23 February 2012

Distracted from the task at hand

After my last post, Toby commented:
“I'm 25, been climbing for about two years, and am about to embark on a long road trip. I've quit my job and... ...I've had a whole spate of minor injuries crop up in the last eight weeks...It definitely helps to see you acknowledge the realities of being injured and managing those injuries. I look at some of my friends who train six days a week for months on end with no ill effects, and I curse my body for not being able to stand up to that sort of load... but the reality is we have to work with what we're given. Much as I would like to keep pushing it, I guess I have to view all these little injuries as signs from my body to take some time off, and be thankful they're not more serious.”
I wouldn’t take the message that this is a necessarily a sign that you cannot train as hard as others you observe, just that you cannot do it yet. Big difference. Injuries are much less often caused by a high training load per say, rather it’s sudden increases in the training load or where it is distributed across the body that is more important. 
It’s true that some respond differently than others to training stress, but I’d say this is a distraction from the real problem that people run into, which is failure to adjust training load carefully enough and failure to adjust the quality of the recovery to match the change in training load.
If you are used to sitting at a desk all day and training a handful of hours a week, getting stressed, not sleeping enough and drinking a couple of beers every night to forget about it, and then switch to full on climbing many more days on with intense work for elbows and fingers, no wonder the body gets a fright and isn’t able to catch up.
2 years of climbing is nothing. The body takes many years, like ten, for some just to get used to hard training. That is, just to get into full gear and then really start. There are no shortcuts. My advice to anyone in this situation is to use extra time they have to get out and climb in as many different laces as they can. The adjustment needed in the elbows and fingers to train harder will happen along the way, and meanwhile you will actually learn to be a good climber, a process that takes tens of thousands of routes under your belt. 
I’m sure Toby will have a good trip and come back a better climber.

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