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Training and goal-setting for the middle-aged
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technogeekery


Sep 1, 2010, 11:55 PM
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Training and goal-setting for the middle-aged
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Hi all

Iím 43, got back into climbing last year after a very long break (18 years). When I learned to climb it was all trad, adventure climbing, multi-pitch as often as not. Didnít climb hard by todayís standards, probably equivalent of 5.10s, but was pretty solid at that grade and it was quite adventurous climbing in Africa. There were no gyms, no comps, no SLCDs, no bolts Ė just nuts, hexes, slings and the occasional old piton. We climbed with 2x 9mm ropes and tried hard not to fall. I never trained, just climbed a lot.

I now live in Japan, have a 10hr/day job, wife & 2 small kids and a re-kindled obsession about climbing. For the last 18 months Iíve been climbing outdoors whenever I can, and gym-climbing during the week to build up strength/technique/confidence. Iím still super keen on longer trad climbs, but they are few and far between here in Japan, or require huge effort to get to - so Iím focusing on the sport climbs that abound near Tokyo. Took a while, but Iím leading back in the 10a/b range again, and my goal for the next 6-9 months are to bump my confident lead ability a couple of grades to 5.10d.

Might sound like a pretty modest ambition, but my climbing ambitions HAVE got more modest. Iím not so interested in redpointing or pinkpointing or whatever, I just want to be able to get up climbs a little bit harder than I can now (preferably clean) as it will open up a lot of climbing that I canít do right now. Eg Tonsai in Thailand (close, cheap) really starts at 5.10a and if I could climb 10c/d it would open up many many wonderful looking climbs to me. But on maximum 2 training sessions a week and average a day a month on real rock, Iím struggling to improve my current ability Ė especially as my gym partners are not so interested in a structured training program (a la SCC) as ďjust climbingĒ.

Iíve read SCC and the overall advice is fantastic, and Iím trying to incorporate what I can in terms of self assessment, setting goals, devising a pyramid for indoor/outdoor etc. Iím working ARC on the bouldering wall for best part of an hour each session, then climbing 8-10 ďroutesĒ with my partners (say 4x 5.8 concentrating on drills, 2x 5.9s doing same, 2x 10aís and 2x 10bís, normally with falls/rests), and once a week taking a crack at a 10c or 10d. Pretty much seem to plateau at this level though, and if I miss a few sessions through work travel etc (frequent) it steps me back a notch or two. Two x 2-hr sessions a week really just seems to maintain rather than really improve my skills/strength.

Any thoughts from the experts (or non-experts who have done the same) as to a sensible program for the easy-moderate climber with very limited time? Iím not expecting any magic bullet, I think probably only more time on the rock/gym wall will help Ė but there are probably lots of you out there in a similar boat, so thought Iíd ask.

Cheers

TG


ceebo


Sep 3, 2010, 11:03 AM
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I think you can easily meet your goal in that time doing 2 sessions a week. It would just be a case of leading as much as you can to build up the endurence.

Just out of interest, how high are the walls at your gym vs the outdoor walls you intend to climb?


Sorry, just to add. Im also really trying to push up my leadng grades atm. Currently im working on a 30M f6b, its really big endurence battle but every time i try it im getting a few clips higher. Once ive done this route i will move onto the next wall that is f6c, and i will continue working that untill i can do it.
Its very rewarding to stick on the same route and keep pushing higher and higher on the clips. It gives you a good thing to aim for and even though you may not complete the route its atleast satisfying to know you got 1-2-3 clips higher than last session.

Obviusly after my best efforts on the target climb when im getting tired i will either do a easier route of same height, or i will goto smaller walls.


(This post was edited by ceebo on Sep 3, 2010, 11:11 AM)


lena_chita
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Sep 3, 2010, 11:23 AM
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Re: [technogeekery] Training and goal-setting for the middle-aged [In reply to]
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I think your goal is entirely reasonable on the 2x/week schedule.

I understand the frustration of not being able to stick to a regular schedule and not having partners who are on the same page, as far as the training goes. But life is what it is...

When you say that you are back to "leading in the 5.10a/b range", what does it mean, exactly? You've been able to send a couple of climbs in that range, after working them, or you are commonly flashing climbs in that grade range?

