You may have noticed that the posting frequency on this blog has gone down recently. Sure, it's partly because I had some other work that needed to get done (I've had some major changes in my life to adjust to recently). But partly because I needed the time to think, and not write about my ideas for a wee while. I've made a bit of progress in this area, and you'll here more on this blog when I'm finished the procress.
This idea of cycles is pretty important in many areas of life - work, relationhips, art and, yes, training for sport. One of the main ways it shows it's face in climbing is that we are trying to perfrom at our best all the time - year round. Of course it doesn't work, but when it doesn't we get mad and try to pull harder and get even more riled. The reult is generally apathy, overtraining related injury, or both.
The filp side is that if we have a brief respite following one of these periods of reduced performance and frustration induced hard effort/training, there is often a major jump in performance. In sports sicence this process is called tapering.
Tapering is part of a theory of sport science called periodisation. The idea is that we focus on different training tasks is sequence to prevent fatique accumulating to injury and plateau inducing levels. Once have worked ourselves hard in each area, we reduce the training volume in all areas to give the body a chance to refresh itself completely. The result - a performance leap. Most people who apply the concept (and that includes most books on training for climbing) limit its use to the first part (varying the work during training) and ignore the second (using tapering to switch between training and performance modes, or even recognising the distinction at all!).
- Trying to perform all the time, and neglecting to give yourself time to prepare for the performance is a route to failure.
- Allow for the fact your body and mind work in cycles - don't worry when you feel stuck in a rut of training or atempting to understand a concept. Performance is inevitably depressed during training. Keep grappling with it to stimulate the body/mind to adapt. When the signs of overtraining appear, taper and reap the rewards of your efforts.
'OK Dave, I get that... next question: how do I distinguish between the healthy fatique and frustration of a good training period, and the downward spiral of overtraining and apathy, and hence decide the right moment to stop training and start performing, or switch training focus?'
Answer - It's not easy! years of experience or a coach can help. Sometimes, even asking a friend can help -anything to get a more objective reflection. There are many clues you can use yourself though - I'll be writing more about these soon.