Friday 2 September 2016

Summer ups and downs

Completing my hard yellow circuit on the board for the first time yesterday. A small training milestone for the summer. If you would like to join me for some coaching at my own wall, I just announced some dates for coaching in December, and then in February. The details are here.

As the wet summer continues, my plans of mountain trad projects continue to wait in limbo and my body is broken on a daily basis with tough training. This is all good, I am fit! I got a day in Binnien Shuas and revisited a potential project I tried to abseil down about 5 years ago but gave up on. I say tried to abseil down - the line goes through a huge barrel shaped too system, and I couldn’t get any gear in to pull myself into the wall and get a look at it. Now armed with better aiding skills and kit, I managed fine this time and cleaned it up. It looks around 8a with fantastic moves and a thank-god cam near the crux, although the crux will be placing the cam and managing to keep going!

I was hoping to get in there today for a lead, but it was rain 15, dave 0. Meanwhile, back in the wall where I have been racking up the circuits each day, I have been making some progress, It’s always hard to tell how much progress, since I have not had a rest day in some time, but you get clues. The clues seem promising but not mind-blowing. The main issue has been the need to eat some carbs to fuel the anaerobic sessions. My body does not get on well with this and so I’ve been working hard to arrive at a strategy to keep these to an absolute minimum required for specific sessions. Manipulating the amounts and timing has been tricky and the trial and error process has contained a lot of error! I’ll get it right yet though and I continue to learn much about this, and about how my body responds to different regimens.

Eating in my own personalised formulation of a ketogenic diet while I was only bouldering was both highly effective and very easy for me (once I had learned quite a lot of prerequisite knowledge and corrected various early mistakes). I know many people don’t get on well with it. My hunch is that this is down to lack of knowledge or planning in many cases rather than inherent unsuitability of the strategy. Managing inclusion of some CHO in the diet for CHO-based anaerobic training is probably very easy for some, but not for me, and even small amounts kicks on many of the problems that led me to the ketogenic diet in the first place. I did wonder whether maintaining this style of eating would actually be the better end of the trade off for me for sport climbing too. At the moment, it looks like the optimal route for me will be some sort of periodised balance between minimal carbs during anaerobic sessions and moving back into ketosis as quickly as possible at other times could be the best. I emphasise ‘could be’ - I am not yet sure. What the optimal regimen will look like I’m not sure either. I am sure that it will take fairly meticulous planning though. 

The trouble with experiments of any kind in sports science, especially when they include both training changes and nutrition is that so many variables are moving at the same time. Attributing an effect, positive or negative, to one change is an exercise in something between futility and careful guesswork. Was it the sleep, the protein, the fat, the carbs, the type of food, the training, the conditions, your mental state or a whole host of things you hadn’t even thought of that were responsible for what you observe?

Overall, it’s fair to say I have stepped up my game in all aspects of the organisation of my training though. One thing can always throw a spanner in the works regarding training is life outside of climbing. I’ve had a couple of ups and downs outside of climbing lately. Being totally honest, I’ve stopped a couple of training sessions after warming up purely because I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to train (putting it mildly). Sometimes training can actually be an outlet for difficulties in ‘real’ life. In fact I’d say climbing has been utterly essential in getting me through some tough times. Sometimes though, I’ve just not been able to do it.

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