And what, in your self-assessment, stops you from sending harder climbs? B/c how you train would depend on what your weakness is, and it is not clear from your post.

How many climbs in the harder grade range (your target range) have you tried? How many times have you tried those climbs?

From your description it sounds like you just aren't getting on 5.10c/d often enough ("taking a crack at 5.10c or .10d once a week" -- that won't be enough!) It sounds like you are spending a large volume of your time climbing on sub 5.10b routes. It will increase your endurance and greatly help with doing multi-pitch 5.9-5.10a, but it will not make you lcimb 5.10d.

I know you said that you are not interested in redpointing, but a lot of thimes that is the way to get stronger and eventually bring up your onsight grade, too.


jt512


Sep 3, 2010, 8:50 PM
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Re: [technogeekery] Training and goal-setting for the middle-aged [In reply to]
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technogeekery wrote:
Iíve read SCC and the overall advice is fantastic, and Iím trying to incorporate what I can in terms of self assessment, setting goals, devising a pyramid for indoor/outdoor etc. Iím working ARC on the bouldering wall for best part of an hour each session, then climbing 8-10 ďroutesĒ with my partners (say 4x 5.8 concentrating on drills, 2x 5.9s doing same, 2x 10aís and 2x 10bís, normally with falls/rests), and once a week taking a crack at a 10c or 10d.

I'm almost a decade older than you, and I also transitioned to sport climbing after a multi-year hiatus from climbing, before which I only "trad" climbed. Here's my advice. Most of it is from personal experience, but it's helped to have gotten pointers by climbing with Douglas Hunter.

1. Reduce your average time spent ARCing per session by 75%. ARCing for nearly an hour, session after session, is unnecessary. You're overstressing the lowest level of aerobic endurance, and doing nothing systematically for anaerobic endurance or power.

2. How is your movement, especially your turning and flagging? Can you perform all the turning/flagging/backstepping exercises in the book/DVD at the 5.8/5.9 levelóif not on every move, then at least on 90% of moves? If not, then you need more work. You MUST be able to proficiently climb with one side of your body turned into the wall.

3. Break old trad habits. In trad climbing, you climb heels down, butt out, muscles relaxed, and statically. Sport climbing is the opposite. You need to learn to climb toes down, back arched, with body tension, and dynamically. There are drills in the book for these things. Work hard at them. Some of them (like body tension) probably won't make any sense to you for a long time. Keep working at them until they do.

4. Spend more of your time in the gym bouldering. You should probably get your bouldering CIR level up to at least V1. V2, if your gym's ratings are soft. Bouldering is a very efficient way to spend your climbing time. First of all, you do not need a partner. Secondly, you're doing nearly 100% hard moves. Bouldering is like spending all your time just climbing the cruxes of sport climbs. You thus quickly improve both your strength and movement skill.

5. Lose weight, if you have to, andóif this applies to youóditch the 30-year-old, ill-fitting Firťs or Sportivas, and get a modern, synthetic, snug-fitting (your toes should be slightly curled) sport climbing shoe. This is vitally important. You can't learn good footwork while wearing galoshes.

6. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, don't set self-limiting goals! Be open to the possibility that you very well might be able to climb 5.13. There are lots of climbers in their 40s and 50s who do. Increasing your climbing by a couple of letter grades is a fine short-term goal. With a consistent effort, you should be able to accomplish it in around six months. Then what!? Keep going, that's what! 5.11 is like 5.10 with more deadpoints, and 5.12a-b is like 5.11 with more a little more strength and movement skill. These are very attainable goals. Don't for a moment think you can't attain them, and more.

Jay


(This post was edited by jt512 on Sep 3, 2010, 9:00 PM)


dugl33


Sep 3, 2010, 9:22 PM
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Re: [technogeekery] Training and goal-setting for the middle-aged [In reply to]
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With such great advice already not much to add except to be in tune with your injury threshold. You have muscle memory and technique left from "back in the day" but most likely the tendons of a beginner unless you've been a bricklayer for the last 18 years. Injuries suck and will grind progress to a halt. (43 isn't that old, by the way, I've got friends going strong that are well into their 50s.)

