10 October 2009

One peak or two?

Rested up and firing on all cylinders, again. But still no success on this project and fitness levels are wavering - what to do?! Photo: Cubby Images

For those who are climbing quite regularly and are at a level where they can feel their fitness slip if they do less days on in the week, here is a thought.

When your local outdoor climbing is not in condition and you are going through a spell of just climbing indoors primarily as training, you’ll tend to work yourself a bit harder right? You train hard, you get better. In the short term, you are often tired, skin and muscles are sore, and performance is a little depressed. This is exactly where you want to be to make physical gains. Many weeks of this, just stopping short of developing injury or wearing yourself out.

The opposite extreme is when your outdoor projects are in condition - you want to be out there, rested, sharp and strong and trying to get them nailed! So you take more days off, basically to peak for the project. In the short term (a week or even two) you feel bionic - the sudden abundance of rest gives the body a chance to fully catch up and you have that crucial last few % of strength to get a bit further and hopefully bag the project.

What if it doesn’t work out? You rested, got the extra few % and you still didn’t quite do it. What often happens is you extend the cycle of resting a lot more than usual to be fresh for the project. You still make progress on it and so often fel that fitness is still improving. It probably isn’t.

What usually happens is that the extended focus on one or two climbs makes you learn the movements ever more efficiently and sharpen up the tactics, but then attribute it to increased fitness. But fitness will be going down.

So it’s a trade off. You have to judge how close you really are. If you are super close to success, another week of rest an focus will see you at the top. If not, maybe it’s better to go back to the training, even for a week or two until you are a bit more ready. But perhaps the end of a trip or a season will influence the decision.

How important is the project overall? Is it worth losing some gains from your training to gamble on success in the next week or two? Sometimes you’ll be so glad you did. Other times you’ll just end up setting yourself back a few weeks. All this logistics is part of the fun though, don’t you think?

1 comment:

Tomas Johansson said...

Is this advice also valid for more pure strength development like bouldering or is it more for endurance? You write "performance is a little depressed" as a state you want to be in for long periods of the year but I have read other places that you should end sessions while you are still strong and fresh and instead do more sessions and that you work strength best when you are fresh.