If I could go to the climbing gym right now, I would boulder.
Why does that matter? Why do I choose bouldering instead of top-roping, leading, campus boarding, endurance climbs….any of those?
Because that’s what I feel like doing right now.
Listening to Myself
I’m extremely motivated to send some hard [to me] boulder problems. The skin on my hands have healed. After 3 days of eating right and a rest day yesterday after climbing outdoors on Sunday, my muscles feel great, just waiting to explode on a dyno or have a huge, out-stretched, shouldery reach.
Bouldering is the type of climbing that requires all of these sensations coming together at once.
Why not lead?
Because one sensation I’m not aware of right now in myself is the mental preparedness of falling. Yes, that’s right; I still get a bit antsy when leading, even in the gym where there are draws every 6 feet. My muscles are ready for some intense training, but my brain is not ready for a 12+’ leader fall.
Why not top-rope?
Maybe. I could climb near my limits on top-rope. But I find that top-roping still doesn’t afford me the same physical exertion as lead or bouldering. It also leads itelf more towards sustained, endurance climbing. I’m looking for short, intense, muscley moves.
How this Fits into my Overall Training
As we all know, a well-rounded climber should incorporate all the different types of climbing into their program, as well as a few days in a gym. A well-rounded climber should also incorporate all the different modalities into their program as well: endurance, speed, intensity, intervals, etc.
Where the bickering and endless arguing comes into play is the “when” and the “where” and the “how”. There are an infinite amount of pre-written programs out there. Everyone is trying to figure out the Holy Grail of programming.
Not me; I’ve already found it. It’s called listening to your body.
Listen to Yourself
If you consider what I said above about feeling certain sensations and then pairing them with the type and mode of climbing, you can never be wrong. You can never have a bad workout.
There are interesting things that go on in the brain – electrically, chemically, and metaphysically – when we succeed at doing the things we feel like doing.
Those successes allow us to build more success. As we build more and more success, we become better and better climbers.
What about the stuff we suck at and NEVER feel like doing?
Well, the old saying of “if you want to be a better climber, do the things you hate” is still true. We can’t completely ignore the things we’re not good at. In my case, I can’t avoid slopers and slab climbs my entire life.
So, when do you work on those things and how much?
Whenever you can.
Maybe a day like today, when I can’t hardly sit at my desk because I need to go cimbing, would be a good day. I’m mentally focused. I really want to improve my climbing. Maybe I could work on slopers during the first part of my session. Do a few easy, slopey problems, succeed, and move on. Let that slopey success imprint on my brain before I try a more challenging problem.
You see what I’m saying?
What if I’m wrong? What if I try a V1 warm-up and it feels more like V6? It’s not a big deal because I’m not a slave to predetermined programming.
I listen to the new sensations and change direction. Maybe my hand strength felt great, but my footwork sucked. Maybe I work on super easy routes and go for endurance instead.
If I end up having a great endurance session, I still feel success. I don’t feel the “failure” of not being able to boulder. Instead, I’ve just increased my ability to do long climbs or hang on the wall as I figure out a hard sequence without pumping out. I’ll leave the gym knowing I’ve gotten better in some way.
And that success will be built on top of previous successes, which will in turn be the building bocks of your future successes.
All by listening to your body’s innate sensations.
Don’t Miss Your Chance
I was stuck in Corporate America for 9 years. I was miserable.
Then I took control.
You can too, and it starts right here.
Back when I was a kid taking all those fun multiple choice tests, my teachers used to tell me that 9 out of 10 times, my first guess was the right answer. That mentality has continued to stick. I might not know exactly why or how my brain is flagging down an specific answer, method, or resolution – but chances are it’s the way to go. I’ve noticed that just going with my instincts during climbing seems to be the way to go too, so I think you’re on to something.
And on that note, my brain is telling me to go to the gym and finish that 5.9 TR I was working on (crimps on a cliff walk, fancy foot work, and some dynos) and tackle the 5.11 TR I now know I’m capable of. I think I better listen, huh?
Sometimes our brains are wrong. And sometimes our brains tell us things that seem to contradict what we’re feeling, or what we think we should feel (about a given situation).
So on that note, listen to the rest of what your body is telling you and flash that sucker!
Oh! And remember, as I said in the post, your first intuitive guess may be wrong. That’s fine; just make sure you adjust your training accordingly that day.