Take the time to warm up a bit on exceptionally easy terrain, start doing some reverse wrist curls if you're not already, and maybe push-ups or something for your shoulders.

You mention not climbing for years but you don't give any insight to your overall fitness.

Finally, already implied, but learn to climb steep (overhanging) terrain. This is usually easiest to learn on overhanging boulder problems. There are skills to be learned at this angle that you just don't usually learn in "must not fall" trad climbing.

So, in summary, push the intensity (not necessarily duration) a bit while staying below the injury threshold. Allow more recovery time than you needed in your 20s but keep at it.


technogeekery


Sep 3, 2010, 10:37 PM
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dugl33, jt512, lena, thanks for the very positive and detailed advice - it makes a lot of sense to me.

jt512:

1) okay, makes sense
2) not great, could definitely do with more work. I'll try to make this more of a focus
3) As above. I definitely tend to be too static, too square on, and suffer when I have to do overrhanging stretches with lots of body tension.
4) Yeah (sigh). Don't like bouldering much. Perhaps partly because I find it very artificial and constrained, and normally very hard. The bouldering area is also very crowded in Japan, and not much easy stuff. I'm also concerned about my finger joints, they are always a little swollen and sore for a day or two after climbing, and I find bouldering very hard on them - I'm super keen to avoid injury. But I do recognise the training value of bouldering, and should stop making excuses and put in some more boulding time.
5) Understood re weight, but doesnt apply - I'm 193 cm and 85kg, I could definitley do with some toning but not much in the way of fat to olose. LOL - I did actually throw away my Fires last year and feel quite self-conscious in a pair of yellow La Sportivas that are designed for the 5.12 climber...
6 - thats encouraging, and I'll keep it in mind. Thanks for taking the time with that post.


technogeekery


Sep 3, 2010, 10:47 PM
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Lena - thaks for your comments.

Leading 5.10a/b - at our local sport crags I can lead most 10a with no fall, and 10b with a fall or two. Pretty short climbs though at 12-20m.

What stops me climbing harder? I've got more weaknesses than strengths! I'm working on strength, power and endurance, with most of my focus being on endurance rather than outright power, in line with my goals (multipitch, longer climbs). My technique is quite poor, but again am working on various aspects, and JT512's advice above is very relevant, also dugl33's comments about overhanging technique. Fear is another factor - I'm still not comfortable falling, even in the gym - it goes against everything I learned - and I need to work on that more. My technique goes to hell when I am under real pressure (very steep, no rests, good prospect of falling) and I have to stress-proof the new techniques I'm learning, also just get over fear of falling on bolted routes.

Not climbing enough hard routes - seems to be a consensus there, you are probably right, will have to up the pressure on myself a little.

Thanks for that.

TG


ceebo


Sep 5, 2010, 11:46 AM
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Imo if he wants to lead 20-30M 10.ds then he needs to just lead, with next to no bouldering other than warm ups or last resort. Even still, top roping 20M walls with 10 second hand hover over holds would probably serve him better for his intended goal than spending a session bouldering.

Infact the 10 second hand hover thing is probably the best technique/endurence training ive ever came across, you simply have to be rightly placed or you barn door and fall off. Pluss it trains you for cliping.


bustloose


Sep 9, 2010, 12:07 PM
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ceebo wrote:
Imo if he wants to lead 20-30M 10.ds then he needs to just lead, with next to no bouldering other than warm ups or last resort. Even still, top roping 20M walls with 10 second hand hover over holds would probably serve him better for his intended goal than spending a session bouldering.

Infact the 10 second hand hover thing is probably the best technique/endurence training ive ever came across, you simply have to be rightly placed or you barn door and fall off. Pluss it trains you for cliping.

why do people with no idea about how to train insist on posting n the technique & training forum?

OP - please, ignore this nonsense. others have provided solid advice.


technogeekery


Sep 9, 2010, 5:28 PM
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There IS some great advice here, and I've been around RC.com long enough to have active & effective filters in place... I appreciate the fact that all the posters want to help, so thanks.


ceebo


Sep 10, 2010, 11:54 AM
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bustloose wrote:
ceebo wrote:
Imo if he wants to lead 20-30M 10.ds then he needs to just lead, with next to no bouldering other than warm ups or last resort. Even still, top roping 20M walls with 10 second hand hover over holds would probably serve him better for his intended goal than spending a session bouldering.

