Hi all, I imagine there are other folks posting here who are in a similar position as I am when it comes to actual time on their projects. I have two young kids and live about 5 hours away from really good climbing (I'm in DC, and the closest really good stuff is the NRG). Pre-kids, I used to get out to the crag 2-3 weekends a month, so had plenty of time to put burns in on a project. However, nowadays I plan one relatively brief trip and "put all my eggs in that basket". I realize it's less than ideal, but it's what my current constraints are. Optimally this problem would be solved with a well-positioned job relocation, but in the meantime...
Does anyone have any interesting techniques or approaches they use for sending when their access to the rock is so limited? Concretely, this fall I have a five day window and am meeting some folks at the Red. Five days outside (assuming no rest) for the whole season, basically. I think my training is lining up really well physically, but I'm curious about things like how you approach a route when you have such a short window, or how you might change your training leading in knowing you have such a short peak. Is there a way to make your peak even higher given how short the window is, for example?
I'd love to hear from anyone with some experience in this less than ideal setup! Or job offers to move someplace nice and cozy to a great climbing area. I'm all ears for those as well...
Lundy, come move to the climbing meca of south central Pennsylvania! I'm in desperate need of climbing partners.
Last fall, I planned a trip down to the Red. It was a very difficult trip and quite the learning experience, and it was basically my only chance to climb for the fall. Are you traveling with your kids and wife? Any specific project in mind?
Do whatever you have to, Climb at night? Climb early morning? Set simulators if you can. Never put your eggs in a basket...EXPECTATIONS are the worst thing you can have in rock climbing...I dont send things until I've "let them go", its always really interesting to hear Dave Graham talk about this
These sort of expectations are the hardest thing about training for climbing, you see tangible improvements in your strength and power and then your expectations to succeed grow and grow...then...if you fail you spiral out of control into depression. Its always hard to put everything you have into a "project" and fall just short, (your mind flashes to the endless repeaters, early mornings, and late nights you've had to endure to get to this point.....but thats why we're masochists
i think one of the most important things in this case is tactics, particularly if you are looking at a multiple burn or multiple day route. when you get down from the route, IMMEDIATELY pull out your notepad and pen and try to write down every move in order. try to study this as much as possible, and after each attempt analyze your notes and determine if you need to edit your beta.
using a video camera is also super duper helpful. you can watch the video, review your notes, and get a lot more familiar with the route while you eat/hang out before bed/etc.
I am pretty much in the same boat with the same restrictions, and even the same destination. My plan is to focus on onsight as a progress metric rather than max redpoint. This opens up dozens of 'projects' that only take 3 minutes to try out. Having a lot of choices also lets you cherrypick routes that are in good condition for climbing, rather than waiting on something to dry out or come into the shade.
With only 5 days you will need to be efficient as others have noted, but also flexible. How will the options at the Red fit with your goals for this fall? Does it make sense to drop down a letter grade or two and look for some 2nd go projects and to do more things in our onsight range?
Chris -- my wife and kids are staying home as my mother-in-law (saint that she is) is flying in to help my wife while I'm away. I'm ridiculously lucky to have that option! I do have a project in mind (Black Gold, .13c, at Gold Coast). I know I'm strong enough to send it, but, as Josh notes, I try super hard not to have expectations about how quickly I can send it, though when you only get one, five-day trip out all season (after a spring season with just one day on the rock), it can be hard to avoid.
Slim - I'm known for my "beta brain" among my friends. I'll not only know all my beta, but I'll know all the holds I don't use, all my friends' beta, and I'll have tried it all before I send. I've never been that strong relative to the guys I climb with, so I've always had to trick my sends into submission. I LOVE the idea of capturing some video, though. I'll almost certainly give that a try.
I see where everyone is going with trying to focus on faster sends, but it's been sooooo long since I've gotten on something that will be really, really hard for me, that I'm a bit chomping to give it a try. I think what I'll do, based on all this feedback (and to avoid growing expectations) is maybe just get on the project on the first day, see how it feels, and not be afraid to go try some other easier climbs if it feels like it's gonna require a ton more time than I have. So basically more flexible as Ted suggests, rather than wed to this one climb.
Another obvious concern I have is that with soooo little time on rock lately, it'll almost certainly take me a couple days to feel like I'm moving efficiently again. Perhaps more reason not to aim too high.
Lastly, regarding the training component, perhaps a bit more explanation. Back in the day I was an elite swimmer, and we would spend an entire year of training to aim for a single performance peak, and we'd taper our training accordingly. I typically found if I nailed it I had about a 2 week window where I felt like a superhero. I notice, though, that this training program doesn't really include a taper. I understand that strength training and pure cardio endurance training are different, and maybe that's why we don't taper here (the super-compensation comes on workout by workout basis, rather than a seasonal basis), but I was curious if anyone has tried a particularly intensive 3-4 week PE phase and then done more of a taper leading into their performance phase.
Thanks again, everyone, for all your fantastic thoughts!
-RE: Rusty-ness, this varies a lot from climber to climber. For ME, I'm not so great my first day on the rock each season. By the third day though, I'm crushing. I've sent quite a few hard things on my third outdoor day (Breakin the Law, Mission Impossible, Beretta, Double Stout). My point is, if you decide to jump on the route on day 1, and then use your performance from that day to make a decision, ideally you would also consider your typical "trajectory" at the start of the outdoor season.
- Tapering: This program doesn't include a drastic taper because climbers typical want a long-lasting Performance Peak (I would argue there absolutely is a taper, but I agree it's relatively subtle compared to what I did as a runner). Think of your Performance Peak as a triangle of fixed area. It can be narrow and tall, or broad and short (or infinitely wide, with zero height, like the typical non-training-just-climb-all-the-time-climber). It's certainly possible to force a higher peak, but then it won't last as long. There is a limit of course, and it would take some experimentation to figure out how much more "height" you can get by sacrificing breadth.
Another reason I don't like tall skinny peaks is that if you mis-time it, you could be totally hosed. In my experience I tend to come crashing down quickly from tall peaks, so if your peak "accidentally" hits on the first day of a week-long trip, you could be struggling badly by the last day. This is less of a concern on a short trip like yours. A more common scenario is the classic "surely I will send my project by XX Date", so you taper accordingly, and then inevitably everything takes longer than you think and you find yourself two weeks past your peak struggling to match your highpoint. I don't taper any more for that reason--I've fooled myself too many times. Instead I work really hard to maintain my meager power for as long as possible while stacking PE on top of it.
Anyway, if you want to taper, I would suggest cutting down your SEs toward one set as you approach, gradually reducing the duration of each aspect of your training over the last two weeks, and completely eliminating PE the last week before your trip (unless you have an opportunity to get on real rock).