A somewhat lackluster week, what with a cold descending upon me.
Monday, November 17th, Green Mountain (Strava)
Nice run up Green, via the social trail in back of the First. Much warmer than last week, although lingering around freezing. Didn’t bump into one other person – I could make out some my tracks from Friday, even. Felt a little sluggish, but, eh: that’s OK, I’m running for pure enjoyment at the moment, with any real running/racing goals literally 6 months away.
Tuesday, November 18th, Climbing Gym
Getting ready for El Potrero Chico obviously means getting in lots of climbing. I’ve been enjoying myself with reading some books on “training” (there’s that word, again!), but surprisingly most of the books don’t really center on getting better by getting stronger, but rather, getting better by thinking about things more intelligently, and to take control of your thoughts themselves. One reason for this, is that climbing is comprised only partly of physical movements; there’s also a huge intellectual side of it all. Books I can recommend:
The Rock Warriors Way, Arno Ilgner
Almost entirely centered around the mental aspect of climbing, what makes this book great is that you can apply the lessons learned to most any subject. It goes into some touchy feely territory and quite a bit of self-help psychology.
9 OUT OF 10 CLIMBERS MAKE THE SAME MISTAKES, Dave Macleod
Much more matter-of-factly in style, Macleod’s book talks about how bad training plans can be, and what to do about them. It has an entire section on the fear falling and how that can hold you back. He’s big into bouldering being good practice to getting better (can’t pull the crux move, can’t do the climb!) and how strength is always more important that endurance (same reason).
How to Climb 5.12, Eric Hörst
Climbing 5.12 would be nice to do, but isn’t really a goal of mine, personally. I honestly would rather be adept enough to climb any 5.8, onsight, in alpine conditions, in running shoes. One way to do that may be to be comfortable at much, much higher grades. Other than some pretty simple training ideas – Hörst is a big proponent in hangboards and his own Hypergravity Intensity Training method, the book is just filled with sound advice in getting over any real obstacle.
Anyways, as one of the concepts of these books (probably How to Climb 5.12), rather than a Performance Day (where you try to send a project), Tuesday was a Training Day and my partner and I wanted volume, as Time Wave Zero is 23 frickin’ pitches and we want to do them as fast as is realistic. Ta hell with Macleod on this one, his idea of, “you need the strength to pull the crux” is important, but it’s more important on a single pitch route; not a two-dozen pitch one.
“How may pitches do you wanna do?”, my partner asked. “Twenty-Five!”, I answered. She then asked, “Why Twenty-Five?” I didn’t have a great answer, except it’s about as many as TWZ is, so we better be able to bang that out. I really could have say, “1,000!” and gotten the same idea across hopefully. I just wanted to do as many as possible – basically close the gym down.
We (or shall I say, my partner) were a little more intelligent about this. Getting that many pitches in a busy gym, like Movement is difficult if you only go up a route once, so we doubled and sometimes tripled (down climbing the second pitch) the times we did a single route, making longer virtual routes out what we have. Movement is practically an uber-gym – the entire place feels way too posh to me, but it has its limitations: you can only make an indoor wall just so high. This ultimately destroyed me today, especially the triple link up, as it was probably only the third route we did this night.
In all, I think I was able to complete 18 routes, mostly on lead, and mostly in the 5.10a-ish grade. Writing about this on the next day, my back is pretty trashed. I knew this would be the case on our last route – a 5.8, which I happened to fall on, on each of my two goes at it. I could make up a ton of excuses as to why: a sandbagged route (not very likely in a gym), weird clip placements (same), too tired to complete the route (dude it’s a 5.8), or “not my style” (again, same), but generally I probably had really shitty feet and wasn’t thinking very intelligently. One of the dimensions of endurance is mental. It could be running, or riding a bike, or climbing: when you get tired, you don’t move as well, even though your body is able to complete whatever task it needs to do.
