You could see in my last post I was attempting to make myself feel a little less beaten with a bit of positive talk. Thanks for your comments on the post. It’s hard to explain, but feeling really beaten and slapped by a project is actually a great and essential thing to happen. It’s a strange feeling to be depressed from retrograde progress on the route, but pleased about this happening, all at the same time.
I guess the best way to describe it is to think of it as taking one step back to make two forward. Psychologically, it’s the real, in your face symptoms and prospect of failure, fatigue and pain that are the strongest calls to action. They make you get up and fight back like nothing else. That’s the mental aspect – so everything is good there. After a rest day, the ‘fire’ is back. That sounds cheesy, but that’s the best way to describe the return of a burning, impatient drive to run back up the mountain and rejoin the battle.
Physically, things are a bit different. I have to wait for my body to catch up. Because I am training properly for a single goal again, short term performance is removed from the priority list. Many climbers at a medium level fail to see off their ‘career best’ project because of this issue. Climbers want to their bodies to perform at their personal best level, every session, all year long. At an amateur level this is fine, but when the demands get heavier, some short term sacrifices have to be made.
To make real progress in physical training, you have to really work yourself. If you have been training long enough to handle it, this means daily work and feeling pretty wasted all the time. Feeling a little down in the dumps is totally normal during this time. When the time draws close to cash in on all this heavy work, we do something called ‘tapering’. Basically this means just going easy on yourself for a few weeks and allowing your body to fully recover and refuel from the effort. If you get all of this just right, the result is that you feel utterly bionic and destroy performance goals that were unimaginable before.
The really interesting stuff for me is to judge the intensity just right over the months of heavy work. Too little and it won’t be enough to do the route. Too much and I get injured. It’s a pretty fine line to walk and the messages from the body that inform you of which side you are veering on are not so easy to measure.
Tapering time for me begins whenever I can link Echo Wall on a toprope. If that happens some time this summer, things will get exciting. Until then, it’s time to go and put in some more hours at Sky Pilot.