A year ago I realised I was stuck. After three years of pottering around the climbing wall and occasionally hitting the rock at the weekend, I could barely climb V5.
My goals were a couple of 7A classics in the Peak District and I was determined to figure out how to work my way through the plateau.
It dawned on me that I could get a coach and online coaching seemed like the most sensible way to go about it.
Here’s the reasoning behind it:
- Having somebody monitor and schedule my training will make me more committed (wanting to be committed and actually committing are two different things)
- I would learn more about how to train and I will enjoy it more (structure, goals setting, lists and ticking boxes are my things)
- I would learn about managing my ongoing shoulder injury* and I’d stop picking up more random tweaks
Around the same time I met Aleksandra ‘Ola’ Taistra and decided to trust her with my training. Knowing I travel a lot and my schedule is constantly changing, opting for an online training plan seemed like the best idea.
After a very thorough interview about my climbing, fitness level, general health and injuries history, I started receiving detailed charts for every day of training. Unfortunately, due to work commitments I had to stop following the strict plan after some four months, but I kept training with Ola’s guidance, consulting her on skype and reporting on my progress. A couple of times I also saw her for individual coaching sessions in Warsaw. Keeping in touch with Ola allowed me to stay motivated and reminded me I had an obligation to myself.
How it felt:
Ola decided that I lacked in general strength and sent me off to do weights (the instructions were incredibly specific to make sure I do it well and don’t hurt myself). After the first session I ate two dinners and slept for 13 hours. I was absolutely exhausted (a feeling that accompanied me many times over the last year) but in a healthy, balanced way that allows for progress.
Apart from lifting, there was conditioning, power endurance sessions and fingerboarding. There were times when I trained 6 days in a row, on the last day barely pulling V2 moves at the wall. As explained by Ola, stimulating a tired body with objectively much easier exercises can have a better effect on it than doing super hard stuff when you’re fresh. I had to learn that the wall was for training and not for achieving. Achievement was meant to happen on the rock and I’d have to patiently wait for it to come.
What I got out of it:
Firstly, I’m sure if I followed Ola’s training plans strictly, the progress would be more dramatic, but nonetheless I’m still very happy with what I did over the last year. Admittedly, I haven’t climbed ‘The Green Traverse’ or ‘Gorilla Warfare’, but not having a single session on the latter, and only one half an hour sesh on the first might also have been the culprit here.
A year ago I was complaining about hitting a V5 plateau. Since then I managed to top out on my first V8. Yes, it was really my style and even V7 is still definitely a very, very challenging grade for me, but I guess it still can be said that my abilities have skyrocketed.
Climbing happens at the crossroads between how fit your body is and how well you can move. Bizarrely, the latter is not entirely connected to the first. I’ve now arrived at a weird point where I’m not able to use all of my strength because I don’t move well enough. Working on technique is paramount but getting super strong can’t ever be a drawback, so I’m going to train even harder.
All in all, over the last year the level of psych has been steadily growing and I went from squeezing training sessions in between other commitments, to quitting other commitments to prioritise training. There was time for intense studying and there was time for career but all my life I longed to see how far I can go with sport if I gave myself a chance. I’m giving myself a chance now and I’m incredibly excited to see where I’m going to be in a year’s time!**
* The shoulder injury has been with me for over 15 years and around the time I started working with coach Taistra, I also sought medical help and started physiotherapy. I’ll blog about that soon to try and give some hope to all those stuck with a dodgy shoulder.
** I know many people don’t understand why I want to be so ‘serious’ about my climbing but this is exactly how I’m having fun.