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Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Strength Reflections

Just been doing some training down here in Kent. Fairly simplistic stuff, 45 minutes of pull ups til failure on the beastmaker big and small edges. I'm going to be working a lot this month with limited rock time so will need to pull my finger out after work. I've accepted much hard work is needed to get me out of this current rut. Over two months off and 10 pounds of weight put on is the problem. And it seemed like such a good idea at the time! Normally i'd be getting fairly demoralised by now and indeed i have been here before. I can remember sitting in the School and the Den after a bit of downtime despairing about my form. This time i'm probably even shitter but my saving grace has been that i have had some pretty cool stuff to climb on to break up the training and keep me motivated. Although i know the stuff i have been doing/am trying would usually be first redpoint affairs trying hard always feels the same and it always feels good. Tonight i got thinking about my strength history. Feeling strong is one of the great feelings in climbing. Strong moments don't even have to result in a top out to be memorable. Doing a move that you never thought you'd do or maybe a one armer on a hold you've been trying to deadhang for years. Its been a few years since i trained consistently. I lost some love for climbing on boards and training and have just been getting out on the rock as much as possible. One day i would really like to push the physical side again and really improve and push the next grades but i'm aware that this will take six months of hard training. For me i know to get to my best, training is essential. I will never get as strong on the crag as i can on the board. We all have had mutant periods in our climbing. These are the times when you crush your hardest routes and boulders. For most people it takes a quick step up from their normal level to achieve their hardest climbs. For me it has been different. There are two times in my climbing that i have felt significantly stronger than normal. During these periods my level shot up for a short period of time, i did some stuff and then i returned to normal. In 2005 i lost a load of weight and felt a level of strength that i hadn't experienced before. I didn't do much this time really. I did the Hulk at Crag X and then went to Raven Tor and almost did Hooligan Start in a session. I was foiled by a split tip. I felt so light and steely, it was amazing. In 2008 the same thing happened. This time i managed to do Zeke on the quick and Jack the Drunk which is my hardest problem. I've done loads of stuff i'm pleased with under normal strength conditions but these higher levels of performance do feel strange as they're so far from my normal every day level. It almost feels like i didn't do these climbs. I could probably train specifically for the next year and might not be able to repeat these feats. I do find it frustrating as my body has achieved a really satisfying level but the day to day reality is so different. I bet Pascal could do Spectre again in the same time if he went back to Bishop. And Danny would get back up Louis Armstrong if he really wanted to. I thought the whole idea was to train, get stronger, plateau, maybe lose a bit, then push on etc... This might read like a whiney post, i am grateful that i have had these experiences but it can be a bit demoralising at the same time. Anyone who's had similar experiences get in touch. Hang on i just thought of one, Paul B on Voyager!


Jack said...

Hey Chris,

I've had a few purple patches over the years, funny thing is, it seems normal when you're in them, it's just when you're out of them they are so obvious.

With the trad it revolves for me as much about a mental purple patch as a physical one. Two different spheres of ability all rolled in to one numerically gauged performance!

I've not rock climbed really since last year, so am looking at digging myself out of a big hole when I get back to it in a month, added to that a couple of chronic over-use injuries that I can't shake off and the whole situation seems like a hard one.

But... I am psyched! And it always comes back if you put the effort in.

Your new crags look well cool!

See you in the spring maybe.


Doylo said...

Purple patches are common but its 2 week periods when you're twice as strong as you've ever been that get me! Catch you soon

Micah Bryan Humphrey said...

Aaahhh, Pascal on Spectre...those were the dayz!

Of course I've never met you, but I have seen and own a copy of West Coast Gimps (best climbing movie ever???!!).
You'll get back to it. At least you don't have a torn Achilles. What I wouldn't give to be healthy again and able even just to train like normal; let alone climb on real rock.

The real motivator is having something you love taken away from you in a heart beat.


thomas said...

I reckon that dealing with these massive ups and downs is a feature of working in rope access, just as there is feast and famine with the money rolling in you'll find the same thing happens with climbing performance I relate to what you say about not feeling like the same person totally. I haven't felt in good shape for a couple of years now since my shoulder woes began but it doesn't stop me trying.