Hard to believe we are already finishing out the first season of our training. The training we are doing will break the year into three seasons: spring, summer and fall. Each season is roughly 15-17 weeks. At the end of each is our peak performance phase, and hopefully coincides with good weather or a planned climbing trip. I’m not sure whether or not we will continue the full training cycle through the winter season, but the spring season is in the books and we are ready for summer and looking forward to our annual week long trip to Ten Sleep Canyon in Wyoming.
It seems like things flew by in a way, especially the much anticipated performance phase. The last 4-6 weeks of each season is when we are supposed to take our training out on the rock in an all out crush fest. Reality and rain stamped out a bit of this phase and kinda leaves me feeling cheated. I certainly do feel as strong as ever, in fact I may have just sent my hardest route. But now that the schedule I laid out says to rest and recoup for the start of another long hangboard cycle, motivation to move back indoors is lacking.
This first season has taught us a lot about what helps and hinders us. Taking time to really reflect, assess and improve the training regimen is a key component to progression. After lots of trial and error I think the second time around, we will have a much more focused and effective approach. Here are some notes on each phase and how I plan to improve them for the summer season.
Base Fitness Phase: This phase went well. Long days of traversing were really boring at first but I felt good after the second week or so. For the summer season I plan to do some ARC and easy climbing during my rest weeks and opt to go straight into hangboarding.
Strength Phase: This phase was all about the hangboard. It took a while to get into the flow with this phase but I feel like I really hit my stride and started to see gains. For next season, I plan to mix in more outside moderate climbing. I did feel like it was a long lonely month in the gym and felt rusty when we got back out on real rock.
Power Phase: Campus board and bouldering. This phase was the least successful for me. Campusing was extremely hard on my joints and forearms. While I felt that I could crank hard, I experienced inflammation and tenderness that would persist for up to a week after even moderate campusing. Next season I will focus more on lock-off workouts, limit bouldering and very condensed campus workouts, making sure to stop immediately at any sign of pain, and ensuring ample rest.
Power Endurance Phase: Bouldering.. bouldering.. BOULDERING! It was during this phase that I felt the strongest. If I allowed myself a 3-4 day rest, I felt explosive and powerful in the gym. The pitfall for me though was that when we went outside, I picked the wrong routes to use this strength on. I had zero endurance and really would have benefitted from selecting short bouldery routes. Toward the end of this phase I finally started to get a bit of endurance back as I incorporated more route intervals into the training. For the summer season it will be super important to focus on gaining endurance before we head to Tensleep.
Performance Phase: This had it’s ups and downs. The projects I picked weren’t all appropriate for my varying levels of endurance. I got sucked into a power endurance test piece My Generation 5.12d at Shelf Road early on, and never quite had the stamina for it. Luckily I was able to put this aside to try other things (eventually) but spent quite a bit of energy on this. I did however have a nice few weeks of sends from Clear Creek Canyon after refocusing on more bouldery routes. I had a great day at the Wall of the 90s as I put down Ten Digit Dialing (5.12c) and Y2K (5.12c). The following day I snagged a tough arête route called Inner Gorilla (5.12d). The last week or so has been my highest performing week so far. Tuesday I was able to onsight a number of climbs at Wall of Justice and Left Wire including Speed Trap (5.12a), Justify (5.12b), Judgement Day (5.11d) and Slammer (5.12b). These are all short and steep roof routes that culminate with mantel moves to the chains.
Yesterday I set my sights on Life After Death 5.13b/c at Right Wire. This route is a nice mellow 5.11 up to a 3 bolt boulder crux. After the crux it’s time to hang on through the roof to a 11+/12- mantel to the chains. This route was one I looked at last summer briefly and despite not having the strength to pull the moves it got me really excited. This year I set it up, pulled through the crux and worked it again on my second go trying a few variations of beta. Eventually I found a sequence that worked and grunted my way through the crux off of long lockoff’s between poor finger locks and a crux eye-socket mono/crimp. Pulling the rope, I knew it had a chance to go, despite the less than favorable humidity and damp hand jams under the final roof. To my amazement, it all came together and I found myself under the final roof. As I slotted a handjam my arm cramped! NO! As I pulled it back in pain my whole left bicep cramped as well and I was T-Rex’ing trying to straighten my crippled wing. I pried my arm open against the rock and reached over the roof. With no time to delay I let my feet cut and swung my foot up for the final mantel and made my way to the chains. If the grade holds, this is my hardest send to date. Currently at least 4 well known local climbers including the guidebook author and Clear Creek pioneer have given this route 5.13+ and claimed it to be harder than a well known benchmark 5.13c of the canyon. I think everything really came together for me on this line and I gave it a 5.13- which now brings the consensus down to 5.13b/c. Regardless of the grade, I am stoked to have climbed it, and it marks my first Colorado 5.13!
Now we look forward to the summer season and focus squarely on Ten Sleep. I will need to up my footwork and power endurance for Ten Sleep, so that will be a focus of mine. I also need to find myself a tank top so I can fit in with team tank when the time comes. Lots to look forward to this summer. In the end I am really pleased with the training program and excited to see how it evolves.