Infact the 10 second hand hover thing is probably the best technique/endurence training ive ever came across, you simply have to be rightly placed or you barn door and fall off. Pluss it trains you for cliping.

why do people with no idea about how to train insist on posting n the technique & training forum?

OP - please, ignore this nonsense. others have provided solid advice.

I didnt say i had any idea

I know from my own experiance that i can boulder v5 but i cant lead a 30M- f6b due to endurence. Just seemd logical to me that if i want to do big leads like that then i wont achive it by spending any amount of time bouldering.


(This post was edited by ceebo on Sep 10, 2010, 11:56 AM)


bandycoot


Sep 10, 2010, 2:35 PM
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ceebo wrote:
bustloose wrote:
ceebo wrote:
Imo if he wants to lead 20-30M 10.ds then he needs to just lead, with next to no bouldering other than warm ups or last resort. Even still, top roping 20M walls with 10 second hand hover over holds would probably serve him better for his intended goal than spending a session bouldering.

Infact the 10 second hand hover thing is probably the best technique/endurence training ive ever came across, you simply have to be rightly placed or you barn door and fall off. Pluss it trains you for cliping.

why do people with no idea about how to train insist on posting n the technique & training forum?

OP - please, ignore this nonsense. others have provided solid advice.

I didnt say i had any idea

I know from my own experiance that i can boulder v5 but i cant lead a 30M- f6b due to endurence. Just seemd logical to me that if i want to do big leads like that then i wont achive it by spending any amount of time bouldering.

Ceebo, I wouldn't worry about it. I think that's Bustloose's way of making himself feel more important. He's done the same to me as well.

Josh


jt512


Sep 10, 2010, 2:46 PM
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ceebo wrote:
bustloose wrote:

why do people with no idea about how to train insist on posting n the technique & training forum?

I didnt say i had any idea.

Then why did you say anything at all?

This is why you are killfiled.

Jay


(This post was edited by jt512 on Sep 10, 2010, 2:47 PM)


KeitaroHoshi


Sep 10, 2010, 3:08 PM
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jt512 wrote:

3. Break old trad habits. In trad climbing, you climb heels down, butt out, muscles relaxed, and statically. Sport climbing is the opposite. You need to learn to climb toes down, back arched, with body tension, and dynamically.
Jay

WTF?


(This post was edited by KeitaroHoshi on Sep 10, 2010, 3:11 PM)


healyje


Sep 10, 2010, 3:36 PM
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KeitaroHoshi wrote:
jt512 wrote:

3. Break old trad habits. In trad climbing, you climb heels down, butt out, muscles relaxed, and statically. Sport climbing is the opposite. You need to learn to climb toes down, back arched, with body tension, and dynamically.
Jay

WTF?

Beat me to it - can't imagine climbing trad that way. Man, how would you develop any rhythm at all that way?


ceebo


Sep 11, 2010, 6:44 AM
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jt512 wrote:
ceebo wrote:
bustloose wrote:

why do people with no idea about how to train insist on posting n the technique & training forum?

I didnt say i had any idea.

Then why did you say anything at all?

This is why you are killfiled.

Jay

Because if i dont say anything, and have my opinion argued with (although in these forums you just get insulted) then how exactly do i learn whats right and wrong?. Did i come in saying I KNOW IT ALL!!!! no?.. i said ''IMO'' which i knew full well could be wrong.

If you say to that bouldering is going to help lead better than actually doing leading then say why, so i can understand?. Surely if im bouldering v5 and cant lead long f6b it means that the op is not going to get anywhere close to his intended goals by spending time bouldering v1+?.

He will not get good enough endurence from bouldering unless people lie about that fact, he wont be practicing cliping and he wont be confidence building for going past a clip to a more stable cliping spot, He also said he is scared of falling, so chances are he will also be overgriping.. so thats also 1 more reason why he should be leading to get confidence and relax more.

I mean if i had 2 sessions a week and wanted to do what the op's goals are, id be far more concernd about the points above than anything else.


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