Saturday 10 June 2006

Training notes #1

I will post up some notes of mine on training for climbing as regularly as I can. You might be expecting some advice containing words like 'sets', 'reps' and other stuff to do with the nitty gritty of physical training. But there is loads of that stuff out there and most people go wrong for basic reasons rather than small details. So the first few posts will be general but hopefully a little enlightening before the hardcore stuff later.

Most of the training that makes us better at whatever we are doing happens in the mind. Its important to see thinking as training. The more you think about what you are doing, the more you tend to learn about it. The other really good thing about training in your head is that your mind takes much longer to tire out than your body – if you apply yourself, you can go very far in a short time.

So, the very first piece of training to be done when you decide you want to get better at climbing is to ask yourself “what for?” Why is getting better a good idea? Answering this question will probably be the hardest bit of training you’ll ever do, but believe me, if you can even nearly manage it, the rest will fall into place.

Unfortunately, only you hold the answer to why you climb and what you get out of it. But there are a few things you can do to help. Reading about the experiences and thoughts of other climbers in magazines and books can help you identify with things that motivate you like adventure, getting a buzz out of doing scary things or just hardcore cranking for the pure pleasure of it.

Different people see the rewards from doing any sort of endeavour differently. For me, the reason why its worth it to put in a huge amount of effort into getting better is because the reward comes from breaking barriers – making something that seems impossible, possible. Climbing motivates me because the barriers are obvious, in your face and intimidating.

When you are deciding why you think you would get more reward by getting better at climbing, its important to be able to separate out the different strands of your motivation. For instance, I enjoy the act of climbing because I like being in the mountains, I like working out moves, learning what moves I can do and how subtle they can be and many more aspects besides. However, these are not the aspects that make me want to get better, I only need to participate in climbing at any level to enjoy them. The aspects that drive me to get better are breaking barriers (as I described above), adventure (the buzz of not knowing if you can do something) and the process of physical training itself (the simple pleasure of using your body – I like to call it ‘athleticism’).

Not many people are very aware at a deep level what makes them train or climb. This makes them drift in and out of motivation. If you can get it clear what you’re in it for, you will never have this problem and can get on with the nitty gritty of chasing the rewards you are looking for.


  1. Anonymous10 June, 2006

    All right Dave, are you going to be sticking the rest of the training article you did last year (!...) up on here, or are you still happy for it to go up on the SC wiki in a oner (or both)? I'll send you the stuff I got from various folk about motivation if you're wanting to put it up here.

    Cheers, Tom C-E

  2. Hey Tom, I was hoping it might galvanize you to putting it up on SC!! Will be putting up more on here (and on my main site when it's up - shortly) chunk by chunk, not all the same as the stuff I wrote for you. Go ahead and put the SC piece up.

    Have you been steeling your way up turnbinal nose yet?

  3. Anonymous11 June, 2006

    Keen to get it on the wiki but I'm writing something for the Watson at the moment and I've got deadline fear. Should be able to put it on the wiki in 2 weeks, hopefully.

    Dunno about steel, more a case of deploying the lank. Got up to the crimp on the slab on Tuesday the week before last, but went to Glen Tress the next day and squashed my hand. My fingers needed the rest anyway, and this weather's cack. Either going to get the pocket by flagging my left leg or hooking my left toe round the spike above the crux left-hand pinch - or do you have more byzantine potential solutions? Did you ever have a play on the left-hand finish?

    Cheers, Tom C-E

  4. The top out isnt hard, you just do a big rockover/mantle! If you get to the lip it's done! Just get that left foot high and 'close the deal'.I didn't think the LH finish looked that good and I was more psyched for a couple of other lines in the Croe at the time. Have you been up to Nuclear Button? That was the best of all of my Arrochar problems.

  5. Anonymous11 June, 2006

    I've tried doing that but it seemed to require too much grunting for my tastes; as you know I've got a tendency to try to walk the ball into the net!

    How fingery is Nuclear Button? I'm working Turbinal Nose because it's pretty finger-friendly. Precious is next on the menu at the moment, but I don't know how well my claws are going to take it. Boulderer with weak fingers seeks soft-touch... heard that one before!

  6. Nuclear is fingery but not sharp. The moves are great though. It finishes with a big dyno, but thats only 7a+ in itself. You get good conditions up there all summer though