It’s all well and good writing out a 6 month plan with loads of runs, pull ups and wall sessions, but you won’t get fit if you give up after three weeks…
A couple of days ago a friend of mine asked me about my climbing for next year, and I told her my training was due to start on the 22nd of January (right now I am having a break from climbing). She was surprised that I had planned my climbing that far ahead and that specifically, and, after a few minutes thought, she asked me if I could design a similar specifically tailored training programme for her climbing. I said yes I could, and I will.
But first I think I will need to make a few suggestions as to how she will need to build up self-discipline for climbing training, given that right now her life is pretty hectic, and she doesn’t train for climbing at all.
Training for anything requires a huge amount of self-discipline. Training eats in to your schedule, training makes you tired, training can sometimes be boring and training can sometimes be pretty solitary. Self-discipline is what you need to surmount those obstacles, but perhaps before you start training for climbing, you need to train your self-discipline?
When one decides to start training, it is sometimes done with a rush of enthusiasm or psyche. This psyche is not self-discipline, and a distinction must be made between the two things. Your psyches tells you that you can train 6 days per week. Your psyche tells you that getting up at 6am and going for a run in the cold and dark mornings of January is totally within your capability. Basically, your psyche is full of shit. Even if that psyche can last for a couple of weeks, it most probably can’t last for long enough for you to finish a real training programme for climbing.
In order to determine what constitutes a reasonable level of training that you will be able to commit to (right now), it is essential that you look at your lifestyle now, and see how much climbing you already do. If you currently climb for one afternoon every two weeks, is it realistic that you will switch that to climbing/training 5 days per week for 5 hours per day? No. (Unless of course you are swapping another serious sport for climbing – say you were a competitive runner or similar).
Take a look at your current daily schedule. What do you do? How do you spend your time? Where are you going to find this time for climbing training?
Time is very much like money. It disappears very easily, but is very hard to save up. Saying you will find an extra 2 hours per day, but not thinking where you will get these two hours from is like saying you will find an extra £200 per day, but not earning any more money.
Your psyche may tell you that you can not spend so much time with your husband/wife, or that you can manage on just 6 hours sleep when you are more used to 8 hours, that you will skip that session in the pub with your mates, but realism tells me that you will fail in your training plan.
Before writing your training schedule, write out your current schedule, and then decide how much you can tweak it to accommodate your new climbing training. Base your new realistic training plan on how much time you can afford.
Getting up 30mins earlier than you are used to twice per week to do a finger board session is way more realistic than getting up 1 hour earlier 5 times per week. Depending on your current level of self discipline this may be a reasonable suggestion. (Are you lazy? Do you get stuff done? Asses your level of self discipline and tailor your initial climbing plan to suit. Go easy on yourself at first if you are not used to being self disciplined.)
Taking an extra hour at lunchtime on a Wednesday to go to your local wall, then working that extra hour that evening, may well be a more realistic long-term plan than skipping your Friday night dinner date with your gorgeous girlfriend… You get the idea.
There are lots of time saving tricks and longevity helping tricks that you can do to help you kick start your training plan. This is where your initial psyche can actually help you. You will probably need to buy a finger board, and put it up. If your training plan involves a change in diet, then you may need to un-stock (yum yum) your kitchen of unhealthy foods, and stock up on recovery drinks / dried fruit / whatever you have written in to your plan. If you are going to be using a climbing wall regularly, this might also be the time to buy that season pass. If you are aiming to lose weight, then this is the time to do your calorie planning etc.
This post isn’t suggesting any of those things specifically, it is just suggesting that whatever is in your plan, you should use your new-found and most likely temporary psyche to make your training as easy as possible for the next six weeks/months/whatever. Buy that thera-band, chuck out those bars of dairy milk, put up that fingerboard… get ready.
Self discipline is like any sport. You build up and get better. You may find that you have made some choices, chopped out some crap food, done your finger board exercises and increased your climbing grade, and after 6 weeks / 12 weeks /whatever, you feel good and have got in to a routine. It all seems normal and you feel you could even up your training slightly. In effect you have trained your self discipline. After 6 weeks of getting up at 7:00 instead of 7:30, you may find you can get your ass out of the sack at 6:45, giving you an extra 15 minutes of punishment on your fingerboard.
But don’t push too hard too fast. Make a plan. Stick to it. Reap the rewards.
Training is about pushing yourself to increase ability. If the weight is too heavy to push, then it’s not going to work. Don’t make your initial training plan a 250kg bench press. Even Jimmy Big Guns can’t press that much!