20 August 2007

Potential vs Track Record


What happens if you focus all your energy on getting strong and putting hours in at the climbing wall?

People say “Wow, that guy/girl has so much potential. They are so strong, they could do something really hard”

What happens if you balance your energy between training and fine tuning your performance tactics and risk losing training time by staying out there and finishing projects or trying new things?

People say “Wow that guy/girl has done so many hard routes, but they aren’t as strong as I expected them to be.”

If you are the guy with the awesome track record, it’s a psychologically difficult place to be. Everyone is constantly surprised by how much you’ve achieved on the strength you have. Why? Because the climbing world is full of wall rats who are super strong but too scared to put their neck on the line and risk failure by getting out there and actually trying a hard route. They will compare you to this norm and will never understand how you did it. So many strong climbers have achieved so little, because they are too scared, and like the easy position of being the guy with the potential.

Who do you want to be? The guy with potential, or the guy who does a lot of hard routes?

29 comments:

ab said...

I'm currently in the first category 'wall rat', though I do have my sights set on a specific outdoor problem (bouldering).

Spent months working hard (recovering from injury and now trying to get strong), and now have a little apprehension of going out and actually trying the problem... what if all that hard work hasn't worked!?

Time to bite the bullet and get out. If i don't do the problem it will identify specific weaknesses that I’ll need to focus on. On the other hand, if nail it…

Dave MacLeod said...

Indeed. What is more scary? getting on the problem and finding out you need to tweak your training now, or wasting any more time in the dark not knowing.

Just amongst it again will feel good, even if you are not as fit as you hoped.

The bigger question is, are you sure you need to be any stronger to climb the problem? Is it really the sole limiting factor for you? If so you must have exceptional tactics and cunning technique.

Anonymous said...

heheh...
I fit into the second category. The bunch I climb with can crank off stuff I can't even hang and crank out 1 armers, but we're all at 7c.

Sometimes I do feel like a punter compared to them though.

AB said...

Neither scenario is scary as such, I just need to get out there and give it a go - and what ever the result, learn from it, turn it into a positive.

Well, the problem in mind isn't a delicate slab, its Gorilla Warfare on Curbar - a bit brutish! Though I'm under no illusion that a bit of cunning technique is essential.

as an aside, this would be (in grading terms) right at my current limit. However, I think Dave's principal isn't restricted to the climbing elite, or to Punters like me. It goes right across the board.

I think you've inspired me to go out this weekend and give it a bash... crikey!

Ron said...

Good post and good timing. It's what I need to hear, as I am heading out this weekend for slew of hard (for me) crack lines, including London Wall. I'm tired of not living up to my potential and failing only for the lack of not trying.

I know that in all likely hood I will not be strong enough for the bottom section, but I won't know until I get on the damned thing. Plus, how sweet would it be to get on and have a surprise send?

Keep it up.

Adski said...

Great point. I'm amazed that some of the guys i've seen throwing themselves at 28's the last few months haven't succeeded at anything harder than 26! Meanwhile I'm doing 25's and 26's in a few sessions, and have only tried two 27's..

Hrm, maybe some of those hard routes deserve a try eh? Thanks for the push :-)

TheUsualSuspect said...

Well done for the thought-provoking post.
I'm currently in the middle of a training binge but it's coming off the back of pushing up my grade on the real stuff (i.e. outdoor rock) and breaking into the magic grade (for an Irish bloke) or grade-8 sports climbing.
I actually posted (link at bottom) about my final (and ultimately unsuccessful) go at a style of route that is completely not me - super steep. It was a great experience and I've been using it to modify my training for the 6 weeks I've time for it before going back on rock.
Keep up the great posts...

http://nmcquaid.blogspot.com/2007/06/and-now-for-todays-weather-report.html

Anonymous said...

The guy who has the most fun :)


Ta,
Fiend

Dave MacLeod said...

The guy having the most fun = the guy doing a lot of hard routes, harder each year.

Dave MacLeod said...

The guy having the most fun = the guy doing a lot of hard routes, harder each year.

Anonymous said...

I realised this a couple of years back and have being trying climb well (for me) outside since then. I'm getting there but it's a sloooooww process.

Good fun though when it starts to click. I think it's only now I'm starting to approach my actual strength ability on rock.

I'm still crap at reading rock though. Must climb more :-)
iain

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ken said...

This question isn't exactly on topic, but since this is your most recent blog entry, I'll post it here. I'd like to know your comments on adjusting to the improvements and effects of training. I've been following a training program for about 4 years now, and I've noticed a repeating pattern: When I find that I've gotten myself into a new power zone following a training cycle, it seems like I have to relearn my body. Even though I'm foremost a technical climber, the added sense of power seems to take over and I often will actually climb poorer for a while, abandoning my technique and trying to brute force things. I won't even realize it at first until I've had a couple of bad sessions climbing and go about trying to figure out what's wrong. It's like having the engine tuned in your car and gunning it all the time until you remember you've still got to drive with finesse.

In E11 you talk about training during the off season the year before sending. You've also mentioned dropping weight to improve strength-to-weight ratio, with comparison photos in (if I remember) your Dave MacLeod blog. I wonder if, through your career, you've encountered a similar experience as your training has made you stronger, and if there's any specific approach you've applied to adapt. Thanks!

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