The recalcitrant

IMG_2093With some spare time on my hands, well a little bit of time, a new baby tends to suck most of the time away. I decided to make an attempt to think about my climbing, with as much of an objective perspective as possible.

I have two very similar tendencies or preferences if you wish. I say to my wife, I’m going training, this means going to my shed for an hour or so, sometimes a little more, here I listen to techno, I do a few dead hangs on increasingly smaller holds, a few assisted pull ups, standing on a bucket, then I do three (warm up) problems in escalating difficulty, if I flash them all I move onto three harder problems, one of which was a project for several months, basically these are three maximal effort problems. After that I try one of maybe two on-going projects, I fail to complete the projects, both of which are over a year old. Then I go back to the house.

Outside I mostly go to one of three or four same venues and try and fail on one of my four or so projects in the area. Occasionally I make progress, but if I’m honest I’m some way from finishing them off. Now and again, a few times a year, I clean and climb a FA, grade wise I look for 7’s, if the FA is a 7B+ it might take a half a dozen or more sessions, less if it’s easier. To be fair on myself I do sometimes finish a harder project, more often it will be a FA. It’s just that the last time I did this seems some time ago now, maybe it’s what happens as you get older or maybe I like the process too much or maybe I’m just lazy.

It’s clear my training and bouldering is limited, maybe not in imagination and dedication, but in terms of breadth it is limited. My training I suspect if analysed by a professional isn’t even training. However I justify to myself that I am in fact training for circumstances that I encounter in reality, for example a single boulder project, isolated near no warm ups, its often cold. So my ‘training’ in the shed is I think specific at least. This specificity is revealed when I try and do something broader, like a long boulder problem or visits a bouldering wall with blobs and compression and roofs and not a 45-degree angle with small holds in sight. In these contexts I’m rubbish.

So I ask myself what do I really want from my climbing and training. I think I like doing what I do, it’s a habit, it’s a routine and it’s a comfort, it’s a meditation and sometimes a philosophy. It’s also an embodied practice; I’ve been doing more or less the same thing for twenty years. But and it’s a big but, I would like to finish one, at least one of my projects.

Next time I have some spare time on my hands and I don’t go to my shed to train, or drive to a project and fail, I will try and write up some ‘objectives’ or some ’thoughts’

down by the river

Down by the river. A large mouse crawls out of the undergrowth oblivious to my presence as I sit motionless. Over the summer spiders have colonised the cracks and holes in the rock, brambles and ferns hang over the lip of the boulder. Out of the half dozen or so moves that I tried I couldn’t do any of them. Is this a meditative practice or a huge waste of time…I expect I will never know.

Performing Mountains, Boulder Being, Leeds, March 2018

I was invited to take part in;  Performing Mountains, An international symposium on Mountain Culture at Leeds University in March.  Unfortunately I couldn’t attend so worked up a remote presentation. I  put something together quite quickly, I guess it’s not necessarily the most captivating video, but it does include a chunky section of text derived from my Doctoral thesis and recently extrapolated into a book called ‘boulder being’. It reminded me of a presentation I made at art college, after which I was met with a three minute silence, this at the time I thought was either a stunned audience reaction to the brilliance of the work, or a polite pause as the staff and fellow students thought of something nice to say. Good luck to anyone that tries to watch the full 17.38 mins.

 

 

 

Featured image by Graham Gaunt

 

training…second week, home and away

In the second week of this programme and each session has involved dealing with a sensation that can only be described as mild nausea. I remember this feeling, years ago when I ‘trained’, now its clear that for years I have only been putting effort into the things that I enjoyed. For example, hanging off and moving on small holds I like, thus I do lots of it and think I’m training. This last couple of weeks I have been doing  amongst other awful exercises; ‘planks’, they are horrible, what is their to enjoy from passing from fatigue to feeling sick, heart pounding, red in the face and vibrating from head to toe, basically nothing.

training…bla, bla, bla.

I’ve been lying…’I train’, that’s what I say to myself. Maybe many years ago I did actually train, I had notebooks, stopwatches, targets and plans. Over time things changed, I took the words in a couple of articles in an old ‘On The Edge’ magazine too seriously, Moffat said all you had to do…I’m not sure of the exact words but something like ‘get down low under an overhang and pull hard’. Moon said stop ‘training strong’. So right now, the situation is I can pull quite hard on small holds on steep ground, as long as I don’t need to do more than five moves., but I don’t train. This in itself would be fine if one of my projects wasn’t more like 18 moves long, 12 hard moves at least. predictably no matter how strong or motivated I’m feeling I always fall more or less at the same point, about 8 moves in.

So I’m facing up to the fact that I need to train, specifically power endurance. As I’ve said my forte is for short and sharp, wandering into la cabane (shed) and coming out an hour later having done no more than five moves in a row won’t cut it, nor will half hearted stabs at finger board routines.

The problem is I find the amount of info online so big it overwhelms me, I know I need to do core work, conditioning, bla bla, It’s so boring and seems so complicated as these days people are making money out of this and need to seem ‘expert’. Yet the training protocols vary massively, I think in reality its pretty much guesswork still. So I’m using a generic workout plan, the beauty being that it comes through each week via a website/email and I’m confronted by three workouts a week to follow. I know that I will benefit from it, simply because its making me doing everything that I would normally avoid, namely longer sessions with volume and many horrible exercises for my core, I believe I will also need to start running! I’m writing this down in the belief, that I hope holds true, namely that once something is named and written it becomes more likely it will happen. I’m also lucky, I have a board (pictured below) and finger boards at home and a decent(ish) wall, with 50 or so set problems, 20 mins drive away. I have free time and a goal that will come into condition in a couple of months or so. I also have many, many other projects and interests in my life, honestly!

aftermath

My last post was about a project…well it took a few sessions, but I’m very pleased with this problem. It pushed me a a bit, struggled initially to climb past my seven move limit/block. In the end it went easily though. I’ve spent a year in the Ariege looking for new problems but it was only in the last couple of months that the searching started to pay dividends, the bare trees of winter probably made the difference allowing glimpses into the trees that finally revealed the potential. Should be more to come!