Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Work has been done

Work has been done. Everything looks better, apart from my work gloves.

About 4 years ago I had a similar break in blogging for two or three months. The common reason was primarily moving house. I am moving house shortly, and with it comes the need to do shed loads of work. After work, climbing and family time, there is little time left over. However, the physical work tasks that need done are only half the story.

Usually, it coincides with a larger transition in life, moving on to a new chapter. So in all aspects of life, there are old things and ideas to let go of and new things to grapple with. Such has been the last three months for me.

I’ve done this a few times now. So although it’s a scary process, I tend to grab it with both hands since it’s important. Since completing a lot of huge climbing goals over the past few years, I enjoyed a good bit of just going with the flow, choosing what to climb based purely on what the weather is doing or what friends suggest. 

I visited some new climbing areas. After spending last spring in Switzerland I chose to stay at home this year which was a good choice since it didn’t rain for two months! I put good few days into preparing for a cool climbing enchainment idea I’ve had. I was in good shape for it and really psyched, but sadly the weather just didn’t play the game. Either the winter routes were white but the rock routes wet or vice versa. Such is the gamble. It was worthwhile to do the prep since I now know that I can do it. I might try another enchainment with only rock routes which will be a bit less weather dependent in the short term.

I went to some new boulders, climbed new problems and went on some sick hard projects I knew about. 2 of them I have sacked off because they are nasty with horrible moves on sharp holds. One of them is getting me more psyched. It’s a bit weird as it’s a horizontal roof which is low to the ground. But it’s really hard and all the moves go. I’ll keep trying that until the midge arrives. There’s another few really good boulder projects I know about but have yet to visit. It's been a lot of pure climbing, just going out on my own, in nice places

I tried to go trad climbing, but it was freezing. Every time I take a rope to go climbing lately it seems to start snowing. Winter is taking a long time to give in in Scotland. Yesterday (May 2nd) it was still snowing on Rannoch Moor and I see yet more fresh snow on the hills this morning. The other day I sat for the whole evening making a new list of mountain crag projects to try when the May sunshine finally arrives. I can’t wait until I get the chance to start afresh on some mountains and islands I’ve never been to. But for now, the trad season is still a list on my notepad.

Sport climbing has also commenced, with a lot of hanging on the rope warming numb hands. I went back to Malc's 9a at the Anvil and seem to have finally figured out some beta that works for me after Malc turned the crux hold I used to dust, breaking it off when we were trying it 6 years ago now.

I also did some running. Not a lot really, but some. And I was enjoying it a lot. My troublesome ankle hurt, as expected. So I might have to take a break from that again. This made me somewhat depressed for a while. Speaking of injuries, A little setback came when I was doing a deep drop knee on my board at home. I’d just had a brilliant session and felt strong for the first time in months and ‘crack’ went my MCL and hamstrings tendon in my knee. Partial tears. It could have been a lot worse. For ten minutes I thought I was in ACL and meniscus hell. 10 days off running and 14 off climbing were all that was necessary, although I still can’t quite burl down on a heelhook just yet. The lesson? Dropknees are still my favourite move, but they are dangerous. Be careful.

I spent the time off building steps, walls, paths, sheds, floors etc at my house to get it ready to sell. Mixing cement gives you big shoulders and helps you sleep at night. Well, unless you are still mixing another mix at 3am.

During all these adventures, I went through a bit of a low. I realised that some things in my routine have to change. It’s not to say that what I was doing was bad - I’ve just completed that stage. I badly need some new badass projects to work on. My friend Nick Dixon used to say he needed a big project every 5 years. I don’t last so long! I have some good trips planned for later this year, but I’m rubbish at training for distant trips. So now that I have sorted out some goal routes, I can prepare for them much better.


  1. Dave, I remember it being said somewhere on your blog that some soft tissue injuries are down to underuse rather than overuse as commonly believed.

    Could it be that Knees, also could be trained in some way for injury prevention? Perhaps squats, lunges or some variation on them that simulates drop knees in a progressive manner could build up injury resistant knees and make severe drop knees and heel hooks less dangerous.

  2. Yes that can be true. I've just written a detailed post over on the OCC blog. http://www.onlineclimbingcoach.blogspot.com/2013/05/injury-case-study-knee-ligament-tear.html

  3. By the way, I noticed you commented on an old post of mine about training antagonists, asking why not eccentrics.

    The answer is the treatment depends on the injury. In the post about antagonists training I was referring to a strained brachioradialis which I used to suffer with intermittently. This injury seems to respond well to strengthening various elbow flexors. It's not totally clear why, but possibly it relieves the strain on that muscle or just helps it to get stronger.

    When it comes to degenerative tendinopathy as in golfers elbow, which I've also had along with most of the 30 something climbing population, eccentric exercises, and lots of them do seem to keep curing lots of cases in the research and definitely worked for me. NB a lot of people seem to have followed a protocol set out on a video featured on UKC which was for tendinopathy affecting the pronator, not wrist flexor. Not surprisingly, plenty of people have had mixed results since they may have been targeting the wrong muscle. Pronator may also be affected in plenty of cases of golfers elbow (as much as 50%). But nearly all cases will involve the wrist flexor.

    Interestingly, the debate as to why eccentrics seem to work still rages on. Some great papers just out over the past few months confuse matters even more. But they do seem to work well if you get the protocol right (many don't).

    Of course, eccentrics are not the whole story for recovering from this injury. Hence why I'm writing a whole book on the subject...