop the syndrome, which results in a sustain reduction in performance, which can take months to recover from.

Many tests were proposed, some of which included taking blood to measure heat shock proteins, others included taking a profile of moods states, through a daily questionaire, and graphing the results.As such the test were either invasive or took enough time to make them less likely to be adheared to during training.

Then someone came up with the idea of a simple test, one that checks your CNS (Central Nervous System), it is a called the finger tap test. There is a downloadable iPhone and Andriod app, and basically every day you take under two minutes to tap the screen for less thsan a minute, and the app records your daily average, and outputs it to a graph.

After a hard training session your CNS is busy trying to repair itself, so you will be fatigued and results in a fewer taps in the time. The idea behind the results if is you are tapping lower than normal it is not a good day to be doing a massive workout, instead a light climb might be in order.

Anyway, I though it might be of interest to some people who are training. The website about the app is here.

Early Season Shakedown

If like most climbers in the UK (if not further afield) then there is a seasonality to our climbing that if we want to make the most out of our cragging year, then we need to learn to tame and master the ebb and flow of performance.

Thankfully with the development of indoor climbing, the chance are that you are at your strongest around this time of year, all those nights training indoor, are good for strength, and endurance. However when you dare to step outside and feel the warm glow of the sun on your skin, then it can become very apparent that despite being strong, and having better endurance, apparently your actual ‘rock’ climbing ability has plummeted.

In order to make the ‘transition’ from indoor to outdoor climbing as smooth as possible there are many things you can do. The first is be realistic with yourself, drop the grade and accept that you won’t be leading the same grade as you were at the end of the season.

The second step is to put aside 2 to 3 days for a shakedown. By this, I mean a bit like those rich people who own yachts, they store them over winter, and then spend the spring making ready, changing things around, renewing old and tire ropes. So to do we have to have a tidy up and shake down of our climbing vessel.

You probably haven’t seen a wire for the last few months, let alone tried to place one in anger. Similar you have spent the winter standing on massive bolt on holds indoor, outdoors those footholds are not only smaller but also not coloured brightly for you to find them.

As such the first to things you need to focus on are ‘finding your feet’ and ‘getting you eye in’ for gear placements. In order to do this, every year I drop the grade right back and attack cliffs, ticking many classics I have climbed many times before.

Having climbed the routes before, you will have a greater confidence in being successful, it also is great should you find it easier then you expect. It also means you can focus on the processes of looking for and using footholds, and look for and placing gear as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Expect the first route to be much harder than you think it will be, and don’t be dishearten. Slowly increase the grade and you’ll quickly move back to where you were last year.

Another trick I use often on the second or third day of shaking myself back into rock climbing, is to deliberately make routes harder, by not moving off steep section, and hanging about and trying to recover in places where I can easily get out because there is a ledge just above or just below.

Basically, I am getting the body used to hanging out and getting pumped, using my feet properly and getting a eye for gear so I can get as many first time placements as possible.

Early Season Mileage Rules

  1. Drop the grade right back.
  2. Focus on footwork.
  3. Focus on getting an ‘eye’ for gear placements.
  4. Increase grade slowly
  5. Practice hanging out and recovering when a ledge is close at hand should you get too pump.
  6. Think about repeating routes you’ve climbed before to limit any surprise.