In climbing, moving intelligently is essential in conserving energy. Consistently not doing this just adds up and you’ll end your day just like me: flailing on a route easier than what you warmed up on.
In the end we did, in fact, close the gym down. I’m wondering if our death march was the best thing to do, as now my arms and back are just insanely grouchy today and tomorrow, on my next climb, I dare say I’ll be well-rested to give it another go at such a volume. It may just be a easy day, as Saturday, with any luck, we’ll be outside and it would be a shame to not be rested for that.
Thursday, November 20th, Climbing Gym (dropped)
Whoo boy. I got to the gym in a pretty bad mood, and things didn’t get any better. Got in about 2? climbs, before passing on leading a 5.9 – I just didn’t feel confident enough to do it safely. That, and popping a foot off the very first climb I did that night, and failing to get into a rhythm at the bouldering area was enough to pack it in for the day. Back was still very tender from Tuesday – I barely finished the climbs I started, so there goes that training idea. The next day, I woke up, feeling as if I had a cold. Grumble.
Also very saddened to hear about another death on Longs Peak – this time by a lone man, who had plans to ascend the Cables route, but whose body was found below the Ledges, on the Keyhole Route. It makes it all the more chilling, as the day he started his trip, we were in Lafayette, with a good view of Longs. I had commented to my girlfriend that I was happy I wasn’t up there now – the conditions looked awful – snowy and very, very windy.
Saturday, November 22th, Climbing Gym (Bouldering)
About halfway through the work day, I realized that concentrating was getting pretty hard – a sure sign I had some sort of cold. Made the pretty difficult decision to scrap plans on going to Shelf Road today – I didn’t want to be stuck at the cliffs feeling less than stellar. My girlfriend joined another friend to go to the Tetons, with my blessing and slight jealousy.
I hit the gym, after saying goodbye to her. Felt pretty lukewarm working on some problems. When you can’t concentrate well and your balance is off, attempting to send boulder problems is a little laughable, but I thought it’d make me feel better than not. One (or so) new v4 for me – a long traverse that turns a corner that I barely pulled off twice. After I finished completing it, I watched someone simply walk up and do it much more elegantly than I did. Shows I guess, that I’ve got a long ways to g
o. Another v3 that I couldn’t even attempt to do. Sigh. Felt much better than yesterday. Did some hang boarding and a lot of core work. Learned I can’t do a legitimate leg raise – that’s a little funny. Oh well, new goal for me!
One impossible goal during the winter is to not develop to much muscle in my upper body. That’s not something I can ultimately control, but while training for climbing, I’m just not going to hit any weights, and when it comes to pullups, it’s going to be more about doing Frenchies and weird, static holds. I’d love to say that my grip strength is going to be awesome, but that’s another thing that’s hard to intelligently train, and also worthless if you’re skill and technique aren’t up to snuff to take advantage of it. Core work though, having a super strong core works in my favor for running, for hiking, for schlepping heavy loads and probably helps with cycling, as crouching down all day certainly works towards a strong lower back, but perhaps a slight muscle imbalance with such a soft stomach.
I didn’t even get up to Green, before feeling that this outing wasn’t in my best interest. Was going to also tag Sobo, and maybe go for Green again, but was in the position of talking myself up to just the summit of Green and down the backside, and then do another check to see how I was feeling. Felt OK and Bear Peak beaconed. Bumped into Kendrick on the top and well – he’s inspirational to me, and I felt a bit whiny with my, “Boo hoo! Head Cold!, talk”
But once on Bear, I said, “the Hell!” with Sobo, as snow was moving in, and opted to descend Fern Canyon, which I knew would be less than ideal. Lots of ice. At the very bottom at the Mesa Trail junction, one of my microspikes gave up the ghost. Thankfully, not too much ice left on the trails so low, and in the sun, so it wasn’t too bad of a deal. Took the road back home, after getting to Chautaugua. Certainly not one of my best days. Perhaps this cold could move on.